As of the fall of 2017, the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy is working on several exciting land protection and stewardship projects throughout our five-county service area. Our Priority Land Atlas (PLA) guides us as we protect land throughout the region.

The PLA includes carefully selected scoring criteria that we use to identify properties with the highest conservation values in our service area. By taking a close look at natural features, habitat rarity, size of wetlands, length of shoreline, adjacency to previously protected land and more, we’ve got a clear and concise map of the best remaining unprotected jewels in our area.

For more information on any of these projects, please contact Anthony Rupard at (231) 929-7911 or

Upper Manistee Headwaters Preserve (Camp Tapico)
Torch Ridge
Sand Lakes DNR Assist
Acme Bayside Park
Arcadia Marsh Addition
Platte River Park
Copeland Farm
Arcadia Marsh UA Trail
Farmland Protection

Upper Manistee Headwaters Preserve (Camp Tapico)

Upper manistee_Lake_Clouds_Kathy Partin_lowres

Read about his exciting project on page six of our 2017 Summer Landscript. Also, view our FAQ page.

Rarely does the Conservancy have the opportunity to protect a place a special as the former Camp Tapico in central Kalkaska County. This property, owned and operated by the Boy Scouts for about 80 years, spans an impressive 1,288 acres and includes a wide variety of high-quality wildlife habitat. Of particular interest is the near complete lack of invasive species, making this property extremely valuable from a conservation standpoint.

In addition to about a mile of the north branch of the Manistee River, this property includes its own 130-acre spring-fed lake, multiple types of wetland habitat and several kettle-hole ponds. Mixed northern mesic forests and fields provide additional valued habitat. The property supports a large number of species, including loons, bald eagles, smooth green snakes and other species of special concern. As it is also is adjacent to state land on two sides, completion of this project would significantly expand upon previously protected land.

The total cost for this project is about $3.9 million. To support this project, donate here.


(Photo by Eagle Eye Drone Service)

View our Maplehurst FAQ page here.

This spectacular 400-acre property is one of the largest remaining intact and undeveloped parcels near Torch Lake. From 1955 until 2011 it was home to Camp Maplehurst, a summer camp beloved by generations of campers and counselors. This beautiful property has northern hardwood forests and open meadows that surround Lake Maplehurst, a 60-acre spring-fed gem. Its position on high ground means visitors have views of Torch Lake, Elk Lake and Grand Traverse Bay.

We helped Milton Township successfully apply for a $1.9 million Michigan Natural Resources Trust fund grant so the land can be used for a public park. The grant, approved on Dec. 7, will cover about 70 percent of the cost to acquire the land. We anticipate a need of about $1.8 million to cover a local match requirement for the grant, the cost of immediate stewardship (including demolition of several aging buildings on the property) and endowing the property’s care.

While other recreational properties in Milton Township provide access to shoreline and nature, none at this time feature a trail system. GTRLC and the township believe this park would provide a wonderful setting for a trail system for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. There is also extensive waterfront area that will allow fishing, swimming and non-motorized boating. Aside from recreation, this is yet another project that will serve to safeguard water quality in the Chain of Lakes watershed.

The total cost for this project is about $3.9 million, with 1.8 million in private fundraising needed. To support this project, donate here.

Sand Lakes DNR Assist

This 160-acre parcel in Grand Traverse County’s Whitewater Township is tremendously important from a recreational standpoint. It’s surrounded on all sides by the Pere Marquette State Forest and serves as the main access point for Bullhead Lake. It contains a section of the Traverse City to Kalkaska Trail and has been used for nearly 30 years by the tremendously popular Iceman Cometh Challenge mountain bike race. In addition, the parcel is also used for the Mud, Sweat and Beers mountain bike race and is enjoyed by thousands of individual hikers, bikers and skiiers each year.

Grand Traverse County owned the land since 1977 and decided to sell it this year as part of a plan to alleviate pension debt. The parcel had been on GTRLC’s land protection radar for years, and when it was listed for sale in late May, GTRLC sprang into action and had a purchase offer to the county within a matter of days. Fortunately, the county accepted GTRLC’s offer over multiple higher bids. GTRLC plans to sell the land to the state of Michigan within the next few years.

Your generosity will help cover the expense of acquiring the property and costs associated with three years of property taxes, interest on the loan used to acquire the property, appraisal and environmental due diligence work, title and other transactional work, insurance liability and and more.

The Iceman race is offering a generous challenge grant in which it will match every donation dollar for dollar, up to $20,000.

The total project cost is around $331,000, and we currently need to raise about $80,000. To support this project, donate here.

Acme Bayside Park

This is the next step in a bold, community-driven plan to provide recreational opportunities and universal access to nature in Acme Township. The Conservancy is actively working to raise local matching funds so the township can receive a $300,000 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant for the township’s Bayside Park.

Between 2007-2013, GTRLC and the township partnered to plan, fund and implement a shoreline reclamation and public access project of statewide significance. More than 20 structures were removed, resulting in nearly six acres of land and 1,300 feet of shoreline on East Grand Traverse Bay being added to the existing Bayside Park and opened to the public in perpetuity.

Current plans call for improvements to the park, including new gardens, parking lots, updated restrooms, a playground, beach enhancements and much more. These elements will be designed for universal access, ensuring that people of all ages and abilities will be able to enjoy the park. Another exciting element is a TART trail connector, which will ultimately connect this park to the leg of trail that extends from Traverse City to Charlevoix. These improvements will further investments made by foundations and community members in previous phases of the project and will serve to make this park a true community asset.

The total cost for this project is about $635,000. To support this project, donate here.

