Little Traverse Conservancy Records, 1972-2013 (majority within 1984-2003)
Using These Materials
- The record group, except for the papers of Thomas Bailey (boxes 5-11) is open for research. The Bailey papers require the written permission of the donor.
- Little Traverse Conservancy.
- Harbor Springs, Michigan organization founded in 1972 to promote conservation through land acquisition by donation or purchase, the establishment of nature preserves, and educational programs, rather than through lawsuits or political action. The record group consists of correspondence, memoranda, minutes, reports, notes, newspaper clippings, press releases, annual reports, and brochures relating to its history and activities. Also included are biographical sketches of founding members based on oral history interviews and some photographs, slides, and architectural drawings. In addition, there are records relating to various outside activities of executive director Tom Bailey.
10.5 linear feet
14.8 GB (online)
- Call Number:
- 0082 Bn 2
- Finding aid prepared by: Rebecca Bizonet and Michigan Historical Collections staff
- Scope and Content:
The records of the Little Traverse Conservancy (LTC) document the organization's history and dealings. The record group sheds light on the accomplishments of LTC, most notably its land acquisitions, the establishment of its nature preserves, and its environmental education program, as well as its internal organization and growth. In addition, other activities of its members are documented, in particular those of executive director Tom Bailey, who has served in various capacities in several other community- and state-based organizations. The LTC records cover the period from the Conservancy's founding in 1972 to 2006. The record group is divided into six series: Background Information, Early Board of Trustees Files, the Horace M. Huffman, Jr. Files, Projects, Executive Director Files (Tom Bailey), and Tom Bailey - Other activities. Correspondence in all series is primarily outgoing. Most files are ordered chronologically (generally in reverse chronological order) unless otherwise noted.
- Biographical / Historical:
The Little Traverse Conservancy, located in Harbor Springs in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula, is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving unique and environmentally sensitive land in northern Michigan through purchase, donation and conservation easement. Its founding members, Dr. John Tanton, David Irish, Frank Pierce, and Earl Larson, along with legal counsel and ally Seberon "Boo" Litzenburger and supporters Ed Koza and John Fischer, originally joined together as the Little Traverse Group in 1972 to file suit to stop two highly commercial developments being planned for the area, Cedar Cove and the Birchwood Farms Project, which they felt were a threat to the area's environment and natural character. Although some modifications to and limits on the developments resulted, the lawsuit was ultimately unsuccessful and it created controversy and resentment within the community.
Because of these problems, the Little Traverse Group decided instead to form a land conservancy, by means of which they would preserve land by buying it rather than fighting expensive, divisive, and potentially unsuccessful legal battles. Thus, the Little Traverse Conservancy was born, incorporating itself in 1972. Models for the new organization were established land conservancies: The Nature Conservancy (a national body) and the Collier County Conservancy in western Florida. In addition, co-founder John Tanton discovered the Summer Resort and Playground Act of 1911, which exempted land held in trust by certain organizations from paying property taxes. This was to prove a great boon to the group.
The early Little Traverse Conservancy (LTC) was led by (and consisted mainly of) its Executive Committee, made up of the original Little Traverse Group members and joinee Wrigley "Bud" Offield. In its initial stage, there was no executive director or any other permanent staff, with day-to-day leadership coming from the Executive Committee and less frequent guidance from the Board of Trustees. All work was done on a volunteer basis. In 1979, the first executive director position was created on a half-time basis, with Kathy Bricker filling the position. The following year, Susanne Dye took over, with C. Louis Borie, LTC's first full-time director, following her. (Further details of this and other key roles within LTC are provided in the organizational chart and timeline at the end of this section.)
With each passing year, LTC grew in membership, staffing, and know-how, as well as increasing the number of its nature preserves and land protection programs. LTC produced its first annual report in 1980. In 1981 it developed the "Friends of the Little Traverse Conservancy" fundraising program, under the strong leadership and tireless efforts of Horace "Huffy" Huffman, an influential leader in numerous areas of the organization for many years.
