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Photo by Chris Redmond

ISSUE 3, 2013


Saving Land in Northeast Michigan


By Emily Cook, Land Protection Specialist

t’s hard to believe another season has nearly passed but as we begin the transition into fall, it allows us to reflect on this year’s completed land protection projects as well as those still in progress. Through collaborations with neighboring conservation groups like Huron Pines and continued outreach to northeast Michigan landowners, the amount of land and water protected under easements continues to grow.

The Billmire family is featured in this issue because of their passion to protect the land they own in Ogemaw County. Soon, the completion of their second easement will contribute an additional eighty acres of land and 2,800 feet of lake frontage to HeadWaters’ total protected area. This new property shares boundaries with the existing Billmire easement, placed in 2003, as well as the Huron National Forest.

This summer we made several improvements to the Sturgeon River Preserve, the largest being a parking turnout which allows for safer access to the trails. The Otsego County Road Commission generously donated their time and supplies to this project and the difference is incredible! Also, a splitrail fence was installed at the trail head to encourage public use and to protect wetlands near the river.

HWLC will hit another milestone this year as we complete our first agricultural easement on the Gardner Farm, located in Roscommon County. Landowner Steve Gardner practices sustainable pasture rotation to operate his small-scale cattle operation – located on 240 acres. Lush fields combined with proper agro-foresty techniques provide for a unique set of conservation values. Additionally, we are pleased to

Emily Cook exploring Alligator Hill Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes announce that this entire project was funded by the Americana Foundation. $17,419.00 was awarded to HWLC for easement costs and continued stewardship! As always, the completion of these projects would be unattainable without assistance from our dedicated group of Land Protection Volunteers. Their valuable time is spent in the field completing site visits, monitoring easements, and participating in monthly Land’s Committee meetings. We are truly grateful for their invaluable assistance to HeadWaters Land Conservancy.

Headwaters Land Conservancy

An Interview with...

Conservation Easement Donor Bill Demmer By Laura Justin, Executive Director Riding across the rugged and beautiful terrain of Big Creek Lodge, I had the pleasure of learning about a special man and a beloved place. My host was Bill Demmer, conservation easement donor two times over with his own property and in partnership with his cohorts Rex Schlaybaugh, Jake Shinners and Gary Richards. The conversation was kinetic and dynamic, matching the personality of a man who has a hundred irons in the fire at any given time. I was visiting the Demmer property and Big Creek Lodge for the first time to find out about a program known as MSU’s Fly Gals that has been an annual event for about seven years. Fly Gals came into existence with an idea that was sparked on the porch of Big Creek Lodge, helped along with one of Glen Eberly’s bottles of Pinot Noir. Bill Demmer was talking to then MSU Chair of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Dr. Bill Taylor, when an epiphany occurred. Dr. Taylor was struck by the realization that the majority of his undergraduate, graduate and PhD students were women. Most of these women had never been exposed to the delights of Michigan’s cold water streams. What an opportunity for them to experience fly fishing in waters that many of them might be either managing or creating policy around in the future? Bill Taylor contacted his close friend and expert fly casting instructor, Tom Sadler of Washington DC, who leaped at the chance. The MSU Fly Gals was born.

The MSU Fly Gals gather for three days each spring at the Big Creek Lodge. The event begins with 9 to 15 female MSU undergrads, masters, PhD students, some professors and usually a couple of special guests. Former guests have included Rebecca Humphries and USF&G Executives. The “Opening” night begins with cocktails, wine and hors d’oeuvres followed by the call of the dinner bell, rung by the land’s keeper, Bruce Jenkins. Bruce’s wife Jenny, a gourmet chef, has prepared a sumptuous meal fit for royalty! This is followed by cigars and scotch on the porch overlooking the creek. From then on, it is learning about casting, fly tying and technique. Second year participants enjoy a wonderful float on the north branch of the Au Sable and have the opportunity to become instructors for the next year’s gathering. Demmer believes the Fly Gals have made a difference based on the comments he has received over the years and the level of participation in the program. He also said, “the energy generated by these women on opening night rivals any trout opener I have ever been involved with”. It is obvious that he is pleased to share Big Creek Lodge with the women, and he takes great pride in the program. This is just one way that Bill Demmer tries to leave a legacy for conservation. He is also the president of Boone & Crocket, and along with Jake Shinners, sponsored an MSU Chair in the Fisheries and Wildlife Department. His passion for Boone & Crocket is evident as he discusses the club and its positive effect on policy and legislation such as the Pittman-Robinson Act, the Lacey Act and the formation of the Forest Service. Demmer is especially fond of quoting Aldo Leopold, a member of Boone & Crocket and a force within the early conservation movement, along with another famous member, Teddy Roosevelt.

