Northern Michigan Outdoors: For many years, protecting the scenic qualities of US-31 near Mackinaw City to Traverse City has remained a high priority for Little Traverse Conservancy and Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy which covers from Antrim County southward. Many strides have been made over the past decade to ensure that some of the signature scenic views along the highway were preserved. Familiar scenes that we take for granted have been protected thanks to funding provided by private funders, foundations, and state and federal programs. Some 8.6 miles of scenic frontage and 1,350 acres will permanently remain free from development as a result of these efforts.
In late 2012, the Conservancy purchased conservation easements from two of the highest priority parcels along this corridor—the farms of Doug Warner and his mother Grace Warner. Since 1927, when Doug’s grandparents, Roland and Mary Baumbach, first purchased the land, three generations have farmed it. Grace has lived there for 88 of her 93 years, and Doug still runs the farm’s dairy and harvests crops from the land. Conservation practices have been employed over the decades, and Doug actively works with other farmers to continually improve the soils and the quality of the lands in that region.
As part of the family’s estate planning, Doug began working with LTC a few years ago. “Our family simply hopes that several generations from now, this land will look the same,” Doug said. “And we sincerely hope it can stay in agriculture as well.” Since completing the easements, Doug emphasizes what a valuable tool this was to help plan for the future. “I really encourage others to look into this option to help meet your own goals for your land and to pass it on to your heirs,” he said.
Together, the new conservation easements protect 173 acres and a mile of frontage along US-31, with half a mile protected along both sides of one stretch (see map). Funding was provided by the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation and the J.A. Woollam Foundation.