The Perry Family protects vital land on the Flat River

The Perry Family protects vital land on the Flat River

When Rich and Kristin Perry purchased 10 acres just off the shores of the Flat River, their main goal was to build a house and have property to raise their family on. 

Then their neighbor put his 50 acres of wooded riverfront land up for sale. The Perrys were interested in buying it, but they weren’t sure if it was the right time to make a large investment. 

“When we called the owner of the property, we learned he didn’t want it to get developed,” Rich Perry said. 

Construction companies were eagerly bidding on the property with plans to cut down the woods and divide it up into separate lots to create a new subdivision. 

“We weren’t the highest bidder on those 50 acres they were selling, but we told them our plans weren’t to develop it. We wanted to raise a family out there,” Perry said. 

The couple successfully purchased the property in 2018. 

The land boasts a diverse hardwood forest with mature red and white oak, red maple, black cherry, basswood and hickory trees. Many seeps and springs flow through the property unimpeded to the Flat River. It hosts a variety of spring ephemerals and provides important habitat for migrating birds, mammals and pollinators. 

Former LCWM Executive Director Joe Engel is a friend of the Perry family and informed them about the opportunity to establish a conservation easement, a move that would protect the natural land they had just purchased in perpetuity. Moreover, their property’s location on the Flat River made it a candidate for a EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 grant that would alleviate the costs associated with the process. 

Combined with the prospect of conserving the land forever, the financial incentive and the potential tax benefits made the choice to move forward a no-brainer. 

“If you go on the other side of the river and you look at the property, I just thought someday our great-great-great grandkids would look at those woods and see buildings all around it and be able to say that their great-great-great grandparents are the reason there’s still woods there,” Perry said. 

The family embarked on the process knowing it would not be fast or easy, but they were committed to see it through. The Perrys finalized their conservation easement in the summer of 2021. 

In addition to providing invaluable habitat and ecosystem services for the resident natural communities, the land is something of a playground for the Perry family. They enjoy activities like hiking, hunting, fishing and snowshoeing on the property. 

“We go on a walk quite a few times a week through the property. We enjoy watching the baby deer and turkeys grow up, swimming in the river, playing in the creek and being a part of nature. My kids love to pick wild raspberries,” Perry said. “If you were to walk through the woods with my son, he could tell you the different species of trees just by looking at their trunks.” 

Thanks to the Perrys, this land will always be available for these kinds of activities. 

“Both my wife and I are very proud we are able to say we could do this and conserve this land forever as the way it is,” Perry said. “If there weren’t organizations like the Land Conservancy of West Michigan protecting property, all of that would go away and we’d have developments everywhere.” 

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