Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, along with representatives of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, CMS Energy and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, announced today a major effort to permanently protect more than 6,000 scenic acres along the shore of Lake Michigan.
The Mott Foundation, along with other Michigan-based foundations including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and a host of individual donors will help support the $30.6 million “Coastal Campaign,” which is being spearheaded by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC).
Mott provided a 27-month, $750,000 grant for the project in 2001 and has pledged an additional $7 million grant, contingent upon successful completion of GTRLC’s ongoing fundraising campaign. In addition, Mott has offered to extend an interest-free loan of $6.15 million. Mott’s funding will help GTRLC obtain land originally purchased by land management companies associated with CMS Energy and intended for use as a pumped-storage power facility. The facility was never built and in the mid-1990s, resort developers took an interest in the land because of its spectacular beauty. GTRLC began negotiations in earnest late last year with CMS Energy to secure the property.
“Funding land acquisition is unusual for the Mott Foundation,” said Foundation President William S. White. “However, this is such a special opportunity that we stretched beyond our usual grantmaking to help preserve this outstanding piece of property.”
Including the 2001 grant, Mott has provided more than $1.5 million to GTRLC since 1995. Of significance was a 36-month, $225,000 grant made in 2001 to help the organization expand its capacity.
Lois DeBacker, director of Mott’s Environment program, said efforts made a few years ago to increase GTRLC’s development staff and prepare detailed fundraising plans created the opportunity for this current acquisition.
“Helping to build the organizational capacity of environmental organizations active in areas with high quality freshwater resources is a key component of our grantmaking,” DeBacker said. “Very few local land trusts have the capacity to undertake a conservation project of this magnitude. It’s fantastic to see GTLRC be so successful with this project as a result of the funding received from Mott and others just a few years ago.”