Elk on the Whitcomb's private property
To ensure the property’s protection for years to come, the Whitcombs recently placed a conservation easement on the land by selling their rights to develop the land, at a significant bargain sale. The vastly diverse property lies adjacent to 105-acres protected and owned by the Sloan Family through a similar partnership with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) and Little Traverse Conservancy. “The Whitcomb property is a perfect example of how we can work with folks in the elk range who want to protect their land from future development,” said Dave B. Messics, regional vice president of RMEF Northeast. Below, the Whitcombs explain their personal motivation to make their long-term commitment to this incredible wildlife habitat.
“My wife Bernie and I have had the privilege of being stewards of this property for the past 23 years. During these years, countless hours of work have been, and continue to be, spent nurturing the land. It is a labor of love. The soils have improved, the forests grown, and wildlife has flourished. Our family enjoys so many recreational activities here: wildlife viewing, hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing, mushroom and berry picking to name a few. It has been a desire of ours for a long time that this land remain as open space forever.
Different activities always brought this to the forefront. For me, it was listening to a bull elk bugle on a September evening or sitting quietly in my deer blind on a crisp November morning watching the sun rise. For Bernie, it was while cross-country skiing across the hills overlooking the Stewart Creek Valley. After each trip, she would remark that future generations should be able to have this same heart gladdening experience.
When Ty Ratliff, land protection specialist for the Little Traverse Conservancy, expressed to me the Conservancy’s and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s ability to partner with us if we would agree to a bargain sale of development rights, we agreed to do whatever was necessary to make that happen. For us it was the right thing to do.
It’s now a “done deal” and we will be forever grateful to the Conservancy and the Elk Foundation for their commitment to the project and their far-sightedness in preserving this parcel of wildlife habitat.
So the bull elk will always be able to send his spine tingling bugle down the Stewart Creek Valley and the cross country skiers of tomorrow will see the same creeks, meadows, and forests that we have enjoyed for so long.
It is a legacy of which we can all be proud!”
– Doug & Bernie Whitcomb