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SG-W:/ CONSERVANCY LAND PURCHASE



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:  Jack Smiley, President
    Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy 
    (313) 582-8377; SmileySMLC@aol.com

CONSERVANCY ANNOUNCES MAJOR LAND ACQUISITION
Capital Campaign Goal of $590,000
    
In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Earth Day, the Southeast Michigan 
Land Conservancy has announced a major capital campaign to acquire 90 key 
acres of land in Superior Township, between the urban sprawl of Detroit and 
Ann Arbor.  The 90 acres to be purchased will be an addition to the LeFurge 
Woods Habitat Restoration Project, at the northeast corner of Prospect and 
Geddes Roads, just north of the City of Ypsilanti. 

The proposed addition will bring the total acreage at LeFurge Woods to over 
260 acres, making it one of the largest privately-purchased nature preserves 
in southeast Michigan.  The property will feature one mile of frontage along 
Prospect Road, and 1/2 mile of frontage along Geddes.

“Urban sprawl is quickly destroying our natural heritage, and it is important 
for citizens to band together to proactively protect land for the future,” 
stated Jack Smiley, President of the Conservancy.  Portions of the property 
to be purchased are forested wetlands, while other areas are currently in 
agricultural production.  “We intend to protect much of the present farm land 
for agricultural uses, but a good portion of it will be restored to wetland 
and prairie habitats”, said Smiley. 

Named after Isaac LeFurge, who owned much of the land in the mid-1800s, the 
LeFurge Woods area comprises one of the largest remaining tracts of 
contiguous forest between Detroit and Ann Arbor.  In 1924, Walpole’s “Flora 
of Washtenaw County” identified LeFurge Woods as one of the premier botanical 
sites in the region, with numerous wildflower species including blue cohosh, 
goldenseal and nodding trillium.

Rick Simek, Conservancy Vice President and Natural Areas Supervisor at the 
University of Michigan-Dearborn, notes that LeFurge Woods is a wonderful area 
where biological diversity is actually increasing due to the habitat 
restoration efforts.  “We’ve already identified over 80 bird species on site, 
and we’re finding many new species utilizing the recently restored wetland 
and field habitats”, said Simek.

Some of the species found at LeFurge Woods include mink, muskrat, deer, 
raccoons, skunk, weasels, red fox, and coyote.  Identified bird species 
include scarlet tanager, woodcock, upland sandpiper, great horned owl, indigo 
bunting, bluebird, blue winged teal, vesper sparrows, and trumpeter swans.

The Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy was formed in 1988 and serves the 
seven county southeast Michigan region.  This acquisition will bring to 1,500 
acres the total land protected by the Conservancy.  The Conservancy protects 
land by accepting donations of land, by holding conservation easements on 
properties kept in private ownership, and by purchasing land.  The 
Conservancy has three local divisions:  Superior Land Conservancy, Livingston 
Land Conservancy, and Monroe County Land Conservancy.  The Conservancy has 
over 500 members.

“This is our most ambitious project to date, and we’re counting on a 
groundswell of support from the public”, said Smiley.  “We’ve already 
received over $60,000 towards the purchase price, so we’re off to a good 
start.  We just hope that other interested individuals and corporations will 
view this as a tremendous investment opportunity.”  

The Conservancy is also trying to generate awareness and support from the 
younger generation.  Recently, 29 students from Willow Run High School toured 
the LeFurge Woods site.  The students have since initiated the first “Cans 
for Conservation” drive which will assist in the acquisition of the new 
property.  Students will collect deposit cans for recycling, with the 
proceeds being used to help protect their local environment.  “Since the land 
will cost 15 cents per square foot, students can play a direct role in 
protecting this important landscape” stated Philip Smith, Director of 
Development for the Conservancy.  Other schools interested in implementing a 
“Cans for Conservation” program can contact Phil Smith at the Conservancy’s 
Ann Arbor office:  (734) 997-0942.

The history of Earth Day has shown that, working together, people can make a 
difference.  Although there has been significant progress in a number of 
areas, habitat destruction continues at an alarming rate.   “Urban sprawl has 
to stop somewhere”, said Smiley “and this is a good place to start”.  

To help protect LeFurge Woods in perpetuity, tax-deductible donations may be 
sent to:
Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy
6410 St. Mary’s, Detroit, MI  48228
Phone:  (313) 582-8377

$15.00 protects 100 sq. ft.
$37.50 protects 250 sq. ft.
$75.00 protects 500 sq. ft.
$150.00 protects 1,000 sq. ft.
$450.00 protects 3,000 sq. ft.
$750.00 protects 5,000 sq. ft.
$1,500.00 protects 10,000 sq. ft.


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