2015-08-06 / Outdoors

Conservancy has raised 95% of Palmer Woods funds

By Al Willman Of The Enterprise staff

PALMER WOODS has for years been managed as a sustainable forest, and as such has dirt trails throughout. PALMER WOODS has for years been managed as a sustainable forest, and as such has dirt trails throughout. The Leelanau Conservancy is just about ready to make its largest purchase — the 700-acre Palmer Woods property near Glen Arbor.

Donations are once again meeting demand as the nonprofit continues to protect property from development through the purchase of development rights or land itself.

Tom Nelson, first-year Director of the Leelanau Conservancy, said the Palmer Woods project has been about 20 years in the making.

“Things really got serious about a year ago,” he said.

Nelson said the $4.1 million that is needed to purchase the property is being raised largely through community support.

The project is named for the family that has, over nearly 40 years, purchased several plots of land to create one large parcel about a mile and half down Wheeler Road, southeast of M-22.

NELSON NELSON The Conservancy has started a community matching challenge for $265,000.

“We received an incredible amount of community support not only from this community, but across Michigan and the Midwest,” he said.

As of Thursday, 95 percent of the $4.1 million had been raised.

“We’re going to do what’s necessary to buy the property between late December and early January,” Nelson said.

Right now, he said the biggest need was for word to get out, which might help draw public support needed to complete the purchase.

“It’ll do that either with people donating online, or sending money,” Nelson said, adding that no other fundraisers are planned.

Once the purchase is made, not only will Palmer Woods be protected from development, but the property will open up for recreational uses.

Nelson said there will be stretches available for hiking and cross country skiing.

The forest is a main groundwater source for Glen Lakes. Protecting the forest, Nelson said, was critical to maintaining clean lakes.

“Keeping this land forested will help,” he said.

The area will be what Nelson called a “working forest” and an example of sustainable forestry.

“We expect Palmer Woods to be a shining example,” he said.

Funds raised through the sale of lumber will help the Conservancy pay property taxes as Palmer Woods will remain on tax rolls.

Glen Arbor Township supervisor John Soderholm expressed his support in a previous interview with The Enterprse.

“Preserving Palmer Woods for year-round use by members of our community as well as visitors will help support our local businesses,” he said at the end of May.

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