Demmer feels that land conservancies such as HeadWaters play a critical role in natural resource conservation and preservation by limiting parcelization. “Land fragmentation is one of the greatest threats to North American wildlife habitat. Placing a conservation easement on your land is a wonderful way to support wildlife by inhibiting such fragmentation.”

ISSUE 3, 2013

Grant Helps HWLC make

Land more Accessible for the Community The Land Trust Alliance and the Heart of the Lakes Center for Land Conservation Policy awarded a grant of $3,000 to HWLC through the Advancing Conservancy Excellence (ACE) Program. The grant was to assist HWLC in critical areas of need. The grant enabled HWLC to manage activities and community outreach activities on the Sturgeon River Preserve (SRP) in order to make the land more accessible for the community. As a result HWLC was able to: • Host a “Roast & Toast” celebration introducing the community to the new SRP while honoring volunteers for their work • Remove a hazardous bridge through a partnership with Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited • Purchase and place trail and boundary signage • Host six outreach activities that educated and engaged the community about the SRP (Geocache Adventure, Nature Themed Scavenger Hunt, Spring Wildflower Hike, Sturgeon Moon Hike, Macro- Invertabrate Study for the Public, SRP Coloring Book Workshop, etc.) • Install a parking area and split rail fence for guests of the SRP We would like to thank the Land Trust Alliance and the Heart of the Lakes Center for Land Conservation Policy for the special opportunity and for providing the funds we needed to make these projects happen!

Headwaters Land Conservancy

The Accidental Conservationists 


ost of the folks we work with spend months and even years contemplating the donation of a conservation easement on their land. They wrestle with family concerns, worry about land values and hope to keep the place they love in a natural and protected state. Then you meet a couple like David and Elaine Billmire. The Billmire’s loved visiting northwest Michigan to escape the sweltering heat of summer in their native Cincinnati. As their children became young adults, they decided it might be time to find a retirement home “up north”. Their search seemed to go on forever and the sticker shock of lake homes in places like Charlevoix and Traverse City was prohibitive. Not giving up, they subscribed to Traverse Magazine and hoped something just-right-for-them would be found in the real estate section. Well, they did find something but it was not in northwest Michigan. Instead, they were driving thru an April snowstorm, up a winding, muddy road in Ogemaw County. The ad in the magazine that had lured them to this spot said “Do Well by Doing Good”. The “Good” in that statement was referring to the conservation easement already on the land, and it intrigued the Billmire’s who were not familiar with this type of land preservation. Putting aside the bad weather and driving conditions, David and Elaine fell in love with the land that day and they became HeadWaters partner in conservation. Eleven years later the Billmire’s have the chance to be the ones placing a conservation easement on a new piece of land adjacent to their existing CE. They contacted the HWLC office before the sale was even finalized to start the process and have us see the 80 additional acres of land they wanted to protect. It is adjacent to state land, expands wildlife

By Laura Justin, Executive Director corridors and protects a small lake from development which will now be within the 160 total acres. The Billmire’s have also been generous financial supporters and attend events whenever they are in the area. David will be venturing into retirement soon and hopes to become even more actively involved with us and pursue his love of photography. David and Elaine are not hunters or fishermen. They don’t snowmobile or use a four wheeler. When you ask the Billmire’s why they love their land so much, considering it is worlds away from the resort town homes they had searched for on the west side of the state, the answers are simple and straightforward. “This place helps us to feel like time is slowing down. We don’t have to DO anything to feel like there is so much happening all around us. Just look out the windows, sit on the deck or take a walk around the property,” Elaine said. The Billmire’s are frequently visited by swans, loons, blue heron, bald eagles, ruffed grouse, fox, otters, bobcats and the occasional bear. These are things they never could have experienced had they found a place on the other shore of northern Michigan. I asked the Billmire’s what their favorite season was to spend at their property and they had a hard time answering because they love them all. Surprisingly, winter was the time they spoke of most fondly. “We build a fire, bundle up with blankets and just relax. When you go outside after a fresh snowfall, you see the tracks of all the animals who had been exploring,” David said. “This place is like therapy. I remember other people saying they would have bought this property if they could have broken it up and all I could think was why mess with it? The conservation easement guarantees that won’t happen and we are glad it was on the land when we got it.”

