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Village of Michiana and Chikaming Open Lands partner to protect 11 acres of critical dune and beach

Posted on November 4, 2016

On August 15, 2016 Chikaming Open Lands and the Village of Michiana completed a project which placed a conservation easement on approximately 11 acres of Village-owned property on the Lake Michigan shore. The easement, which was donated to Chikaming Open Lands by the Village, protects this very valuable beach and critical dune area in its natural state forever. 

This project marks the first lakefront property that we have protected, and it is also the first conservation easement agreement between the conservancy and a municipality in the area. The easement extinguishes the residential development rights on the 11 acres, while ensuring the dunes and beach remain Village-owned and open to the community for recreational use.

“The easement area includes a nice stretch of critical dune and beach”, said Land Protection Specialist Ryan Postema. “The lakefront in our area has become highly developed with a large portion of the land privately-owned, so not only are we protecting a unique dune ecosystem and important wildlife habitat, we are also helping to preserve the scenic view and public access to Lake Michigan, one of our greatest natural resources.”  While the conservation easement was a full donation by the Village of Michiana, project costs like surveys, an environmental assessment, legal fees and closing costs were funded in part by The Pokagon Fund through a $17,000 grant to the Village, as well as 14 donors residing in the Village who contributed $6,200 to the project.  The project came to the attention of Chikaming Open Lands' late executive director Chris Thompson three years ago. While attending a Pokagon Fund service event, Village of Michiana Council President Tim Iverson met Thompson, who introduced him to the concept of what a conservation easement could mean for the Village of Michiana. “With the strong support from our Village residents, we were able to complete this ambitious project to place conservation easements on more than 40 parcels of open land along the lakefront”, said Iverson. “By partnering with COL to protect its lakefront, the Village has created a living legacy to the Village of Michiana and its residents while preserving the natural beauty of Lake Michigan's shores for generations to come.”