Huffman was the son of the founder of the bicycle company Huffy Corporation and its CEO before taking early retirement and becoming active in the Little Traverse Conservancy. A Trustee as early as 1972, he served in many different capacities, including vice-president for Membership, in charge of the Friends of the Little Traverse Conservancy Fundraising Program; chairman of the Land Acquisition Program; secretary of the Executive Committee from 1984 to 1987; and chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee. Huffman was responsible for shaping LTC's organizational structure early on and was so personally involved in the fundraising process that he eventually felt the need to train others in this area so that LTC would not become too dependent on any one individual. He also served as a mentor to the executive directors, particularly Tom Bailey.
The first land acquisitions were donated, mainly by group members and their friends and relatives, but in 1984, LTC completed its first land purchase, Orchis Fen. This was also the year that initial work began on the Colonial Point Forest Project, a three-year effort to save a unique parcel of red oak forest that had been recently fallen under the ownership of a lumber company. The organization was progressing internally as well. 1984 saw a move of the LTC office building to its current site at its own Round Lake Nature Preserve; Tom Bailey, longtime and current executive director, came aboard near the end of the year, officially assuming leadership in January of 1985; and Tom Lagerstrom was hired as membership coordinator (later returning as associate director). In 1985, the Colonial Point Forest Project was officially initiated and an endowment fund created to ensure the long-term maintenance of existing and future preserves.
1987 was significant for the foundation of the Business Advisory Committee, which provided a two-way channel of communication between area businesses and the Conservancy and encouraged formal participation by businesses in LTC's conservation efforts. Also in this year, the North Point Preservation Project began. This project's goal was to preserve twenty-eight acres of sand dunes and 2,800 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline in Charlevoix Township. In addition, Huffman retired from his leadership positions in all areas, except for his trusteeship and his chairmanship of the Building and Grounds Committee.
Huffman and his committee undertook a major office and grounds improvement project (his pet project; LTC's office building was later known as "the house that Huffy built") beginning in 1988. The Conservancy launched a new State-Local Government Cooperation program in order to help local units of government with the purchase and planning of land for public parks. It also started a scholarship program, named the Woodbury Ransom Memorial Scholarship in Environmental Studies, at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina. It was funded through the contribution of an LTC member.
In 1989 LTC started its well-received conservation easement program, which allows landowners to permanently designate parcels of land as natural areas without having to transfer ownership to the Conservancy. Also, Tom Bailey began developing a strategic plan for the Conservancy. The M-119 Scenic Protection Program started in 1990. Its goal was to preserve a border of natural scenery along the roadway. The need for the protection of other areas besides wetlands and forests was also becoming recognized at this time, and LTC started its Farmland Protection Program. In 1991, an addition to the office building (again spearheaded by Huffman) began and was completed over the next year. By 1992, LTC's twentieth anniversary year, staff consisted of seven full-time employees, and over 100 land preservation projects had been completed since the Conservancy's founding.
By 1995 LTC had become such a well-established and professional organization that it was able to serve a crucial role in helping to establish a new land conservancy, the Headlands Conservancy, near Mackinaw City. By this time LTC had become fully professional from within as well, with a comprehensive employee benefits policy and a revised personnel policy firmly in place, both spearheaded by Tom Bailey. In addition, Bailey encouraged staff development, both sponsoring staff training seminars and attending leadership conferences himself. Because of LTC's success, similar organizations began to look to LTC as a model and mentor.
A great blow was dealt to everyone at LTC, professionally and personally, when Horace Huffman died of a heart attack in late November of 1996. The Little Traverse Conservancy carried on, however, and maintains its emphasis on conservation through acquisition of land rather than legal confrontation or political maneuvering.
