Land Conservancy Of West Michigan
Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area along the Lake Michigan shore. Photo by Kevin Halstead/Flickr
Securing the latest addition to the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area along Lake Michigan was a saga worthy of the big screen. It took five decades. It cost $19 million. The cast of characters included an Oklahoma landowner, a regional land trust (the Land Conservancy of West Michigan), a host of local donors, state and municipal government officials—and, at a critical moment, The Conservation Fund.
“Projects like this are about patching pieces together to create something really valuable,” says conservancy director Peter Homeyer. “They are very delicate. They’re built on a lot of trust among a lot of partners. The Conservation Fund staff like Peg Kohring [director of the Midwest office] helped us build and maintain that trust.”
In this case, the land trust turned to the Fund for a final bolster of funding late in the game, as the real estate clock ticked down. Moving quickly, the Fund provided a sizable loan that ultimately led to the conservation of 171 acres with a rare expanse of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline. This one-of-a-kind place is now protected for all to enjoy.
“We were having trouble coming up with the final $3 million we needed to complete the purchase. The window of opportunity was closing fast, and we wouldn’t have been able to squeeze through that window without The Conservation Fund. The Fund was a wonderful white knight, riding in with a bridge loan we needed to complete the deal.” — Peter Homeyer, Executive Director