Make a Difference Now
By Don Reed
You can make a difference now by helping MNA purchase a superb property adjacent to the Genevieve Casey Nature Sanctuary in Oceana County (near Pentwater, south of Ludington). How this opportunity came to MNA is a story in itself; a story of how difficult economic times pose hard choices for a generous, nature loving family, and how their cooperation with MNA resulted in a plan to protect a sanctuary.
If MNA did not agree to purchase the property, the owners would likely have to sell the entire parcel, approximately 40 acres, including their cottage. The owners offered that had they not been affected so adversely by the recent economic downturn, they would have considered leaving the property to MNA as a gift in their will. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond their control, this was no longer an option.
The owners approached MNA to see if we might be interested in purchasing the back portion of their property, which would double the size of the existing sanctuary. Our first impression was that it was unlikely that MNA would able to pursue this due to limited funds, but as we examined photos of the property, we were captivated. MNA sent Matt Schultz, regional stewardship coordinator, to visit the property. He was impressed after walking the land with the owners and recommended that we acquire the property.
Barry Horney, land protection specialist, and I made arrangements to visit the property on behalf of MNA’s Land Acquisition Subcommittee to determine how it fit with our acquisition priorities. One of our high priorities is to acquire or protect property that is adjacent to existing MNA sanctuaries to enlarge or to provide a buffer for our sanctuaries. With that in mind, in late November, Barry and I made our visit.
Although November was not the best time to see the property in all its glory, both Barry and I were extremely impressed. The photos, as nice as they were, could not do justice to the actual beauty of the land itself. It was even better than we had expected. We originally considered this property for its value in buffering our existing sanctuary, but upon seeing it, it became apparent that this property would be much more than a buffer.
The land offers a variety of habitat types, from oak-pine barrens to a cedar-hemlock swamp with a meandering crystal clear perennial creek running through it. As we walked along the creek, numerous brook trout appeared in the foot-deep water. The owners reported that in season, steelhead and salmon use the stream for spawning. All along the stream banks and sandy hillside are springs and seeps that feed the creek and flow into the wetlands of our existing sanctuary downstream to the east.
As the ground rises to the interior of the property, the hillside transitions from a heavily wooded wetland to a sparsely wooded area with oak-pine barrens. This high ground is the primary recharge area for the springs and seeps along the creek, and for the wetlands on our existing sanctuary to the east.
After our visit to the property, we met with the owners and were impressed with their resolve and commitment to see that this property would be protected. The result is a win-win situation for everybody. The owners get to keep their cottage next to the land they love, and MNA gets to double the size of an existing sanctuary and protect the watershed it depends upon. As an additional bonus, MNA ends up with quality neighbors who care about the property and will be stewards to assist MNA in keeping the entire property protected.
MNA needs your support to take advantage of this one time opportunity to conserve our existing Genevieve Casey Nature Sanctuary. Please consider giving to this worthwhile project. If this opportunity is lost, it almost certainly will be lost forever.
To support the efforts of MNA and help protect this piece of land forever, consider giving a tax-deductible donation by clicking here.
For more information on the Genevieve Casey addition and/or MNA, please visit our website.