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The land donation is aimed at ensuring protection of wildlife habitats and natural resources.

Ogemaw County Land Donated to Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy

O'Brien Family Gives Conservation Easement to Preserve Rifle River Tract

January 2, 2009       Leave a Comment
By: MyBayCity Staff

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An Ogemaw County wildlife area with a trout stream is being preserved for posterity.

A Bay County resident and her two siblings, who grew up in this area, recently donated a conservation easement on 155-acres near Prescott to the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy.

The donation is aimed at ensuring protection of wildlife habitats and natural resources, according to Valerie Roof, executive director of the Conservancy.

The easement means the land must remain natural and undeveloped forever, but doesn't change ownership. Since the property is privately owned, it is not open to the public.

Mary Ann Fleming, of Essexville, her brother Pat O'Brien, of Stockbridge, and her sister Emily O'Brien, of Jamacia Plain, MA, donated the easement in Mills Township of Ogemaw County near Skidway Lake, Michigan.

The property is primarily forested with oak and aspen mixed with conifer swamps and shrub wetlands. It is bisected by over 1,800 feet of the Rifle River, which is designated as a Michigan Natural River. This swift-moving stream is one of the fastest in the Lower Peninsula. The Hardwood Creek, a beautiful trout stream, passes through the property. A declining resource, typically known as a cedar swamp, follows the route of the Hardwood Creek. Rare wildflowers dot the property. Several threatened species are sustained by the area, including the bald eagle, long-eared owl, osprey, Blanding's turtle, and copperbelly watersnake.

"The O'Brien family donated the conservation easement on their land because they love the land and the family memories that they cherish there," said Ms. Roof. "They have a legacy they want to leave."

The O'Brien property supplements existing protected natural lands nearby, including the adjacent Ogemaw State Forest. Over 900 acres of conservation easement land held by the Conservancy lies within a few miles of the donated land. The Michigan Department of Transportation also owns over 500 acres of land protected in a wetland mitigation bank just 10 miles away.

"The land has been in the family for approximately 60 years, starting with our grandparents, Harold and Jeanette O'Brien," said Emily O'Brien. "Our parents, James and Virginia, did not want the land to be developed and we wanted the habitat to forever remain wild. We also take pleasure in the scenic vista that our property offers to river users and passersby."

For further information on this donation or the tax benefits of easement or land donations, please contact Valerie Roof at 989.891.9986.

The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy works to maintain the quality of life in the Saginaw Bay Watershed through the preservation of important wetlands, waterways and land of all types. The Conservancy is a non-profit charitable 501(c)(3) organization working in the Saginaw Basin. To date, the Conservancy has protected more than 300 acres in seven preserves and 4,162 acres in conservation easements with 45 landowners. ###

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