Jon Mayes, state Department of Natural Resources Recreation Grants Manager, said the trust fund board started to purchase more land in urban areas about four years ago, rather than purchase land in the Upper Peninsula where the state already owns considerable acreage.
“It’s a movement to try to acquire land where the people are, rather than with high gas prices having people drive up north to recreate,” he said.
Chown said protecting land from development is good for the economy because recreation and natural beauty promotes tourism, new businesses and population growth.
"We know this area’s going to grow, it’s a given, but you also need to balance that growth with protecting outstanding natural resources and improving your recreational assets,” he said.
Eighty-six total properties statewide are proposed for purchase or development this year, totaling more than $27.5 million. Other local properties include:
• Strombolis Lake, 160 acres in Grand Traverse County, $1 million, to fill gaps in state-owned land and provide possible opportunities for mountain biking and wildlife habitat.
• Dair Creek, 240 acres in Benzie County, $700,000, to fill gaps in state-owned land and protect almost a mile of Dair Creek, a cold-water trout stream that feeds the Betsie River.
• Boardman Valley Nature Preserve, 30 acres in Grand Traverse County, $270,000, to add more than 2,500 feet of frontage on the Boardman River.
• Thurston Park improvements in Antrim County, $162,500, to add a new bath house, walkway, boardwalk and dock space on Central Lake.
• Sands Park improvements in Kalkaska County, $30,900, to add two play structures.