When staff members of Little Traverse Conservancy were asked to reflect on themes that described 2016, they responded with words such as Resourcefulness, Passion, Partnerships, and Adventure.
Yet above all, the word each agreed as a recurring and overarching theme for the organization was Gratitude.
“Gratitude pervades this entire organization,” said Tom Bailey, the organization’s Executive Director. “We all appreciate the generosity of people who donate money to support our work, or their time and energy as volunteers in the field or the office. People who visit our preserves often call or write to say how thankful they are to have these places to enjoy, whether it’s a walk on the beach in summer, a snowshoe hike on a brisk winter day, a cross-country ski outing or a hunt in the fall. It is a true privilege to work for our communities who care so much about the natural world around them and how we humans can continue to care for it.”
The Conservancy enjoyed another strong year in all aspects of the organization.
In land protection, more than 2,400 acres were protected through land donations, land purchases, and privately-owned lands protected with conservation easements.
Happily, as the organization’s land protection and stewardship commitments continued to grow, so did the financial support given through our membership program.
This past year also saw a spike in people reaffirming their commitments to land conservation and education with a large increase in membership renewals from people who had let their membership lapse for a year or more.
In Stewardship, the Conservancy held its first-ever BioBlitz at which they studied a preserve intensely for a 24-hour period while identifying as many plants, animals and insects species as possible.
Parking areas were enlarged and trails expanded at some of our most popular preserves to accommodate more visitors.
The organization also increased the number of preserves where trails are groomed and parking areas plowed in winter.
After a human-caused fire on one of our preserves, we recovered quickly and harvested trees that the fire made susceptible to beetle infestation and disease.
We also completed management plans for our new Working Forest Reserve properties, prepared not only by a professional forester but also a wildlife biologist.
And with the help of hundreds of volunteers, monitored and maintained more than 110 miles of trails throughout our service area.
In education, we presented programs to more than 4,600 children from more than 260 school groups to help them appreciate nature and learn about the outdoors in the outdoors.
We also provided “Discovery Boxes” and other materials to teachers and home schoolers, consulted with local libraries on nature-related books and materials, and assisted with programs for day camps and area summer programs.
The main source of Little Traverse Conservancy’s strength and confidence is the support we continually receive from people who love the scenic beauty and natural integrity of the North Country.
These people are motivated more by their love for this area than loopholes in the tax code. And the Little Traverse Conservancy Board of Trustees and staff have managed our finances carefully to ensure that we’re financially strong for the long haul.
A big thank you to all who enjoy and support the work of this now nearly 45-year old organization that has actively preserved our ecological, scenic, and spiritually-enriching natural resources for all of these years.
EMMET COUNTY HIGHLIGHTS
In Emmet County alone, a total of 692 acres of land were protected in 2016. This included:
• A 153-acre acre privately-owned property with nearly 4,500 feet along the Maple River was permanently protected with a donated conservation easement.
• An 80-acre property in Readmond Township was donated to LTC and will be now known as the Wortley Family Nature Preserve.
• A 33-acre conservation easement was donated, protecting a privately-owned property on the edge of Wilderness State Park.
• A 40-acre conservation easement was also donated, protecting private land near Brutus.
• The Elbert Family Preserve near Crooked Lake grew with the purchase of an additional 22 acres.
• A beautiful mature 100-acre forest along M-119 was donated to LTC to become the Hoogland Family Nature Preserve.
• Kenyon Stebbins donated the 30-acre Sally Stebbins Nature Preserve near Boyne Highlands to LTC.
• Fundraising efforts successfully led to the purchase of the 236-acre Tanton Family Working Forest Reserve, formerly known as Christmas Mountain.
• A new observation platform was built at the Waldron Fen Nature Preserve with help from Petoskey Audubon and other volunteers.
CHARLEVOIX COUNTY HIGHLIGHTS
In Charlevoix County alone, a total of 254 acres were protected in 2016. This included:
• The 110-acre Parsons family farm along a mile of US-31 just south of Charlevoix was protected with a conservation easement, preventing future development.
• Winnie Boal donated a conservation easement to protect her 16-acre property along Lake Charlevoix.
• Doc Bauer donated a 5-acre addition to the Gatt Nature Preserve located just a few hundred feet from the shore of Lake Charlevoix.
• A 90-acre property in Hayes Township was purchased and added to the Susan Creek Nature Preserve.
• A 49-acre property was purchased to add to an existing Working Forest Reserve in Wilson Township.