An organization that shields high-value farm and natural lands from development in five northern Michigan counties is kicking off the public phase of a $71 million campaign to protect additional parcels.
The Grand Traverse Land Conservancy says urgent action is needed as the popular resort area attracts more commercial and residential growth. Instead of trying to preserve threatened properties on a piecemeal basis, it's raising a pot of money to deal with dozens.
The conservancy is targeting lake and river shoreline parcels, wetlands, forests and the area's prized fruit orchards. Some would be purchased outright, while others would be preserved with easements that permanently limit development.
The organization says it has raised $53 million from foundations and individual donors. It hopes to raise an additional $18 million from the public.