From our 2008 Spring Newsletter
Our Chippewa Run Natural Area trail system will be extended, thanks to the generosity of adjacent landowners Bronwyn Jones and Joe VanderMuelen. The couple has donated a conservation easement on their 26 acres, forever protecting their land that borders the north end of our 111-acre natural area.
“It’s to give something back,” says Bronwyn. “Back in 2000, when we heard that the old orchard (now part of Chippewa Run) was for sale, and that the Conservancy had gotten that land, well, it meant a lot to us. Now, we want to extend that gift.”
The land has been in Bronwyn’s family since the 1930’s, when her grandfather, Paul “Van” Jones purchased 200 acres in the Empire area. Plans call for extending our current trail loop onto the Jones/VanderMeulen land, leading hikers to higher grounds where views are spectacular, particularly when leaves are off the trees.
The land has significant upland forest habitat, and is located below the scenic turnout on M-22 in Empire. It also contains a small wetland complex and a red pine plantation. Within a quarter mile of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the land also borders a state designated Scenic Heritage Route. “Its preservation will help to halt the continuous threat that conversion of buildable land to residential development poses to the ecological, scenic and passive-recreational values,” says Tom Nelson, land protection specialist who worked on the project. “Brownyn and Joe are such class acts. In partnering with the Conservancy, they truly exemplified the concept of a ‘team effort’ involved in our conservation projects. From the start, it was abundantly clear that they love their land and wanted to protect it as well as our adjacent natural area.”
Bronwyn says she and Joe feel fortunate to be able to donate the easement. “I have great empathy for people who must develop land to finance their retirement,” she says. “A lot of people also look at land as a legacy for children, and that can mean selling and dividing. I realize there are a lot of people who can’t donate a conservation easement and I understand that. But I hope that people who can do so will, because it adds to the quality of life for all of us.”
While out walking at Chippewa Run one day, she says she ran into a couple enjoying the trail. “They were positively gleeful about having this place to come to,” she says. Thanks to Bronwyn and Joe, there will be more at this natural area to be gleeful about!