Little Forks Conservancy celebrates new preserve with ribbon-cutting ceremony

Little Forks Conservancy (LFC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that aims to protect and improve Mid-Michigan’s natural environments. In partnership with Leon P. Martuch Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU), LFC is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 21 for the George and Sue Lane Preserve in Sage Township, northwest of Gladwin. Since 1996, the Midland-based organization has protected over 3,809 acres of land, 20 miles of shoreline, and 10 miles of trails all over the state.
 
The event will be held from 2-5 p.m. Light refreshments and a staff-guided hike will follow. Reservations can be made online or by calling 989-835-4886.
 
The 270-acre preserve features 2.5 miles of panoramic trails, forestland, grassland, a pond, and the Cedar River’s cold-water trout habitat. Initially, in 2004, the land was donated as a conservation easement — a voluntary, legally recorded agreement between the State of Michigan and a landowner. This agreement prohibits any development that would diminish the agriculture and open-space use. After George Lane’s passing in 2016, the property was left to the Trout Unlimited (TU) chapter. 

The 270-acre preserve features 2.5 miles of panoramic trails, forestland, grassland, a pond, and the Cedar RiverLittle Forks Executive Director Elan Lipschitz says, "The Lane’s dedication to protecting natural areas and sharing with the Mid-Michigan community the opportunity to access these special places in nature is truly a gift in itself that benefits our region and state."
 
TU Chapter President Josh Jenkins says that although the chapter had expertise in managing waterways, they were lacking the ability to manage the non-riparian zone of the property. To best fulfill Lane’s wishes for the property to be available for public hunting and fishing, they decided another partner was needed. 
 
That partner became the Conservancy when they acquired the land in 2017. After developing trails and parking, the preserve opened in 2018 to the public. 
 
Little Forks Conservancy (LFC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that aims to protect and improve Mid-Michigan’s natural environments.“By partnering with Little Forks Conservancy,” says Jenkins, “I truly believe we are doing the best to maintain both the land and water of the Lane Preserve and meet George’s desires as an outdoorsman and conservationist.”

For Lipschitz, the occasion resembles the behind-the-scenes teamwork that is required to restore and protect natural environments. 

“We are excited to spread the word and encourage more visitors to experience this wonderful property,” says Lipschitz. “It’s an example of collaborative work between the Leon P. Martuch Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Little Fork Conservancy to improve the riparian habitat, reduce invasive species, protect water quality, and develop access through the creation of trails.” 

Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.

Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at spohn9@gmail.com.