Among the most significant projects undertaken by the Little Traverse Conservancy were:
Thorne Swift Nature Preserve Project: The Thorne Swift Nature Preserve opened in May of 1983 on thirty acres of land donated by Elizabeth Kennedy. The land is held by LTC and leased to West Traverse Township, which shares management of the preserve with LTC. This is the most 'developed' of LTC's preserves, with board trails over swamps, an interpretive center, two naturalists on staff, and a resident manager. Primary motivations for the preserve were to provide public access to Lake Michigan (much of the lakefront being privately held) and to offer a place for the public to enjoy and learn about nature.
North Point Project: The drive to purchase this land ran from 1987 to 1989 and involved a successful campaign to save twenty-eight acres of sand dunes, along with 2,800 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline, and create a public preserve.
Colonial Point Forest Project: The Colonial Point Forest is a 283-acre stand of red oaks, some as old as 150 years, that was sold to sawmill operator James Devereaux in 1985. Devereaux, realizing the uniqueness of the forest, was actually somewhat reluctant to log it and was willing to sell it to LTC for $1.25 million, provided they could meet the necessary interest payments over a three-year period. LTC launched an extensive fundraising campaign and by 1987 the needed funds were obtained. The forest, once purchased by LTC, was then turned over to the University of Michigan Biological Station, which had been conducting research in the forest for over fifty years prior to its sale. The forest was also opened to the public as a nature preserve.
LTC Organizational Chart and Timeline
Executive Committee Chairperson Date Event 1972-1974 Frank Pierce 1975-1976 John Fischer 1977 Maynard Newton 1978-1979 John Tanton 1980-1981 John Fischer 1982-1984 Thomas Pinter 1985-1986 David Irish 1987-1988 John Hall 1989-1990 Marilyn Smith 1991-1992 John Fought 1993-1994 Richard Lent 1995 Joel Moore 1996-1997 Ken Winter Executive Director Date Event 1979 Kathy Bricker 1980-1981 Susanne Dye 1982-1984 Lou Borie 1985-1997 Tom Bailey Associate Director Date Event 1987-1997 Tom Lagerstrom
- Acquisition Information:
- The record group was received from Thomas C. Bailey of the Little Traverse Conservancy in February 2000. (Donor no. 8937 .) Additional records have been received.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Conservation easements -- Michigan, Northern.
Conservation leadership -- Michigan, Northern.
Conservation of natural resources -- Michigan, Northern.
Conservation projects (Natural resources) -- Michigan, Northern.
Conservationists -- Michigan, Northern.
Environmental protection -- Michigan, Northern.
Fund raising -- Michigan, Northern.
Landscape protection -- Michigan, Northern.
Natural areas -- Interpretive programs -- Michigan, Northern.
Natural areas -- Michigan, Northern.
Nature centers -- Michigan, Northern.
Nature conservation -- Michigan, Northern.
Conservation & restoration -- Michigan -- Harbor Springs.
Forest reserves -- Michigan.
Forests -- Michigan.
Landscape architecture drawings.
Digital file formats.
Emmet County Park and Recreation Commission.
Emmet County Solid Waste Planning Advisory Committee.
Little Traverse Conservancy.
Michigan. Natural Resources Commission.
Little Traverse Conservancy -- Buildings -- Michigan -- Harbor Springs.
Huffman, Horace M.
Colonial Point Forest (Mich.)
Emmet County (Mich.)
Isle Royale National Park (Mich.)
Little Traverse Bay Region (Mich.)
North Point Preserve (Mich.)
Thorne Swift Nature Preserve (Mich.)
Colonial Point Forest (Mich.)
Using These Materials
The record group, except for the papers of Thomas Bailey (boxes 5-11) is open for research. The Bailey papers require the written permission of the donor.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Copyright has not been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan. Copyright to the papers of Thomas C. Bailey, which compromise one series within the LTC records (boxes 5-11) is retained by Mr. Bailey. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.
- PREFERRED CITATION:
item, folder title, box no., Little Traverse Conservancy Records, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan