As of the spring 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 arupard@gtrlc.org.

Maplehurst
Torch Ridge
Overlook Trail at Arcadia Dunes
Petobego State Game Area Addition
Milton Township Beach
Wintergreen Woods
Maple Bay Farmhouse
Severance Creek
Old Mission Peninsula Farm

Maplehurst

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(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.

Torch Ridge

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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.

We are about halfway to our $1 million goal for permanent protection of this critical property.

Overlook Trail at Arcadia Dunes

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(Note: For more information about this project, please read our Overlook Trail at Arcadia Dunes FAQ.)

The Arcadia Dunes trails have provided wonderful opportunities for residents and visitors to experience one of the most spectacular features of our region: a challenging hike through a beautiful hardwood forest to breathtaking views from high bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan and the Herring Lakes. Many members of our community and visitors cannot share that experience because of mobility limitations. People who use wheelchairs, families with very young children, the elderly, and people with medical issues should be able to fully enjoy and share in their love for the beauty of our region. As a non-profit that exists for public benefit, we have an obligation to provide quality of life opportunities not just for the most physically fit among us but also for those with varying mobility.

Every component of the route has been designed and carefully sited to avoid damaging the natural features or changing the character of the preserve. The destination of the trail will be a viewing platform that will offer high quality views while keeping users off the face of the bluff. The platform is located three-quarters of a mile south of Baldy.

By providing easier access to a high bluff view of Lake Michigan, the Overlook Trail will likely relieve intensive seasonal pressure on Baldy. We will be tracking trail use and visitation before and after the Overlook Trail improvements to measure the change in use patterns.

Petobego State Game Area Addition

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This 47-acre addition to the Petobego State Game Area along the east shore of East Grand Traverse Bay has been on GTRLC’s priority list for more than two decades. It is situated between the existing Maple Bay Natural Area and the state-owned game area, meaning its protection would tie together previously protected lands surrounding the ecologically critical Petobego Pond. Successfully preserving this piece of the puzzle will connect more than 700 acres of public land and tie together 1.5 miles of shoreline open to the public.

This protection has a tremendous impact on water quality and will provide ample opportunities for recreation and wildlife viewing. The increasingly rare wetland habitat protected through this project is used by scores of birds, fish, plants and other wildlife.

In 2015, GTRLC helped the State of Michigan secure a $2.02 million Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant for the property. We are now raising funds to support management of the property and plans to provide public access for people of all ages and physical abilities.

Milton Township Beach


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Protection of this property will allow Milton Township to connect two previously acquired parcels and create a nearly 10-acre park with 380 feet of public access along Elk Lake in Kewadin.

GTRLC helped the township secure a $491,000 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant to acquire the former Water’s Edge Resort in 2015. Now, we’re working to raise about $100,000 to cover land acquisition costs and the demolition of several existing structures. Read more about this project in this story from our 2016 Spring Landscript.

Wintergreen Woods


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The planned Wintergreen Woods Preserve will protect 22 beautiful acres adjacent to Acme Township’s Sayler Park. Initial plans focused on fundraising to purchase a 9-acre parcel to add to the current park, but when a generous landowner gave GTRLC an adjacent 13-acre parcel, the decision was made that the Conservancy would retain ownership of both parcels and open a new preserve.

Once finalized, this preserve will include striking natural pine forest and an abundance of its namesake aromatic shrub, along with healthy populations of other plant species in the Heath family.  These small, tough evergreen plants​ (​​Wintergreen, Partridge Berry, Pipsissewa and others) ​do well in the acidic under-story of pine forests​.  This preserve will sit east and south of Sayler Park, effectively doubling the amount of land open to the public in the immediate area. Because it connects to the park and is close to the Yuba Creek Natural Area, it will also provide an important corridor for wildlife.

Maple Bay Farmhouse


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The iconic farmhouse at Maple Bay is a highly visible and inviting destination along the busy U.S. 31 corridor. GTRLC uses Maple Bay to engage with stakeholders, volunteers and the general public, and we hope to ramp up our efforts to use the now vacant farmhouse for a variety of public outreach activities. Maple Bay volunteers report that people regularly approach the house looking to learn more about it and GTRLC, and we think it’s time to leverage this asset to broaden support, enhance our brand and increase visibility in the community.

But this turn-of-the century beauty, like all older buildings, could use a little TLC. We’ve hired an architect to develop a design plan for the house. Conceptual drawings include five offices, a conference room and kitchen, along with ADA-compliant restrooms. We’re now raising funds to complete these renovations.

Severance Creek

GTRLC is raising funds to purchase a conservation easement on a beautiful property in northeast Antrim County. This gorgeous 76-acre, mostly wooded parcel includes 2,500 feet of frontage on Severance Creek, a significant tributary to the Jordan River. Protecting this parcel helps protect the water quality of the Jordan River – the first “Wild and Scenic” river included in the Michigan Natural Rivers Act of 1970 – as well as that of Lake Charlevoix, into which the Jordan empties.

Old Mission Peninsula Farm

Since our inception in 1991, we’ve worked tirelessly to protect farmland and natural areas on the Old Mission Peninsula. Our work, combined with Peninsula Township’s purchase of development rights (PDR) program, has protected more than 6,400 acres. That’s 36 percent of the peninsula’s total land area, and more than half of land within the designated Agricultural Preservation Zone! Now, our work continues with fundraising to purchase a conservation easement a 29-acre farm near Bowers Harbor. This property has a long history of productive farming and is capable of sustaining high quality agriculture well into the future. It is adjacent to several other farms with conservation easements, meaning its protection will add to a larger mosaic of protected land in the area.