Nonprofit hopes to protect Lake Bluff for future generations

The Michigan Audubon Society is seeking a qualifying 501(c)(3) organization to sell or transfer ownership of the home and adjacent horse barn/stables that sit at the Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary. (News Advocate file photo)

The Michigan Audubon Society is seeking a qualifying 501(c)(3) organization to sell or transfer ownership of the home and adjacent horse barn/stables that sit at the Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary. (News Advocate file photo)

MANISTEE — A new nonprofit has been formed with the purpose of protecting the buildings and natural setting at Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary.

The former farm property was donated to the Michigan Audubon Society in late 1987.

In October of 2016, the Michigan Audubon Society effectively closed the property’s facilities for repairs, clean-up and preparation for the next phase of the property’s management.

In June, the Michigan Audubon Society put out a request for proposals — with a deadline of Aug. 15 — in northwest Michigan to identify a local qualifying organization that would utilize the home, horse barn and immediate grounds, which totals less than five acres.

Heather Barker delivers letters of support from members of the Lighthouse Realty Team to Lake Bluff Farms board members Bill Zielinski and Gloria Savory. The new nonprofit has submitted a proposal to the Michigan Audubon Society. (Courtesy photo)

Heather Barker delivers letters of support from members of the Lighthouse Realty Team to Lake Bluff Farms board members Bill Zielinski and Gloria Savory. The new nonprofit has submitted a proposal to the Michigan Audubon Society. (Courtesy photo)

“A lot of work has been accomplished in a short amount of time,” said Gloria Savory, secretary of the Lake Bluff Farms Board of Directors.

Lake Bluff Farms was created to answer the RFP; the purpose of the 501(c)3 is “the preservation, protection, education, enhancement and maintenance of the wild habitats immediately surrounding the Lake Bluff homestead as well as the preservation and up-keep of the current buildings and appurtenances.”

A board of directors has been formed, documents have been applied for and a proposal is being sent to the Michigan Audubon Society.

The group’s vision is: “Because the hallmark of Lake Bluff is protecting the flora, fauna and inherent history not just for today, but for all future generations, Lake Bluff Farms will place a concentration upon preservation, education, protection and upkeep of the homestead and immediate surrounding areas.”

The 75-acre bird sanctuary portion of the property will have a conservation easement placed on it and will be owned and managed by a conservation organization to ensure ecological integrity in perpetuity.

As an organization with a statewide focus on bird conservation, the Michigan Audubon Society has stated it does not have the capacity to maintain the house and operate a business onsite that is suitable to the Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary manor, such as a bed and breakfast, office building and event venue.

Lake Bluff Farms board members have been talking with local advocates of Lake Bluff, as well as others who have visited, stayed in the bed and breakfast, attended a wedding on the grounds, watched birds on the grounds or were astounded by the Giant Sequoia on the property.

“You can’t spend an hour at Lake Bluff without meeting visitors who reminisce about the house, the grounds, the farms, the horses or the Gray family,” said Savory. “There are so many people in this community who support protecting the buildings and the grounds so that it can be enjoyed for many generations to come. It is because of this that the nonprofit was formed.”

The group believes that these stories would not exist if the house and grounds were not protected.

Lake Bluff Farms asked for letters of support to be included in the proposal to Michigan Audubon; letters can be signed at TJ’s Pub located at 399 River Street.

For more information about Lake Bluff Farms, email info@lakeblufffarms.com.

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