Preserve photo

This is a lake at the new Upper Manistee Headwaters: The Milock Family Preserve in Kalkaska County. Richard and Diana Milock recently donated $1 million to the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy’s $71.4 million Campaign for Generations.

TRAVERSE CITY — A major gift to the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy pushed the nonprofit within sight of its current fundraising goal.

Richard and Diana Milock, of Traverse City, recently donated a $1 million gift to the organization for its ongoing Campaign for Generations.

The $71.4 million effort seeks to protect and preserve more than 6,300 acres of sensitive farmlands and wild places at dozens of sites that dot the landscape from the Lake Michigan shoreline in Manistee County to the Jordan River Valley in northern Antrim County.

Jennifer Jay, the conservancy’s communications director, said they have now raised $67.8 million, leaving $3.6 million to go. The work has already begun.

“We have completed 36 projects since the campaign started, protecting more than 2,300 acres of land and 6 miles of shoreline, plus opened trails, including the universally accessible overlook trail at Arcadia Dunes, and completed park and natural area improvements,” Jay said.

There are 21 additional projects in the works that would protect another nearly 4,000 acres and more than 14 miles of shoreline, including the Mitchell Creek Meadows Preserve, Torch River Nature Preserve, several farm protections and more, she said.

Glen Chown, the conservancy’s executive director, said this unrestricted gift from the Milocks comes after the couple previously offered a substantial loan that helped the agency secure the Upper Manistee Headwaters Preserve in Kalkaska County.

“To receive this level of support from two people so deeply respected in our community is a momentous honor,” Chown said.

Conservancy officials decided to honor the Milocks by dubbing one of the newest preserves for them — making it the Upper Manistee Headwaters: The Milock Family Preserve. It’s a 1,280-acre tract at the former Camp Tapico in Kalkaska County where invasive species are virtually absent and several lakes and the North Branch of the Manistee River can be found.

“I’m in full support of the work the conservancy is doing and that work takes money,” said Richard Milock. “In business it takes money to make money, and in the conservancy’s case it takes money to do what they have to do. We’re glad to help out.”