More than a decade ago, GTRLC joined a monumental grassroots effort to protect one of the few large, undeveloped parcels near the base of the Old Mission Peninsula. Along the path home for many Peninsula residents and only a stone’s throw from downtown Traverse City, scores of people treasure the 62-acre Pelizzari Natural Area as a peaceful spot to unwind or stretch their legs in any season.

We now have a fantastic chance to assist Peninsula Township in acquiring a future addition to the Natural Area, located just under a quarter of a mile away. This 15-acre parcel provides a quiet and peaceful refuge amongst concentrated development, consisting entirely of northern hardwood forest with beautiful, rolling topography and mature trees.

The project would preserve excellent wildlife habitat, particularly for species that require extensive, mature, contiguous forests with open understories like the state-threatened Red-shouldered Hawk and Northern Goshawk, a species of special concern.

Additionally, the property’s protection would safeguard against other harms associated with development, including impacts on water quality and the Old Mission Peninsula’s scenic viewshed. It could also secure a valuable asset for the community and potentially catalyze future land preservation.

There has been clear interest in expanding the park to enhance recreational opportunities and preserve precious green space in a highly developable area. The Conservancy has been speaking with neighboring landowners and sees this long-range vision as a definite possibility. Should adjacent properties be protected in the future, they could connect this property to Pelizzari Natural Area. Together, the acquisitions could double the acreage of protected land at one of the Peninsula’s most beloved open spaces and expand upon the well-loved, three-mile network of trails.

GTRLC plans to protect the land with a conservation easement so that even if the property cannot connect to the natural area in the future, development is prohibited and its scenic character and natural features are permanently preserved. The landowner generously made the first gift to the project by agreeing to sell the property for less than its market value. The fund reserve for the Natural Area from the 2008 millage, which can only be spent at Pelizzari Natural Area, will provide another $200,000 towards the project. The Conservancy will fundraise the balance of the remaining cost and has until June 30, 2024, to do so.

Learn more about the Pelizzari Natural Area.

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