TRAVERSE CITY (WWJ/AP) – A conservation group wants to buy 700 acres of privately owned hardwood forest in northern Michigan.

The Leelanau Conservancy would use the purchase to protect wildlife habitat and the water quality of nearby Glen Lake, according to a report in the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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The forest is family-owned and located northwest of Traverse City. It shares a border with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park and is home to black bears and foxes. There also is a 2-mile-long glacial valley.

Buying the forest would allow the conservancy to protect a key part of the Glen Lake and Good Harbor Bay watersheds and offer additional recreation opportunities for hikers and skiers.

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“An opportunity to protect wildlife habitat and protect the water quality of Glen Lake at a landscape scale will never be available again,” said Tom Nelson, conservancy executive director. “Protecting this forest tract from future development is really protecting the pristine water quality of Glen Lake.”

Buying the land and creating a stewardship endowment costs about $4.1 million. The conservancy is about $500,000 short. Members are seeking contributions before a July deadline.

Foundations and donors have pledged matching gifts.

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