Green Point Dunes Conservation Easement Approved NRC Takes Steps to Protect Michigan Treasure: MI

Article Posted: March 13, 2005

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Green Point Dunes Conservation Easement Approved
NRC Takes Steps to Protect Michigan Treasure

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission today took important steps to protect a Michigan treasure, approving a $3.975 million conservation easement for 204 acres of land known as the Green Point Dunes area located two miles south of Elberta and Frankfort in Benzie County. The acquisition is the first phase of the proposed CMS Arcadia Bluffs-Green Point Dunes Project, an effort to protect some of the last undeveloped coastline on Lake Michigan. The easement will be funded by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.

"This conservation easement is vital to protecting a Michigan treasure," said Department of Natural Resources Director Rebecca Humphries. "When this project is complete, we will have helped preserve thousands of acres of forest and dune land, more than two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, critical dunes, and threatened and endangered species habitat. This easement will ensure that this spectacular piece of Michigan remains open to the public for generations to come."

"I applaud the DNR for their action to protect this rare undeveloped stretch of coastline and preserve a way of life that is unique to our state," said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. "This project represents some of the best qualities of Michigan -- more than three miles of pristine shoreline, majestic sand dunes, and acres of irreplaceable farmland and forest."

The acquisition is in partnership with the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC). It contains just over 2,100 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline, sand beach, open grassy areas and wooded habitat. A significant part of the shoreline is a high bluff with spectacular views of Lake Michigan and Lower Herring Lake. The property also offers dramatic views of the rugged, picturesque lakeshore from the water.

The DNR will acquire the development rights and public access for recreation, including fishing, hunting and trapping rights. The primary purposes of the easement are to protect the property's natural resources and watershed, to maintain and enhance biodiversity, to retain high quality habitat for native plants and animals, and to provide public access that is compatible with natural resources protection.

The following provisions are key parts of the easement:

* Development in the property will be limited to visitor structures, such as trails, signs, kiosks, bathrooms and parking areas. No residential, commercial or industrial development will be permitted.

* Only dead or diseased trees and non-native plant species will be removed from the property as part of an ecological restoration plan. In two designated areas, vegetation may be managed for open grassland, recreational purposes and scenic views.

* Only pedestrian access will be allowed. The GTRLC will retain rights to control public access in certain areas to protect sensitive natural features.

* Hunting and trapping are permitted on the property subject to state law. Hunting and trapping may be subject to certain guidelines to protect public safety and resource values of the property as specified in the DNR-approved property management plan.

* A detailed property management plan will be submitted to the DNR for approval within 180 days of the closing of the transaction, with the property being open for public access during this time.

The Green Point Dunes property is primarily northern hardwood forest. It is an important wildlife corridor for migratory songbirds and is considered by naturalists to be important habitat for warbler migration. The property also contains habitat for many rare wildlife and plant species, including Pitcher's thistle, American chestnut, Lake Huron locust, Caspian tern, merlin, bald eagle, peregrine falcon and Cooper's hawk. Approximately half the property is designated as "critical dune area" because of its fragile and unique geological and biological dune area.

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