ISSUE 3, 2013


United Way Partners with HWLC

for a Day of Caring By Kristy Mortham, Development & Outreach Coordinator


eadWaters Land Conservancy (HWLC) partnered with the Otsego County United Way during their “Day of Caring”. Day of Caring is the nation’s largest corporate volunteer event and it helps change the community we live in. The goals of the Day of Caring are: involve employees and volunteers with local area charities, raise awareness of community needs and services, allow contributors to see where their money goes, and provide employees a great opportunity to know each other outside of the workplace. HWLC submitted a project proposal that would better our organization by cleaning up the outside building’s debris (it was a mess). Volunteers from the United Way pulled weeds and trees, and created a beautiful open garden space for the Conservancy. The project took an hour and a half with support from 10 volunteers. Tools were donated to us for the day from HWLC supporter’s Mike Mang and Steve Qua. A vehicle with a trailer was donated for the day from HWLC supporter Jacque Logreco. Most importantly, a local construction company, Integrity Construction allowed us to dispose of the trash that was found alongside the building. It was a great day for living united and for the Conservancy. Thank you… United Way and for the dedicated volunteers that helped us make this project happen.


Before After


Headwaters Land Conservancy

Leaving a Legacy By Laura Justin, Executive Director

land is of particular importance as it is the largest private parcel on the lake. As the years passed, Steve knew he had to protect this rare, 74 acres of land and ¼ mile of waterfront on Otsego Lake from development. It took a long time and a lot of work to accomplish everything he wanted to do, and it also took a while for him to find HeadWaters and complete the final step of a conservation easement. We are grateful for Steve’s perseverance and the opportunity to protect such a special place.

Steve and Charlotte Qua at their home on Otsego Lake


t my age there aren’t too many surprises. I usually see things coming from a mile away- but I sure didn’t have the foresight to know what a simple piece of paper on my desk held in store for HeadWaters when I saw it a few weeks ago. I had been at an appointment and missed a visitor to the office. Emily told me Steve Qua had stopped by to see me and left something on my desk. I assumed it was a helpful suggestion or a newsletter he had gathered from a land conservancy in Florida over the winter. Steve is the kind of person who is always trying to help us with big and small things alike. As a former HWLC Board Chairman, a conservation easement donor, a financial supporter, and a fundraising host who has opened his home to us, I know that Steve and Charlotte Qua are in sync with

our work and dedicated to the cause of land preservation. So, how does a person like Steve Qua surprise me? He leaves a copy of his trust on my desk, showing HeadWaters as a recipient of part of his estate. As tears welled in my eyes and deep appreciation swelled in my heart, I knew I needed to sit down with Steve and Charlotte to discuss this big news. We were able to meet a few days later at their home on Otsego Lake to share a few hours together, discussing how it feels to leave a legacy. Steve’s grandfather had the vision to purchase a large tract of land on Otsego Lake decades before Steve was born. This land has remained in the family for almost a century and now Steve and Charlotte happily open it to their family and friends every week throughout the summer. This

When I asked Steve and Charlotte why they made such a generous gift to HeadWaters they listed many reasons; to create continuity, a desire for permanence, knowing the funds would be well utilized and many other thoughts as well. Steve went on to explain, “I was enriched by HeadWaters. They helped us to protect this place. I learned so much during this process and I am thankful.” Charlotte also shared her feelings about the gift by saying, “I have discovered that when you give, you always get back more than you gave. I know people talk about this all the time, but it really is true and we have experienced it.” Steve summarized their thoughts with one final expression he has always been fond of quoting:

For Good, Forever. As our time together ended, Steve shared one final sentiment that I will never forget. He told me about a ritual he employs when he is far away in Florida during the winter months. On nights that he can’t sleep, he closes his eyes and starts a very special journey. He imagines he is driving back to Otsego Lake and with each exit sign he passes in his mind, he is one mile closer to being back to the place he loves the most… his sacred space.

