Nearly thirty years ago, GTRLC teamed up with the Little Traverse Conservancy to protect an ecologically sensitive shoreline property in the upper part of the Elk River Chain of Lakes watershed. What began as a 17-acre parcel eventually became the 257-acre St. Clair Lake-Six Mile Lake Nature Preserve, as contiguous landowners agreed to sell land and dedicated volunteers, donors and community leaders banded together to protect this rich, biodiverse habitat.
Home to some of the most pristine inland lakes and streams in the country and the largest sub-watershed of Grand Traverse Bay, the Elk River Chain of Lakes watershed is critical to our region’s water quality.
The conservancies now have an opportunity to work together again to acquire a beautiful, seven-acre addition to this exceptional and ecologically significant place, building on a decades-long effort to protect habitat and water quality in this vital watershed.
Already this natural area protects an impressive stretch of undeveloped shoreline near the watershed’s headwaters, with 2.3 miles of frontage along St. Clair Lake and the Sinclair River. Adjacent to the existing preserve’s western border, the proposed addition would protect another 416 feet of shoreline along St. Clair Lake and safeguard a significant area of high-quality riparian wetlands. The shoreline is predominantly a shallow-water wetland known as an emergent marsh that provides crucial habitat for aquatic invertebrates, fish, waterfowl, and mammals like muskrats.
Protecting this shoreline habitat for wildlife also protects the world-class passive recreation opportunities at the St. Clair Lake-Six Mile Lake Nature Preserve. Hundreds of nature enthusiasts
of all ages and abilities pass through the property on the Mary Behrens Sorrell Trail and the Chain of Lakes Water Trail, inspiring generations of future conservationists through its awe-inspiring beauty.
From a scenic perspective, the parcel will protect views of the natural landscape along Six Mile Lake Road and sights of undeveloped shoreline from St. Clair Lake and its opposing shores.