Page 95 - Visitors Guide 18
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The trail at Clay Cliffs Natural Area ends at a viewing platform showing Lake Michigan and Lake Leelanau.
— Photo by kenscottphotography.com
Goats on patrol at stunning Clay Cliffs
Its green-and-blue, oval signs are everywhere.
And so is the Leelanau Conservancy.
The Conservancy, which grew out of a vision in 1988 from Ed and Bobbie Collins of Leland — who feared development would claim the essence of the Leelanau Peninsula — reaches into all nine townships in the county.
Some 25 natural areas now have that sign, and 13,000 acres have been preserved through outright ownership
by the nonpro t or through development rights seeking to preserve an agrarian way of life.
While the land network is impressive, the Conservancy is really in the people business, providing a vessel for some 2,800 members to show their love of Leelanau. It’s one of
the most successful nonpro ts in Michigan.
Conservancy chair Ed Ketterer of Leelanau Township learned about the importance of “outdoors” during family vacations spent in Canada before he’d heard of the county.
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but I now know that the north, in a very pure sense, was being imprinted in me by these youthful experiences. That’s why I need to be up here, and why it’s important to me to preserve Leelanau for future generations. Southern Michigan is wonderful, but it isn’t Leelanau,” he said.
The Leelanau Conservancy headquarters is located in Leland on First Street. A list of its natural areas can be found on its website.
Conservancy mission attracts 2,800 members
Leelanau County is on the front lines of the constant battle to keep invasive plants from crowding out natives ones. Only starting this year, there’s a new soldier enlisted in the  ght.
Through mid-June, don’t be surprised to  nd domestic goats corralled at Clay Cliff Natural Area, Their job will be to munch on garlic mustard, which is crowding out native plants like spring beauty, trillium and pink lady slippers.
The love of native plants, in turn, reduces the food supply for birds, butter ies and other wildlife.
Clay Cliffs should be at the top of your list for Leelanau walks. Located about three miles north of Leland, it’s parking lot is found off M-22. A short walk puts you seemingly at the top
of the world, with views of Lake Michigan on one side and Lake Leelanau on the other.
The natural area is owned by Leland Township, which purchased the land in 2013
An invasive species soldier.
— Photo by Amy Mcintire
through fundraising efforts by the Conservancy and Natural Resources Trust Fund. The Conservancy is contracted to manage the property, which includes 1,700 feet of frontage on the lakes and nearly 105 acres.
Some  ve invasive species workbees are scheduled for late spring and early summer, with the goats keeping the effort rolling while volunteers rest up.
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