ISSUE 3, 2013

Thank You… Otsego Conservation District for assisting HWLC with the Spring Woodland Wildflower Hike & Geocache Adventure on the Sturgeon River Preserve. We appreciate all of the work AmeriCorps member Justin Burchett put into these programs. Gary Gee, James Mayer, Erica Wescoat, and Bob Clark for contributing photos to our newsletters. Jim Supina and Gary Neumann for hosting field trips for the Land Guardian Photography Club. Mike Mang, Joe Jarecki, John Arevalo, and Paul Kogelschatz for cleaning up the SRP after a severe winter. Jerry Smith and Paul Kogelschatz for assisting in the installation of no trespassing signs along the boundary of Lake Avalon Preserve property. Scott Whitcomb from the DNR, Justin Burchett from the OCD, Andrea Locke from Huron Pines, Mike Mang from North Star Natural Resources, Barb Stauffer from Crawford- Roscommon Conservation District, Toni Pastotnik from the USDA-NRCS, and Matt Kleitch from the DEQ of Gaylord for presenting at the Enhancing Wildlife Habitats for Landowners Workshop.

Gary Neumann for hosting the 2013 Annual Appreciation Gathering at his lovely cabin on the Au Sable River and Jo Gallico- Knox for making the beautiful wine glasses. John Dallas, Jim Supina, Virginia Pierce, Don Inman, Martha & Glen Eberly, Bill Duncanson, and Mike Mang for all of their dedicated work toward the 2013 1st Annual Sporting Clay Shoot. All staff and volunteers from the Lewiston Sportsmen’s League. We appreciate you hosting HWLC for the 2013 1st Annual Sporting Clay Shoot. Brian Lindsay from Headwaters Chapter of TU for teaching young kids about macro-invertebrates on the Sturgeon River Preserve during the Geocache Adventure. Headwaters Chapter of TU board members and AmeriCorps member Brian Lindsay for removing a hazardous bridge on the Sturgeon River Preserve. Cody Johnston and Jacque Logreco for donating the use of telescopes for the Sturgeon Moon Walk.

Gary Neumann cooking on the grille at his Au Sable River Cabin for the 2013 Appreciation Gathering

The United Way of Otsego County for providing volunteers for the Day of Caring to beautify the HWLC’s Office. Linda Fitzpatrick, Nancy Pike, Sharon Weber, Jackie Drummond, Cindy K., Betty Hartmann, Stan Krausucki, Ann & Terry Kurth, and Jenny Webber. Steve Qua, Mike Mang, and Jacque Logreco for donating the use of tools and a trailer for the Day of Caring beautifying project. Volunteer Land Monitors: Jim Mayer, Roger Rasmussen, Dave Nadolsky, Jerry Smith, Barbara & Jim Kurbel, Glen Eberly, Elaine Carlson, Gary Neumann, Joe Jarecki, Jim Supina, John Dallas, and Mike Mang. Land Committee Members: Mike Mang, Jim Supina, Jerry Smith, Joe Jarecki, John Arevalo, Elaine Carlson, and Roger Rasmussen. Paul Kogelschatz for his dedicated service to HWLC and to the AmeriCorps program.

Headwaters Land Conservancy


Wish List

Do you have any of these items around the house that you may not need anymore? If so, put them to great use by donating them to HWLC today!

• Cordless drill and bit set • Sledgehammer • Ax • Handsaw(s) • Rake(s) • Shovel(s)

Volunteer Opportunities

Each year, HWLC must monitor each conservation easement in place throughout our 11 county service area in northeast Michigan. If you have a passion for special places, volunteering as a monitor is a great opportunity to get outdoors and explore land that is protected forever. For more information please contact Emily Cook, Land Protection Specialist, at

Board Member Opportunities

Help HWLC continue their mission to protect the “Up North” we all enjoy. We're looking for a few talented and conscientious volunteer Board Members to lead and strengthen our programs. If you can contribute your time, thoughtfulness, and leadership one morning a month, and are interested in exploring this opportunity, contact Laura Justin, Executive Director at to find out whether this volunteer opportunity is right for you. We're especially looking for folks with marketing, fundraising, project management, and finance experience who shares our conservation interests.

