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Keeping a Forest Good: One Family's Commitment to Trees & Tradition

MI - Bourke Lodewyk admits that he thoroughly enjoys caring for the forest of his family’s large Maple River Township property. “I’m a firm believer that a forest should be properly managed...and should be used,” Bourke said.
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Keeping a Forest Good: One Family's Commitment to Trees & Tradition

When Bourke Lodewyk leaves his Gladwin County home for Emmet County, his wife Shirley tells people “Bourke is going north to count his trees.” The 80-year old retiree who majored in biology at Michigan State University admits that he thoroughly enjoys caring for the forest of his family’s large Maple River Township property. “I’m a firm believer that a forest should be properly managed...and should be used,” Bourke said.

The Lodewyk property was first purchased in the 1960s by Bourke’s parents and it quickly became a family destination for recreation, especially for Bourke. Over the years, he would bring his boys, his friends, and later grandchildren north for deer camp, at which time “everything else stops,” according to Bourke.

His deep love of the woods led Bourke to become involved with the Conservation Resource Alliance’s Wild Links program which assists volunteer land owners in managing private-property corridors used by wildlife for travel. The program helps landowners write a five to ten-year voluntary program for developing or modifying land use in order to keep wildlife corridors open for animal movement. The Lodewyk property was identified through a special initiative in the Maple River Watershed Corridor. From this work, Bourke also began working with local forester, Keith Martell, who helped him implement healthy strategies for the woods.

Bourke Lodewyk and granddaughter KendraWhen Bourke and his siblings began to discuss future plans for the land, they researched their possibilities and were told about conservation easements. “I wanted something that would ensure that in 75 years, this land looks much like it does today,” Bourke said. After consulting with the Little Traverse Conservancy and researching more about the organization, he became convinced that this was the best possible option for the land. Last fall, the Lodewyk family donated a conservation easement that will permanently protect 219 acres.

Though some live quite far away, all four of his children and their families enjoy the land when they can, and his three sons now jointly own a family cabin on the Maple River. “My wife and children are in full support of this conservation easement,” Bourke said.

“Friends have asked why my father prefers to plant oaks since, by the time the trees mature, he will no longer be here to enjoy them,” said Wade Lodewyk, Bourke’s son.

“I tell them it is because my dad is a man of vision. The trees he plants now are for future generations to enjoy, just as the trees he planted 40 years ago and since then, are now maturing for me and my siblings and our children to enjoy.”

Photo at top of the Lodewyk property, courtesy of Little Traverse Conservancy 

Photo of Bourke Lodewyk, shown with his granddaughter, Kendra, planting trees at his large Emmet County property that he recently protected from future development through the Little Traverse Conservancy. Photo by Wade Lodewyk

March 11, 2009

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