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June, 2009

Announcing Heart of the Lakes 2009 Fifth Annual Summit

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

rachelglendeb.jpgJoin us for the premier gathering of Michigan’s land conservancies at our Fifth Annual Summit which will be held Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at the Lansing Center. In addition to workshops for conservancies and state and federal policy updates, the Summit will also feature a legislative luncheon and networking reception. A keynote address will be given by Tracy Mehan III, former director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes and assistant administrator for water at the Environmental Protection Agency.

At the  2008 Summit, Heart of the Lakes Executive Director Rachel Kuntzsch, and Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy Executive Director Glen Chown awarded Sen. Stabenow for her leadership on the Farm Bill.


Policy Update

Our Current Policy Focus

Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF)

Passage of SB 322 (McManus, R-Leland): MNRTF appropriations bill for 2008 projects was signed into law by Governor Granholm on May 7, bringing a $48.5 million infusion into Michigan’s economy via 37 land acquisition projects and 44 development projects. Heart of the Lakes provided testimony in support of the swift passage of the bill and was in contact with our policymakers throughout the process. Learn more

HB 4204 (Calley, R- Portland) and House Joint Resolution H (Sheltrown, D - West Branch): Proposed modifications to the MNRTF to divert a portion of the fund from its constitutionally protected purpose of acquisition and development of lands to land management and development, including fish stocking and habitat management. While Heart of the Lakes supports the need for long-term, stable funding for the DNR, we believe the MNRTF is not the source from which these operational funds should be sought. Introduced in February and referred to the House Committee on Tourism, Outdoor Recreation and Natural Resources. Learn more


HB 4158, introduced by Rep. Mayes (D - Bay City), would allow capture of a portion of $12.8 million in property liens owed the state through PA 116 non-renewals to fund permanent farmland preservation. Landowners who choose not to renew their PA 116 agreements are required to pay back the previous seven years of tax benefits. Currently there is no interest penalty to encourage the payback, and thus millions of dollars in liens have accumulated. This bill would provide interest penalties on agreements going forward and offer a discount on existing liens for a brief period to encourage payback. These funds go to the Michigan Agriculture Preservation Fund to support permanent farmland preservation. Heart of the Lakes has collaborated with Michigan Department of Agriculture, Michigan Farm Bureau, and Rep. Mayes to suggest changes for strengthening the bill, and is meeting with Committee members in both the House and Senate. The bill is expected to be before the House Agriculture Committee soon. Learn more

Other State Conservation Policy Updates


HB 4887, introduced by Rep. Mayes (D – Bay City) would allow a variety of renewable energy systems (e.g., biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, landfill gas, and other systems that generate electricity – not including an incinerator) to qualify as a “permitted use” of farmland covered by an easement or agreement designed to preserve it as farmland or open space.  Learn more

A package of bills (SB 599 - 603) was introduced in the state Senate on May 20 dealing with forestry management and referred to the Senate Agriculture and Bioeconomy Committee. Heart of the Lakes is looking into this package of bills and implications for land conservation. Learn more

State Parks

Legislation to support Michigan State Parks was introduced in March to provide for a State park and State-operated public boating access site recreation passport that a Michigan resident could obtain by paying an additional fee when registering a motor vehicle. The proposed fee is $5 for motorcycles and $10 for all other vehicles (excluding commercial motor vehicles) with residents having the choice to opt out. Senate bills (SB 388 and SB 389) and House bills (HB 4677 and HB 4678) have been reported out of the Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee and House Great Lakes and Environment Committee, respectively, but have not yet been taken up by the full Senate or House.


HB 4610 (Moore  R- Farwell) proposes a right for citizens to ride horses on trails designated for pack and saddle animals on all state owned land where there is a historical tradition of this use.  Specific focus of attention is being paid to accessibility on Pigeon River Country trails. The bill was introduced in March and referred out of the House Committee on Tourism, Outdoor Recreation and Natural Resources on May 5. Learn more

Federal Conservation Policy News

HR 1831: Conservation Easement Incentive Act. Legislation to make the enhanced federal tax deduction for qualified conservation easements permanent - incentives that are important for landowners to protect significant natural and working lands but are set to expire December 31, 2009. Spearheaded by the Land Trust Alliance and supported by Heart of the Lakes, the goal is to gain a majority in the U.S. House by securing 218 cosponsors.  To date, five of 15 Michigan representatives have signed on (Ehlers-R, Dingell-D, McCotter-R, Schauer-D, and Kildee-D). Learn more 


Conservancies in the News


Gina Render was appointed Executive Director of the Headwaters Land Conservancy in late 2008. Peter Homeyer was officially named Executive Director of the Land Conservancy of West Michigan in March of this year. Congratulations to them both for their new leadership roles!

The Legacy Land Conservancy (formerly Washtenaw Land Trust) launched it’s new name and look in March.  The name reflects a broader mission and geographical reach beyond the boundaries of Washtenaw County. Learn more

Employment Opportunities

The Legacy Land Conservancy is seeking a part-time administrator. Learn more


Events and Training

Advancing Conservancy Excellence
Friday, July 10, 2009, 10:00 - 11:00 am
Ask An Attorney Conference Call featuring Dan Cline of Cline Close Dyer, PLC. "Legal Issues for Nonprofits" will give land conservancy callers a chance to ask their most pressing legal questions about operating as a nonprofit in Michigan. (no charge) Register here.

Land Trust Alliance
July 21, 2009, 9:30am - 5:00pm
Determining Stewardship Costs & Raising and Managing Dedicated Funds (Maumee Bay State Park, Toledo, Ohio--$75 per person for Land Trust Alliance members)                                                                                                   

Land Trust Alliance (On-Line)
July 8, 2009, 3:00 pm                                                                                                                      
Demystifying the Farm Bill--Tapping into the Nation's Largest Source of Conservation Funding ($50 per connection)

July 16, 12:00 pm
Demystifying the Accreditation Process (no charge)
July 25, 3:00 pm 
Demystifying the Accreditation Process (no charge)

 Other Training Opportunities: Board Connect, Michigan Nonprofit Association


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Heart of the Lakes Center for Land Conservation Policy

300 N. Bridge Street, Grand Ledge, MI 48837  |  517.925.8649  |

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