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Torch Lake and Lake Charlevoix gain protection through annual trust fund grants

Kathy Partin

Four hundred acres just north of Traverse City will be protected for recreational use, with new trails to hike and bike, with the help of a grant issued by the state.

Each year, the Natural Resources Trust Fund gives out millions of dollars to selected local governments to fund some of the largest conservation projects in the state.

The 400-acre parcel will be purchased by Milton Township, with the help of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. It was formerly the site of Camp Maplehurst, with views of Torch Lake, Elk Lake, and Grand Traverse Bay.

Conservancy director Glenn Chown says it’s soon to be a “crown-jewel” of the region and will result in a healthier environment for the surrounding area.

“Had it been developed, because of the steep slope, because there are streams that flow into Torch Lake, it would have a lot of impact, negative impact, on water quality,” said Chown.

The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy also partnered with Acme Township, to receive a $300 thousand dollar grant for improvements to their 900-foot shoreline park on East Grand Traverse Bay.

Boyne City residents will benefit from the funding as well.

With the help of the Little Traverse Conservancy, Boyne was able to secure over $3 million dollars to help purchase 600-feet of waterfront along Lake Charlevoix, which will be open to the public for the first time in decades.

The state’s Natural Resources Trust Fund is money from oil and gas royalties leased to private companies and is used to ensure the public has access to safe and well maintained recreational areas for uses like trail running, cross-country skiing, and picnicking. The fund was created 40 years ago when Bill Milliken was governor of Michigan.

Tom Bailey, Director of the Little Traverse Conservancy, attributed a great deal of the state’s preserved beauty to the fund, and applauded the citizens of Michigan for their continued support.

“Two different times, the voters of the state have voted constitutional amendments to protect the trust fund,” said Bailey, “So I would say it’s a cherished fund in the state of Michigan and unique among the states in dedicating revenue in non-renewable resources to future generations.”