SPRINGS OF THE PORT, MICH. – A large piece of land that once housed a northern Michigan golf course has now grown into one of the area’s newest public nature reserves.
Harbor Springs-based nonprofit Little Traverse Conservancy purchased the land including the former Little Traverse Bay Golf Club for $ 2 million on April 22 – Earth Day – with the aim of transform into a natural space for the enjoyment of the public.
Just over two months later, the 280-acre Offield Family Viewlands is now open, welcoming people to hike, bike, bird watch and enjoy other non-motorized activities. The glacier-carved terrain includes rolling hills with spectacular water views, including Little Traverse Bay and parts of the 40-mile Inland Waterway.
Hints of the ancient life of the land remain: The park’s nearly eight kilometers of trails follow old golf cart paths, skirting old golf greens now converted to native grasslands. Buildings that once belonged to the golf course, including the clubhouse and restaurant, are on lockdown for now, while conservation assesses future plans for them.
The name of the reserve is a nod to the Offield Family Foundation, which awarded a grant to help the Little Traverse Conservancy purchase the property. So far, the conservation has raised over $ 1.6 million for the $ 2 million loan used to purchase the land.
“The beauty of a protected area like this is that it is literally open to anyone, at no cost,” said Anne Fleming, director of communications at the conservatory. “Very often places with views like this are inaccessible to the general public unless a user fee is paid. The generous donors who made the protection of this land possible have literally given a gift to anyone who wants to enjoy it.
The Offield Family Viewlands is located at 995 Hideaway Valley Drive, Harbor Springs. More information about the nature reserve and conservation’s ongoing fundraising efforts can be found at landtrust.org/OffieldFamilyViewlands.
New secure waterfront nature reserve near Good Harbor Bay on Lake Michigan