2017-01-05 / Life in Leelanau

Bloksberg Property to offer trails for public use

By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff


TILE ARTIST Leif Spörck plans to create about three miles of walking trails on his 33-acre property on Sylt and Duck Lake roads that, in the style of his Norwegian heritage, will be open to the public. TILE ARTIST Leif Spörck plans to create about three miles of walking trails on his 33-acre property on Sylt and Duck Lake roads that, in the style of his Norwegian heritage, will be open to the public. Tile artist Leif Spörck was in Norway in September when he had an epiphany.

Spörck, 38, would spend his life savings on a wooded, wildlife-rich slice of land where hiking trails could be enjoyed by everyone in true Norwegian style, rather than on a brick building.

The owner of Spörck Tileart had been saving money for 15 years for something special. He just wasn’t sure what that something special should be.

He had made an offer on the former OneUpWeb building on Duck Lake Road and then headed for his annual trip to Norway, where he spends time with aunts and uncles and cousins, visiting the place where his paternal grandfather Claus Spörck was born — known as Bloksberg — and immersing himself in his Norwegian heritage.


TRAIL MARKERS at Leif Spörck’s ‘Bloksberg’ property will be red T-shaped tiles attached to trees. Sporck also plans to create a cement monument that will be placed at the entrance of the property on Sylt Road. TRAIL MARKERS at Leif Spörck’s ‘Bloksberg’ property will be red T-shaped tiles attached to trees. Sporck also plans to create a cement monument that will be placed at the entrance of the property on Sylt Road. “To think that all my money from 15 years would go into that brick building,” Spörck said. “Slowly you start to realize, is that what I’ve been doing all these years? Saving for a building?

“I realized that’s not what I wanted.”

He then emailed an offer for a 33-acre property on the corner of Sylt and Duck Lake roads that he had been looking at for a few years.

By October Spörck was the new owner of the property, where he plans to create about three miles of trails modeled after trails in Norway, a country where ‘no trespassing’ is an almost unknown concept.

And it may have been a little bit of divine intervention that guided Spörck's thoughts, as the centrally-located OneUpWeb building will now be the new home of Leelanau Christian Neighbors, housing its food and baby pantries and other programs.

Spörck's property has been named Bloksberg in honor of Claus Spörck, who died when Spörck was a teenager. It's located about a mile down the road from Spörck's father's Suttons Bay Township property where both father and son have galleries — the father for his pottery and the son for his unique, nature-inspired tiles.

A stream originates on Bloksberg, goes though Lake Leelanau and heads past Fishtown via the Leland River — where Spörck’s second Tileart gallery is located — before spilling into Lake Michigan.

Spörck has already started to clear a trail that will run around the perimeter of the property by cutting back trees and raking as he hikes along. Other trails will crisscross the land, heading up and down its hills and passing a 200-year-old maple that grows there.

He has also put up a motion-activated camera and has spotted deer, bobcats, turkey and several species of song birds.

Trails will be marked with ceramic Ts made by Spörck that will be mounted onto trees, and he'll create a cement monument with the Bloksberg name on it that will be set at the entrance to the property.

Creating trails that will be open to the public is another way for Spörck to give back to the community, as all of the money used to purchase the land was earned from his very successful tile business, something he is very grateful for.

"It puts feeling into my work," he said. "I wanted to own some property. But just to own it would be boring."

It is also a nod to the 'freedom to roam' concept in Norway, where everyone has the right to access public or privately-owned land for recreation and exercise. People there can put up a tent, have a bonfire or sleep under the stars anywhere in the countryside, forests or mountains, as long as they stay at least 500 feet away from the nearest inhabited home or cabin.

'No trespassing' signs are rarely seen in Norway, Spörck said. If you come across a fence gate you just open it and walk or drive through the property, making sure you close the gate behind you.

"When you're there you never have a concern of being on someone's property," he said. "You'll see people camping randomly all over the place. There are cars parked along the road and you know they're just in the woods someplace."

But along with that freedom comes an unspoken and deep respect for the land and for people, Spörck said.

"There's a sense of respect," he said. "You just don't go walking by someone's house."

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