Dlugopolski: Northport - The Leelanau Conservancy

Dlugopolski: Northport

66-Acre Dlugopolski Cherished Family Lands Near Northport Preserved Through Conservation Easement

From our 2009 Fall Newsletter

A family’s reverence for a 66-acre tract of land north of the village of Northport has translated into its permanent preservation. Joe Dlugopolski and his four children have placed a conservation easement* on this multi-faceted piece of land through a bargain sale of development rights.
“The conservation value of this large, undeveloped land is quite significant,” says Yarrow Wolfe, Land Protection Specialist. “The high quality wetland helps contribute to the protection of the Grand Traverse Bay watershed and provides important wildlife habitat too.”
Joe, a life-long hunter who has been coming to the area from his home in Midland for 35 years, calls the land “a good place to watch nature.” He and his late wife, June, and their grown children have many happy memories of time spent in Leelanau. Joe’s son, Randy, who lives in Gladwin but comes to Leelanau as often as possible, gave us his unique perspective on his family’s land:

“Thank you, Leelanau Conservancy, for partnering with us to protect and share in the management of our family’s unique and varied tract of land.

Although we are not natives of Leelanau County, we might as well be. My first memories of Northport started as a child of 12. We stayed at the little red cottage on Northport Creek behind the old firehouse. We fished the creek and pond and rode bikes and played tennis next door. (If any of you can remember the tennis courts). Later, our parents purchased a cottage on Northport Bay which allowed my sister to work at the Leland Lodge and the three “boys” to work as security guards at the Northport Cottage owners Association. The wonderful people and places of this beautiful county kept us coming back as often as possible.

I can take you on a virtual tour of this delicate 66 acres via a drop of water. Imagine that drop first landing at the foot of an apple or cherry tree on the Kendall Probst farm next to our land, then heading south across Hwy. 201 toward our acreage. The drop would meander by a huge stand of red pines and remnants of an orchard. Next stop on the journey would be a hardwood forest and then a visit to an impenetrable cedar swamp.

The drop would then travel into a large meadow and ridge originally used to graze cattle or grow corn. Along the way this little droplet would also spot a small logging road and a deer blind tucked into the brush. I imagine it resting a while in a natural duck pond surrounded by dense trees and brush. Its journey would continue through two more small hardwood ridges that house coyote and fox dens. Then this drop of water would settle out in a vast tall-grass and tag-elder area with evidence of massive cedar trees that existed before the logging era. Picking up speed on its race towards the lake, the drop would traverse a steep ridge only to emerge in a natural spring on the side of the hill. Finally the little droplet would cross the Mattson property, also protected by a conservation easement, and past our family cottage, and make its way to bask in the deep blue waters of Lake Michigan.

We have so many memories of our family adventures in Leelanau County. Our use and enjoyment of this little peaceful tract of land abound so that I will write a book some day titled A Little Lad in the Lovely Lands and Lakes of Leelanau!”

–Randy Dlugopolski

* A conservation easement is a legal agreement: protecting the natural qualities of land by restricting development. Each agreement is tailored to meet the needs of landowners. The land stays in private ownership and is not open to the public. Such agreements can result in income tax deductions and reduced property and estate taxes. Download our Guide to Conservation Agreement Booklet here to learn more about protecting your land.