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We have the opportunity to protect a gorgeous and ecologically significant bay and create a nature preserve on one of Grand Traverse County’s most popular and beloved inland lakes. 

The proposed Turtle Cove Nature Preserve along Arbutus Lake is one of the highest-ranking parcels identified for protection in our priority land atlas. It encompasses the majority of a shallow-water bay, along with additional frontage on the main body of the lake. Collectively, the property has more than three-quarters of a mile of undeveloped water frontage, making it critical for water quality on Arbutus Lake. 

In addition to water quality benefits, this proposed preserve packs a major punch in terms of wildlife habitat. The shallow water of Turtle Cove provides habitat for scores of fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrate species. Along with emergent marsh and bog habitats, the property also contains mesic forest with areas of open field (dominated by bracken fern and little bluestem) and early-successional forest. There is also an active eagle’s nest on the property.

While not small in its own right at roughly 120 acres, the property also benefits from being contiguous to Pines Park (a natural area owned by East Bay Township) along with a tract of state land. Such connectivity is critical for wildlife movement throughout increasingly fragmented habitats. The property will also lend itself to a scenic and enjoyable trail system. 

Undeveloped shorelines are becoming increasingly rare throughout GTRLC’s service area, particularly near the region’s population center. This protection effort presents a relatively rare chance to safeguard unspoiled habitat.

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