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Land Conservancy honors trailblazers

Trailblazer honorees are, from left, Derrick Fries, Katie Fries, Kay Robertson, Thomas Hall II, Loraine Hall, Tom Hall, Sherrie Hall, Joanne Inskeep, Bob Inskeep, Thomas Pytel, Mel Vaara, Jerry Fisher, Elizabeth Wagner, and Thomas Stone. (click for larger version)
October 10, 2012 - For 40 years, individuals all over Oakland County have led efforts to preserve land in Michigan for future generations. This year, the North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservancy (NOHLC) celebrated their 40-year anniversary and honored 17 trailblazers.

Each honoree received a plaque in recognition of their work with the non-profit organization. Independence Township resident Bob Inskeep, who was president of the land conservancy for four years, considers himself a second-generation trailblazer.

"I was fortunate enough to be involved at a time when we brought hundreds of acres of land under conservation easement," said Inskeep.

The land conservancy works with landowners interested in preserving their acres in perpetuity.

"We're not making any more land," said Inskeep. "All over the globe it's disappearing and the unique flora and fauna are worthy of protection," he added.

Trailblazer James Reed of Independence Township agrees.

"We can't develop and pave everything," said Reed, who served as a land inspector in the NOHLC and was president for three years.

He points out some of the unique habitats for wildlife and plants under the NOHLC's protection aren't available anywhere else, which is why the organization hopes to "preserve jewels we'd like to see protected forever," Reed said.

Over the years, the NOHLC has acquired many unique landscapes such as the Nels Kimball Sanctuary.

"Land preservation takes time," said Inskeep. Building relationships and trust with landowners isn't always easy, and over the years Inskeep witnessed many of "those sometimes complicated arrangements become a reality," he explained. "After 40 years, the conservancy has proven it's a trusted partner in North Oakland County."

Just as the NOHLC preserves land for future generations to enjoy, its members pass the value of protecting the environment along to children. Inskeep's son is now involved in the conservancy.

"It's rewarding to see that he's grown up with the values I have," Inskeep said.

The NOHLC has had many trailblazers such as Tom Stone and Tom Bullen who were "the most instrumental in the launch and growth of the conservancy," said Reed.

To date, the NOHLC's trailblazing has resulted in the conservation of 1,427 acres across six townships and two counties, and the NOHLC isn't slowing down.

In fact, Reed said they have an upcoming project in mind to extend the trails in the Nels Kimball preserve by building a bridge across the Clinton River. They are also in the process of bringing historic Camp Wathana in Rose Township under easement.

"There's still a lot more to do in the next forty years," said Inskeep.

To find out more about the NOHLC visit www.nohlc.org.

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