This 17.5-acre property lies adjacent to the southeast end of the existing preserve. Protecting this mix of rich conifer swamp and other wetland habitats enhances the overall wetland complex critical for water quality.
More About the Mitchell Creek Meadows Preserve:
Because of increasing development in the immediate vicinity of Traverse City, large open spaces are getting harder and harder to come by. This is especially true of parcels within the ecologically significant Mitchell Creek watershed.
A new GTRLC project within this watershed presents an exceptional opportunity to safeguard water quality, protect vanishing wildlife habitat, provide valuable recreation opportunities and preserve open space in an area that has long faced substantial development pressure.
The Conservancy has an option to purchase the 166-acre former Mitchell Creek Golf Course east of Three Mile Road in East Bay Township. We are actively fundraising for this important property as part of the ongoing Campaign for Generations.
Since the closing of the nine-hole golf course (and later a wedding venue), the impacted portions of this parcel have already begun to revert back to a natural state. Fairways have begun the transition into wet meadow, the perfect habitat for sandhill cranes and many other species. Large swaths of rich conifer swamp, largely untouched by earlier use of the property and the remnant of much larger dune-and-swale complex that once lined the south end of the bay, add to the ecological value of this special place.
Of all the reasons to protect this property, water quality protection is first and foremost. The parcel contains more than 6,000 feet of frontage along two branches of Vanderlip Creek, which feed into Mitchell Creek just north of this property. These cold branches feature spawning brook trout and provide a considerable volume of water to Mitchell Creek. While protection of their undeveloped shorelines is paramount, that’s only part of the water quality story here.
The wetlands, forest complexes and sizeable unpaved portions of this property serve the critical role of filtering surface water runoff that enters the creek. Protecting this collection of natural features from impending development preserves an immensely important natural filter in an area where such filters are scarce and under increasing threat.
Development plans previously prepared for the property show the potential for more than 150 home sites, and another plan submitted involved construction of a race track. Both uses would have resulted in substantially negative environmental impacts.
From a recreational and community standpoint, the property offers other potential benefits. Once protected, it could be one of the best birding spots in town. It has one of the largest stretches of herbaceous wetland in proximity to Traverse City, offering scarce habitat to scores of bird species. Old golf course water traps that have begun conversion into natural habitat already are used by a variety of waterfowl. There is also excellent potential for a series of trails that highlight important critical habitat types, including the potential for Universal Access (UA) opportunities.