Shepherding the Land to the Next Generation
Protecting Land in Charlevoix County
Bruce Janssen has been a familiar face to the Little Traverse Conservancy in Michigan for many years. As owner of The Wood Shop in Boyne City, Bruce has been the artistic force and creator of Little Traverse Conservancy’s beautiful nature preserve signs that are dotting the landscape around northern Michigan.
Bruce and his wife Jodie — a wildlife biologist and artist — have been concerned with protecting the natural world for many years. Since the 1970s, the couple have been actively involved with preserving open space in their own township of Evangeline. Jodie was one of the founders of Boyne City’s Main Street Program which has helped revitalize and beautify the city, and she currently works as the Executive Director of the Charlevoix County Humane Society.
Since purchasing their land in 1974, Bruce and Jodie have grown to deeply love it, exploring on a daily basis with their Corgies and Border Collie. “Truly, dog ownership goes hand in hand with learning to love your land,” Bruce said. One day, Jodie was thrilled to discover Upland sandpipers during their walk. “They travel all the way up from Tierra del Fuego to get here and they are nesting in our field!” she said.
Preserving a Finite Resource
So to this couple, it was natural to take permanent steps that would ensure the land would always remain undeveloped. As a result, the Janssens have teamed up with Bruce’s dad, Ed, to donate conservation easements that will protect a total of 55 adjacent acres. The land consists of beautiful rolling Charlevoix County land that lies on the outer edges of the Walloon Lake Watershed.
“Ownership of land is not the same as ownership of a car,” said Bruce explaining his personal land ethic. “I believe we should be shepherding the land to the next generation...and the next generation.” Jodie adds that she is comforted to know that the land will remain natural for both future human and animal generations.
“I think that we take a lot for granted with our land because we don’t take the time to become informed about it,” said Bruce. “When it comes down to it, most of us can have what we want with our own land while at the same time put things into place that will ensure it remains natural.”
A pleasant surprise to the Janssens during the easement process was to discover that a relatively new tax law passed in late 2006 allows for property taxes to remain capped on lands protected with a conservation easement. “People need to understand how important this is when considering land that they want to pass on to others in their family,” Bruce said.
Photo courtesy of Bruce Janssen
Since 1972, the Little Traverse Conservancy has been working as the oldest regional, non-profit land trust in Michigan. With the support of more than 4,100 members, the Little Traverse Conservancy works with private landowners and units of local government to permanently protect ecologically significant and scenic lands from development. Since it was founded, nearly 36,000 acres and 98 miles of shoreline along our region’s lakes, rivers, and streams have been set aside to remain in their natural state within Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Mackinac, and Chippewa counties.