TRAVERSE CITY — A piece of property just 10 minutes from Traverse City is home to some of the area’s most iconic wildlife and natural features, including loons, bald eagles, and pristine waters.
Several local groups raised enough money to allow Long Lake Township to purchase the Timbers Recreation Area, with a matching grant from the Department of Natural Resources trust fund.
Now the property that stretches more than 250 acres will be protected from development and will be open to the public for passive recreation, such as hiking. The property includes frontage on Long Lake, all of Fern Lake and much of Page Lake.
“It’s important to preserve some of the best of what makes northern Michigan,” said Matt McDonough, the director of land protection for the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, which led the fundraising effort. “This is one of those properties that very much symbolizes northern Michigan.”
Locals raised nearly $900,000 to receive the matching grant of about $2 million.
“It’s a property that the community has been thinking about and worrying about for a long time and now it’s forever protected by the community stepping up to the plate and saying this is a priority, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we’re up to the challenge,” said Glen Chown, the Land Conservancy’s executive director.
The property holds both ecological and sentimental significance to local residents. It originally was owned by the Armour family of meatpacking fame, and then functioned as a Girl Scout camp for 50 years.
“The Armours brought a lot of work into this community and just helped out the community by hiring people back in that era when it was important for the economy,” said Karen Rosa, the Long Lake Township supervisor whose parents and grandparents both worked on the Armour estate.