Friday, July 19, 2024

Governments buying Islands

USA: The Nature Conservancy Completes the Purchase of Michigan’s St Martin Island

One of the last, large, undeveloped islands in Michigan’s Grand Traverse Archipelago is now in public hands, as The Nature Conservancy finally completes the purchase of St. Martin Island.

St Martin Island, Michigan - Photo Courtesy of

St Martin Island, Michigan – Photo Courtesy of

The Nature Conservancy has at last completed the purchase of St Martin Island, an approximately 1,280 acre island in the U.S. State of Michigan. The purchase for the last privately held piece of the island – a 36 acre forest-land plot towards the western side of the island – was completed by Nature Conservancy officials at the turn of the year. What a way to start 2015!

Located just off the tip of the Door County peninsula in northern Lake Michigan, St Martin Island has long since been a target of The Nature Conservancy due to its ornithological importance. According to local conservation ecologist Mike Grimm, the island is a sanctuary for migratory birds, a “dynamic place” which teems with life. He explained that the conservancy’s ownership is critical in protecting a vital feeding and resting place for a vast array of birdlife.

The Fred Luber family of Milwaukee and Sister Bay had previously agreed to sell the initial 1,244 acres of St Martin Island in November 2013 for the knock-down rate of USD 1.5 million, as JS Online reports. According to Mary Jean Huston, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin, this amounted to just 35% of the island’s appraisal value and was made possible by both the owner’s appreciation of the island’s natural beauty and his desire to preserve it.

Mr Luber’s daughter explained: “My family and I considered the future of St. Martin for many years. The more we learned about the island, the more we felt it deserved long-term conservation.” Abandoning plans for development in favor of guaranteeing the long-term future of what has since transpired to be one of the last large undeveloped islands in the region, the family didn’t hesitate to contact the Nature Conservancy and begin the preservation process.

The final piece of St. Martin Island puzzle finally slotted into place towards the end of December 2014, with the acquisition of a 36 acre piece of woodland located on the western side of the remote island. The Nature Conservancy’s long-term campaign of persuasion finally paid off, when its owner, the president of Uihlein-Wilson Architects of Milwaukee finally agreed not just to sell his land, but also to make a generous donation to the Conservancy, too.

After inheriting the island from his father several years ago, St. Martin’s former owner David Uihlein Jr. explained to “I only visited the island once, but it’s a trip I will remember for a lifetime. It is important that the island have a good steward, and The Nature Conservancy does great work in Wisconsin and throughout the United States to protect important lands like St. Martin Island.”

The purchase of the final lot was made possible by a generous donation from a local resident, Thora Vevoren, whose childhood vacations on the islands of Door County obviously left a considerable impression. The Nature Conservancy’s gratitude was equally apparent. “Conserving a special place like St. Martin Island is only possible when people like David and Thora care enough to take action,” explained the Director of the Conservancy’s Wisconsin branch.

Explaining the Conservancy’s long-term plans to transfer the ownership of the island to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ms. Huston continued: “We are grateful that they chose to work with The Nature Conservancy to ensure that St. Martin Island will always be a refuge for birds and other migrants as they travel through the Great Lakes.” The island is initially expected to stay closed to public visitation in order to guarantee the protection of its avian population.

Have Your Say:

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