Arcadia Marsh Addition

Our land protection team is close to finalizing a critical 12-acre addition to this preserve. This land, near the intersection of Glover’s Lake and St. Pierre, is grassland habitat used by a variety of birds. Its protection is perhaps most valuable, however, because it will extend the preserve boundary to the road and prevent as many as five home sites directly alongside the preserve. We will also now have the ability to directly control invasives on this parcel, further improving the overall health of the marsh.

The total cost for this project is about $104,000. To support this project, donate here.

Copeland Farm

Rarely does the Conservancy have a chance to protect a place that is so incredibly important in terms of both ecology and history.

The Copeland farm has roots that stretch back to William Copeland, the first permanent white settler of Kalkaska County. He took up residence on the land in 1855, and it’s been owned by his descendants ever since. But this historical significance, while certainly of note, arguably plays second fiddle to the tremendous conservation values of this 179-acre property.

This spectacular parcel has nearly 1,000 feet of shoreline on Lake Skegemog and more than 500 feet along Barker Creek, a key tributary. More than half of the property is high quality wetland that provides important wildlife habitat and protects the water quality of the lake by filtering runoff. This property has been on the radar of local conservationists since the early 1970s, when a grassroots effort led to the creation of the 3,300-acre Skegemog Lake Wildlife Area.  The Copeland parcel is adjacent to the wildlife area and contains the last significant undeveloped shoreline in the area.

In addition to natural features, a portion of this property contains viable farmland that has been in use since William Copeland first settled there more than 160 years ago.

We have spoken with the landowner and secured an option to purchase a conservation easement that would forever protect these critical ecological features.

The total cost for this project is about $245,000. To support this project, donate here.

Torch Ridge


This privately owned farm has a mile long ridge that looms over the east side of Torch Lake in Antrim County. Because homes have already been built on most properties at the water’s edge, developers have their sights on high grounds that provide exquisite views of the lake. A development plan, completed as part of our appraisal process, shows the potential for dozens of home sites on the property, including as many as 24 along the ridge itself.

We have a signed option to purchase a conservation easement on the property, and we’re now fundraising to complete this protection project. Although this land will remain in private hands and won’t be open to the public, we’ll all benefit from its protection. The property serves a very important role in filtering and cleansing water that enters Torch Lake, a role that would be severely diminished if it were to be developed. Protection will also preserve the beautiful natural view enjoyed by those love the beauty of Torch Lake.

The total cost for this project is about $1 million. To support this project, donate here.

Platte River Park

At the urging of the Honor Area Restoration Project (HARP), we recently secured a purchase option on a beautiful 52-acre parcel with 1,500 feet of frontage on the Platte River in Benzie County’s Homestead Township. Now, we’re supporting the township’s application for a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant to acquire the property and use it for a public park.

HARP is a citizen-led group that hopes to turn Honor into a destination rather than another place to pass through on the way to Beulah or Frankfort. A big part of HARP’s plan is to showcase the beautiful Platte, a blue-ribbon trout stream. Because there is relatively little public access to the Platte in the immediate area right now, this particular property would provide a big boost to these efforts.

This is an excellent example of a community conservation project in which our expertise can help local communities achieve their outdoor conservation and recreation goals. The Trust Fund will make a decision on this and other projects in December.

The total cost for this project is about $323,000. To support this project, donate here.

Arcadia Marsh UA Trail

An exciting new initiative will allow people of all ages and abilities to better access the wonders of Arcadia Marsh. GTRLC’s stewardship team hopes to break ground in fall of 2018 on a Universal Access (UA) trail that will traverse the marsh and allow visitors to fully appreciate the intricacies of this natural wonder.

Much like the UA-designed Overlook Trail at Arcadia Dunes, this flat, firm and level boardwalk trail will allow people who use wheelchairs or walkers – or with mobility issues in general – to easily walk through the marsh. And because the current marsh trail is already susceptible to sogginess and messy conditions due to fluctuating water levels, the boardwalk trail will present a substantial upgrade to anyone who visits the marsh, regardless of ability.

Plans call for the trail to be built along an old railroad grade, minimizing disruption to the marsh ecosystem. It will be about two feet off the ground, protecting native plants and soil while providing a better view for visitors. It will extend about three quarters of a mile through the marsh, starting at the existing parking lot and ending at a new lot near St. Pierre Road.

Aside from a clear path for hiking, birdwatching and more, the trail will include several bump-outs with benches, two observation platforms and a small fishing pier along Bowens Creek. It is anticipated that the trail may be periodically closed during certain highly sensitive nesting periods. Detailed surveys conducted by GTRLC volunteers over the past four years have given the Conservancy an excellent idea of what birds are active at which times.

To minimize impact on the marsh’s wildlife, trail construction will begin after the nesting season in 2018 and conclude before nesting in 2019.

The total cost for this project is about $1.2 million. To support this project, donate here.

Farmland Protection

Our goal is to protect 2,000 acres of fruitbelt farmland in our five county service area by 2021. and the timing is perfect for several reasons. Development pressure for farmland in Northern Michigan has never been higher as many fruit farms possess coveted views of East and West Grand Traverse Bay or lakes such as Torch and Elk in the Chain of Lakes watershed in Antrim County. At the same time, local support to protect farms continues to be strong. The “locally grown” food movement is now an economic pillar in the region, helping to create a thriving local food culture that attracts tourists and economic investment.  Finally, the Conservancy was one of the recipients of a cooperative federal Regional Conservation Partnership Program grant. The $2.8 million portion of the grant earmarked for our service area will be used to work with local farm families to extinguish development rights on key farmland while protecting water quality. This grant must be matched dollar for dollar through private support.

We hope to raise $13 million over five years. To support this effort, donate here.

Arcadia Marsh UA Trail

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