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SW Michigan Land Conservancy Receives Land Trust Excellence Award

October 3, 2010 | Washington, DC
SW Michigan Land Conservancy Receives Land Trust Excellence Award

(L-R) Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy board members Alfred J. Gemrich and Dave Coleman, and Pete Ter Louw, executive director, receive the National Land Trust Excellence award from Rand Wentworth, on behalf of the Conservancy at Rally.


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Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy
Receives National Land Trust Excellence Award


WASHINGTON, DC – Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC) has been presented with a national conservation award for its pioneering work in the land trust field in developing and implementing conservation management plans for important natural areas and setting the example for effective collaboration in conservation.

The SWMLC was selected by The Land Trust Alliance of Washington, DC, from more than 1,700 land trusts across the country, to receive its National Land Trust Excellence Award, which was presented at Rally: The National Land Conservation Conference in Hartford, Connecticut, on October 3, 2010.

SWMLC’s Stewardship staff members are recognized as both regional and national leaders in conservation management. They have developed partnerships with organizations such as the Stewardship Network, Natural Areas Association (NAA), and Defenders of Wildlife to provide workshops and seminars across the country. They have been sought after to share their expertise at numerous conferences and training events for the Land Trust Alliance, Center for Collaborative Conservation, Stewardship Network, NAA, Heart of the Lakes Center for Land Conservation Policy, and several other conservation organizations.

“Our long-term viability, and our ability to create meaningful work in perpetuity, whether it’s scenic or cultural or protecting natural landscapes, is only going to be effective if we become part of this broader community’s fabric,” said SWMLC Executive Director Pete Ter Louw, who accepted the award for the Conservancy.

SWMLC created an innovative model for prioritization that incorporates broad stakeholder involvement and geographic information systems analysis to identify areas with critical conservation values for protection and management. The long list of stakeholders involved in these projects include federal agencies, state agencies, county officials, conservation districts, township and city officials, community foundations, private conservation organizations, universities, nature centers, community leaders, and private landowners.

The Land Trust Alliance recognized the success of this model and provided SWMLC a Strategic Conservation Planning grant to use to prioritize conservation actions in and around the 25,000-acre Barry State Game Area. Implementation of the resulting plan began immediately as a private family foundation, engaged in the planning process, stepped forward to make its core mission be the protection and restoration of priority lands. The same family foundation, the USFWS, MDNRE, Ducks Unlimited, and SWMLC have begun a long-term relationship coordinating restoration management between adjacent but separately held parcels in the same region. These partners also brought together several additional conservation organizations to receive a $1 million North American Wetland Conservation Act grant.

Rand Wentworth, President of the Land Trust Alliance, said in bestowing the award that “As a direct result of their willingness to seek out regional expertise, intergovernmental cooperation, and coordination with all of the regional members and the neighbors, the SWMLC has been able to make incredible conservation happen.”  He added, “Together with fellow consevationists, the members of the SWMLC have found an effective way to preserve the quality of life and unique character of their community — now and forever."

About The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC)
SWMLC was founded in 1991 to protect the wild and scenic areas in the nine counties of southwest
Michigan. The 3.5 million acre service area, covering an expanse the size of Connecticut, is a crossroads of ecological regions. Eastern deciduous forests meet the Midwest prairies while southern mesic woodlands border northern coniferous forests and bogs. Large river systems wind throughout the countryside on their way to Lake Michigan and the largest freshwater dunes in the world. It is home to rural farms, urban centers, Great Lakes shoreline destinations, and Michigan’s largest State Game Areas – all within a short drive from Chicago, Indianapolis, and Detroit. Visit

About The Land Trust Alliance
The Alliance is a national conservation organization that works in three ways to save the places people love.  First, we increase the pace of conservation, so more land and natural resources get protected.  Second, we enhance the quality of conservation, so the most important lands get protected using the best practices in the business. And third, we ensure the permanence of conservation by creating the laws and resources needed to defend protected land over time. The Land Trust Alliance is based in Washington, D.C., and has several regional offices.  Visit

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