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From Land Development Today magazine

LandChoices Working to Help Save America's First Boy Scout Camp
Tuesday, March 07, 2006

(March 7, 2006) Corporate and individual funds needed to save 4,877 acre camp.

By Kirt Manecke

LandChoices is working to help save Camp Owasippe, a 4,877 acre Boy Scout camp near Lake Michigan in Muskegon County's rural Blue Lake Township, north of Muskegon. Camp Owasippe is America's first Boy Scout camp. At a hearing January 14, 2006 the Chicago Area Council of Boy Scouts requested that Blue Lake Township rezone Owasippe so it can be sold to a Holland developer for $19.4 million. The rezoning would allow construction of up to 1,278 houses. A decision is expected this April.

"We want people to know that this nostalgic and breathtaking wilderness is at risk and major individual and corporate contributions are needed to save this treasure for future generations. The property contains loons and nesting pairs of bald eagles. It is a unique place in America that should be left wild," says Milford resident and LandChoices' founder and president Kirt Manecke.

A group of current and former Scouts formed the Owasippe Outdoor Education Center in 2002 and are raising funds to purchase the property to preserve it. Their plan includes the continued operation of Owasippe as a Boy Scout Camp and as an "outdoor university." They have a letter of intent with a partner, an international e-learning company, to develop a $25 million learning and conference facility on approximately 40 acres of the camp. It is the intention of all parties to place a conservation easement on the remaining land to permanently protect it. The property includes three lakes, rivers, a trout stream and rare oak-pine savannas.

"The Owasippe Outdoor Education Center has proposed a sustainable business plan that will balance smart development with the preservation of over 99% of the land," says Manecke.

The original property for Owasippe was donated in 1911 to the Chicago Boy Scouts by the City of Whitehall. The Chicago Area Council of Boy Scouts has operated Camp Owasippe for 94 years. The Council points to growing financial losses and dwindling numbers of campers as the reason for submitting the rezoning request.

"Imagine if there was no Yosemite, Yellowstone or Rocky Mountain or Smoky Mountain national parks. Imagine if there was no Owasippe," said west Michigan resident Steve Schrader, quoted in the January 15, 2006 issue of the Muskegon Chronicle.

About LandChoices
Based in Milford, Michigan, LandChoices is a national non-profit organization promoting land preservation. For more information and to donate to help save Camp Owasippe, visit LandChoices' website at .

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