• Weed whacker (gas or manual) • Assortment of nails/ screws • Tool box • Work gloves • AA batteries • AAA batteries • Flagging tape

Help us maintain our public preserves and provide tools to our volunteers by donating one of these items. Donated items can be dropped off at the HWLC’s Office located in downtown Gaylord.

Photo by Robert Clark

• Machete

ISSUE 3, 2013

13-Year-Old Shotgun Prodigy Competes at Clay Shoot Fundraiser

August 20, 2013 2013-08-20/clay-shoot_41430423

spot on Team Baretta and her own clothing and accessory endorsement, all before attending a high school lecture.

LEWISTON — Fans will get the chance to catch a glimpse of clay shooting prodigy Annabelle Ayers at the “Hotshots for HeadWaters” event at the Lewiston Sportsmen’s League Friday.

The Traverse City area middle school student may not have completed driver’s training yet, but that has not stopped her from winning countless state and regional tournaments along with earning the nickname “Tiger.”

Ayers set a record when she became the country’s youngest-ever champion at the National Sporting Clays Association national championships at the age of 13 last October. Included with the hundreds of awards and national praise, Ayers earned a

“It looks like we maybe have about 50 people signed up,” said HeadWaters Land Conservancy Executive Director Laura Justin. “We are very excited for the event with the weather looking perfect. At the heart of it is fundraising for HeadWaters Land Conservancy.” HeadWaters Land Conservancy supports a number of projects through purchases as a land trust organization. Most of the group’s current projects are on the Au Sable and Sturgeon rivers. “Funds raised will be used for land protection throughout Northeast Michigan,” Justin said. “There are other organizations that are much larger than we are that use these types of events as their primary fundraising event. We are hoping this may eventually become our pinnacle event for the year.”

Headwaters Land Conservancy

With your support... We Raised Over $9,700 Benefiting Local Conservation!

Thank y

ISSUE 3, 2013

Hotshots for HeadWaters Sporting Clay Shoo Fundraiser


you to all of our sponsors!

Non Profit Presorted Paid Crossroads Ind. Inc. Gaylord, MI 49735 Permit #281

Headwaters Land Conservancy

HeadWaters Land Conservancy 110 South Elm Avenue Gaylord, MI 49735 989-731-0573

Recycle your newsletter ~ Pass it on! Printed on Recycle Paper with Vegetable-Based Inks

Photo by Robert Clark

Woolly Woollam Award

We need your


Is your record in our system up to date? Or do we need to correct it? Address changes are very hard for us to keep track of since many of our members move or have more than one home! Please help us make sure your information is up to date by returning the envelope to us that is attached to this newsletter or by e-mailing Kristy at kmortham@headwatersconservancy. org. Kristy can double check your information so that you can receive updates at your cabin or region of interest. For those who enjoy electronic communication please send us your e-mail! Next year we will be sending important updates and notices via e-mail to our members. Thank you for your help with our record keeping. We want to make sure you receive our information in a timely way.

What is a Woolly Woollam Award? The Woolly Woollam Award is an award HWLC has named after John A. Woollam. John A. Woollam has been an integral partner in accomplishing land conservation based projects with HeadWaters Land Conservancy and other organizations within our area. In honor of John A. Woollam we have selected Roger Rasmussen for this award. On August 10th, 2013 the Woolly Woollam Award was given to Roger. In appreciation of Roger’s tireless volunteer work and all that he does for stewardship and conservation excellence in northeast Michigan. We award you with the Woolly Woollam Award.

HeadWaters Land Conservancy: Currents Fall 2013  

HeadWaters Land Conservancy is a Michigan based 501c3 non-profit land trust comprised of a Staff, Board of Directors, Volunteers and Members...

HeadWaters Land Conservancy: Currents Fall 2013  

HeadWaters Land Conservancy is a Michigan based 501c3 non-profit land trust comprised of a Staff, Board of Directors, Volunteers and Members...