Trust fund board approves $467Okay Hickory Forest grant | Local News
TRAVERSE CITY – Thirty years ago Clarence Kroupa showed Glen Chown, managing director of Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, the property that is to become the Hickory Forest.
The now-deceased Kroupa wanted it to be preserved back then, Chown said. On Wednesday, that goal shared with him by his daughters came one step closer to reality when the board of directors of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund recommended a grant for purchase. That $ 467,600 plus money from an electorate approved in November 2020 from Traverse City and Garfield Township will put the country into the public domain.
“Christmas comes early for those who love the great outdoors in the Grand Traverse region,” said Chown.
You have to be securely in place before you can hike the 76 acres between Hickory Hills, the Bay Meadows Family Golf Course, and the M-72, Chown said. Wednesday’s vote was a recommendation that the state legislature must then approve, followed by a signature from the governor. Other steps, such as land surveys and planning trails that balance passive recreation with preserving the land’s sensitive spots, mean it could take some time until the end of 2022 before the land is open to the public.
Chown said there will likely be a celebration if it does, and those who head off will find plenty to like.
“It’s a great property, it’s full of wildflowers in the spring, there’s great bird watching, if you like birds it’s a fantastic location, and I just love the topography,” he said. “I think people are going to love the trails and hiking and trail running and all of those things.”
This grant will cover 70 percent of the cost of $ 668,200, according to documents.
Traverse City and Garfield Charter Township’s joint recreation agency will own the property, making it the fourth in the agency’s portfolio alongside nearby Hickory Meadows, Historic Barns Park and a small property between the Traverse City Open Space and volleyball courts, said Chown. The land ownership has a transferable purchase option on the property that it transfers to the Recreation Authority after funding.
Matt Cowall, the agency’s executive director, said he was initially unsure whether an election amid a pandemic was the right time to ask voters to approve a millage. But they got through with overwhelming support, and now the agency should have the means to not only buy the land but also manage it.
The agency is expected to work on completing a preliminary land use plan for the hickory forest with land protection measures in early to mid-2022, Cowall said. The public has an opportunity to comment on the final plan.
“We are going to look at different ways to access the property and find out some of the details on site that made no sense to go into detail without knowing whether the authority actually owned or not and operate the property” , he said.
As one of three public spaces – Hickory Forest, Hickory Hills and Hickory Meadows – the agency will also look at how usage can be coordinated between the three, Cowall said.
Richard Lewis, now the mayor of Traverse City, was part of a group that supported Millage Ask that made the purchase possible. He thanked everyone who supported Millage and the NRTF Board of Directors for their recommendation and called the development “fantastic” on Wednesday.
Lewis said he backed the project because it was a rare opportunity – Chown called it a unique lot, and Cowall said there aren’t many lots like this near Traverse City or in Garfield Township. Plus, putting the land into public hands seemed like a natural extension of Hickory Hills and Hickory Meadows, Lewis said.
“It just went together, it just all went together,” he said.