Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 6, 2013

Grand Traverse area lands state acquisition grants

By MICHELLE MERLIN mmerlin@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Michigan natural resources officials recently decided it’s well worth $2.5 million to preserve about 8 acres on Old Mission Peninsula with beach access, an effort to keep the area from being turned into 10 lavish homes.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board approved a grant for the Department of Natural Resources to acquire the land. The grant was one of five approved land acquisitions in the Grand Traverse area.

Area communities will receive just over $5 million worth of grants for land acquisition projects, the trust fund board said. The area received over 25 percent of the total state money granted to land acquisitions.

“I think it reinforces the value the folks in our region put on public land and recreational access and having access to natural resources,” said Matt McDonough, the director of land protection for the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy.

The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy held the five properties until the grant money was announced. This year marked an increase in requests from the Conservancy, which usually focuses on one or two acquisitions, McDonough said.

“It means more public access to the Great Lakes, better parks, expanded parks, better access to the Boardman River, protection of one of the finest brook trout springs in northern Michigan at Dair Creek, and more protection for one of our most important recreational assets,” said Glen Chown, the conservancy’s executive director. “This is a little bit for everybody.”

Changes to the properties probably won’t go into effect for at least nine months.

Old Moorings, the $2.5 million project, will provide access to beaches on Old Mission Harbor. Grant terms allow the DNR and Peninsula Township to work together to determine the best use of the property, which could be used as a boat launch site or for public swimming access.

Peninsula Township also will acquire 59 acres to expand Bowers Harbor Park. The parcel is a failed subdivision that previously had been approved for 42 condos.

Garfield Township received $270,000 to expand the Boardman Valley Nature Preserve. The new property will allow people to have more access to the Boardman River.

“The long-term plan is to construct a park there with a trailhead and hopefully a little playground, parking lot, and some kind of a shelter,” Chuck Korn, Garfield Township supervisor said. “We have a really nice park on the west side but nothing on the east side, so this is a step in that direction.”

Trust fund board members also doled out $1 million to acquire Strombolis Lake, a 20-acre property in Grand Traverse County that contains four small glacial lakes.

The state will purchase another 240 acres in Benzie County. The property, which runs along Dair Creek, is essential for several animals. It’s the largest producer of steelhead in the watershed and provides a habitat for the wood turtle, box turtle and bald eagle.

The state denied requests to develop a trail and overlook at the C.S. Mott Nature Preserve and for improvements to Maple Bay Park and Natural Area.