BENEFITING: Leelanau Conservancy
EVENT DATE: Dec 03, 2015
Our mission: Conserving the land, water and scenic character of Leelanau County. Since 1988, the Leelanau Conservancy has been devoted to protecting the land and water that make the Leelanau Peninsula one of the most unique and beautiful areas in the U.S.
• We have permanently preserved over 11,500 acres and over 40 miles of streams, rivers and shoreline, established 24 natural areas and preserves with 15 miles of trails, and worked with 159 landowners to protect their private property, including 47 family farm projects totally over 4,000 acres.
• In 2009, our first-of-its kind FarmAbility program received national attention for its innovative approach to farmland protection.
• In 2012 the Leelanau Conservancy and the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy were selected by the Land Trust Alliance out of more than 1,700 land trusts across the nation to receive its National Land Trust Excellence Award.
• In 2012, our Farmland Program received half of all Federal farmland protection funding allocated to the entire state of Michigan. • In 2014, we completed the $21 million Leelanau Forever Capital Campaign that protected some of Leelanau’s best natural landscapes and family farms while also helping ensure the Conservancy’s long term vitality and ability to uphold our conservation obligation.
• We are among the first group of land trusts in the country to become accredited through the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
• For every $1 of private donations we receive, we protect $4 worth of land.
• We are supported by over 3,500 donors and 350 volunteers annually.
• Of our annual expenses, 91% supports programs, 6.5% covers administration costs and 2.5% aids fundraising.
WHY LEELANAU FARMLAND?
The Cherry Republic has a long history of supporting the Leelanau Conservancy’s farmland preservation efforts – and for good reasons. Leelanau County possesses some of the best orchard land in the world. Because of its globally unique soils and microclimates, Leelanau is home to more tart cherry acreage than any other county in the United States. With more than 9,000 acres devoted to tart cherries—representing more than a million trees—Leelanau County alone produces more than 20% of the nation’s tart cherry crop each year. Michigan ranks as the second most diverse agricultural state in the nation, and Leelanau County’s fruit production is central to this diversity: in addition to being first in cherry production, Leelanau leads the Northwest Michigan region in growing apples, pears and plums, and provides a significant share of the region’s grapes.
HOW THE LEELANAU CONSERANCY PROTECTS FARMS
Fragmentation of Leelanau threatens the economic sustainability of Leelanau farms. Right now, we have unique opportunities to permanently protect land in Leelanau that won’t be available much longer—4 farmland project totaling over 600 acres that we hope to close in 2016. With so many important assets in the Leelanau Peninsula, the Leelanau Conservancy has to act strategically to focus our efforts where they will be most effective. The Leelanau Conservancy’s farmland protection efforts include:
• Purchase development rights from willing farmers to remove the development premium that weighs down farm profitability and hinders continued farming
• Provide a bridge to permanent conservation and strengthen our relationships with farm families with our Farm Conservation Agreement program
• Engage in partnerships that boost farm profitability and assist with intergenerational farm transfer