In the late fall of 2017, what was once George and Sue Lane’s property in Gladwin County was donated to The Little Forks Conservancy. This was a collaboration between the Conservancy, the Leon P. Martuch Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and Chippewa Watershed Conservancy. George was a longtime Conservancy supporter, a former board member and a conservation easement donor.
The Lane property is 270 acres with three quarters of a mile of frontage on the North Branch of the Cedar River. The property includes important forestland habitat, open grasslands, and scenic views of the surrounding area. George and Sue’s stewardship ethic led to dramatic improvements to the property, specifically regarding wildlife habitat, removing sediment from the river and controlling erosion along the river. The North Branch of the Cedar River is one of a limited number of cold-water trout streams located within the northern reaches of the Saginaw Bay Watershed. The Lane family initially protected the property with a conservation easement and now the property will be a nature preserve to not only benefit the natural resources of the land, but also the local community.
With George and Sue’s vision for their land in mind and with partners like Trout Unlimited and Chippewa Watershed Conservancy alongside of us, we cannot wait to see what projects we can accomplish on the first Little Forks preserve outside of Midland county, a strategic goal of the last two strategic plans for the organization. The riparian corridor will be managed by the Leon P. Martuch Chapter of Trout Unlimited with the Conservancy managing the remainder of the property and Chippewa Watershed Conservancy holding the conservation easements.
In 2018, we began building trails, installed boundary markers, removed an old house and installed a parking area. The property can be accessed from a parking area located on Shearer Road approximately 1/3 mile south of M-18. “The George and Sue Lane Preserve has a lot of potential; we are starting with a mile of trail but hope to expand in the years to come” said Sara Huetteman, Little Forks’ Stewardship Coordinator.