More than 271,000 acres of land across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula will be conserved, thanks in part to $31.5 million in support from nine state foundations, including a five-year, $10 million grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Through the purchase of easements and the outright purchase of land by the Michigan Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, more than 2.5 million acres of protected land will be stitched together across the Upper Peninsula.
In addition to protecting the land for recreational activities, such as hunting, fishing and snowmobiling, the purchase agreement keeps ownership of the land private, maintaining an important tax base for local municipalities. The agreement limits development in order to protect environmentally sensitive forest land while also allowing timber harvesting to continue within the guidelines of a recognized sustainable forestry certification program. This preserves timber-industry jobs for many U.P. residents.
Mott Foundation President William S. White said generations of Michigan residents will benefit from the preservation of the land.
“One of the strengths of philanthropy is its capacity to invest in projects for the long term,” he said. “While this often takes patience and persistence — just as bringing this project together did — the end result is worth the effort.”
The Northern Great Lakes Forest Project also protects:
- More than 300 lakes, including 74 larger than 10 acres;
- 192 miles of trout streams;
- 52,000 acres of wetlands;
- Habitats for endangered species, including the bald eagle; and
- Important natural resources, such as unique old-growth hemlocks.
The land purchase agreement is one of the largest conservation initiatives ever undertaken in The Nature Conservancy’s 54-year history. The conservancy’s mission is to preserve plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.