Wray Property Conserved by SWMLC and Ducks Unlimited Collaboration
In early December, 2015, the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC) completed the protection of the Wray Conservation Easement in Watson Township in eastern Allegan County. Gerald and Susan Wray conserved 80 acres of beautiful land that has been in Jerry’s family for three generations.
The Wrays had long been interested in protecting their homestead, and learned about SWMLC through Susan’s participation in “paint-outs” held by the Plein Air Artists of West Michigan at various SWMLC easements and preserves throughout southwest Michigan. Many of the resulting paintings from these outings are later featured in SWMLC’s annual calendar.
SWMLC partnered with Ducks Unlimited to secure grant funds from the Western Michigan Coastal Habitat Project, North American Wetland Conservation Act funds to pay for the necessary appraisal and stewardship costs that accompany conservation easements. Conservation easements are permanent deed restrictions that ensure a property will never be developed or subdivided, and guarantee that the landowners can continue to use the land the way they always have. In addition to providing a tax benefit, conservation easements can protect an important part of a family’s history and legacy into the future.
“We are thankful to Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy and to Ducks Unlimited for making our dream a reality,” expressed Susan Wray. “We are thrilled that this property will remain natural and undeveloped for many future generations to enjoy.”
The Wray conservation easement is predominantly high quality woodland made up of beech maple, and chinquapin oaks. The headwaters of School Section Brook flow from School Section Lake, wind through the Wray’s beautiful beech maple forest, and eventually into the Kalamazoo River.
“Conservation of the Wray property adds significantly to a vein of remaining Allegan County forest that includes a 200-acre conservation property owned by the Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of the Pottawatomi Tribe that is just 2 miles to the north,” stated SWMLC Conservation Projects Manager Emily Wilke. “This property provides valuable habitat for wildlife and helps protect the water quality of the Kalamazoo River.”
Susan and Jerry’s five children, who are scattered across the country in five different states, fully support their parents’ decision to protect a precious part of their family heritage through a conservation easement.
If you own a large property in southwest Michigan and you would like to see it conserved as it is today, see this page for more information, or contact us directly by email at Conserveland@swmlc.org or by calling our office at 269-324-1600.