2008-01-03 / News

Rudd Brothers Protect Land and Shoreline, Creating Preserve in Cedarville

A stretch of shoreline along the Rudd property shows some of the land that is now permanently protected. (Little Traverse Conservancy photograph) A stretch of shoreline along the Rudd property shows some of the land that is now permanently protected. (Little Traverse Conservancy photograph) Another 67 acres of land in Cedarville will become a preserve, as the Little Traverse Conservancy has purchased part of a 127-acre parcel from Terry and Bill Rudd. The rest of the property, roughly 60 acres, will still be owned by the family, which placed a conservation easement on the property to limit development there.

A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement that allows a landowner to limit the type or amount of development on the property while retaining private ownership of the land and continuing to pay taxes. The easement is signed by the landowner and the conservancy, and the conservancy accepts the donated easement with the understanding that it must enforce the terms of the easement forever. After the easement is signed, it is recorded with the County Register of Deeds and applies to all future owners of the land.

The 127 acres adjoins the existing 140-acre William B. Derby Jr. Nature Preserve to the east of the property, establishing a 267-acre permanent green space that starts at the corner of Four-Mile Block and M-134 in Cedarville and continues west. Almost two acres of shoreline on the south side of the properties will remain natural shoreline, with no development. The shoreline borders the Les Cheneaux Channel and Mackinac Bay.

The Cedarville properties protected by the Rudd brothers through Little Traverse Conservancy are shown with the adjacent William Derby Nature Preserve. (Little Traverse Conservancy image) The Cedarville properties protected by the Rudd brothers through Little Traverse Conservancy are shown with the adjacent William Derby Nature Preserve. (Little Traverse Conservancy image) "The pristine shoreline enjoyed by so many boaters who travel through the main channel to the Les Cheneaux Islands is now going to remain that way forever," said Ty Ratliff, land protection specialist for Little Traverse Conservancy.

The Rudd brothers wanted to commemorate their family's legacy in the Les Cheneaux Islands by preserving a portion of the area their family came to love over their 120-year history there.

The Rudd family is one of the area's oldest families, arriving in Michigan in the 1880s, when Joshua and Elizabeth Rudd first came from Ireland. They settled in the Rockview Ridge area, just south of Pickford, and had five children, including Edward, who managed a bakery in downtown Cedarville until he became the caretaker at the Les Cheneaux Club on Marquette Island. He took the position in 1918, and worked there until 1954, with his wife, Bertha (nee Smale). Their family grew up there. His daughter, Uldeen, wrote a book about their experiences living on Marquette Island called "Six on an Island." The book describes the Rudd children's childhood, including Edward Jr.'s trips to the mainland property that is now part of the preserve. The land was then owned by William Derby, a good friend of Edward and Bertha Rudd.

As a young boy, Edward Rudd Jr. built a small cabin on the property. Eventually, he purchased this land from the Derbys and built a family cabin on the bay. His father, Edward Rudd, retired from the Les Cheneaux Club in 1954, when Dick Smith succeeded him. When they returned to the mainland, Edward and Bertha Rudd also built a home on Mackinac Bay, where they resided until they died.

Over time, Rudd family members moved around, but always returned to the Cedarville property when they could.

"We spent many happy years enjoying our cottage on Mackinac Bay, and, as time has passed, our children and grandchildren have enjoyed it, as well, during all seasons of the year," Terry Rudd said.

Concerned that the land would eventually be sold or split up, Bill and Terry Rudd began considering ways to keep the property intact. New legislation caps the taxes on land with conservation easements, making it easier to pass family land on to descendants who often cannot afford higher taxes, and who simply sell the land instead.

"We all feel like this is an incredible win-win situation and now that it is all said and done, we are ecstatic," Mr. Rudd said. "All of the land remains pristine and we are able to keep some of it in the family. The Mackinac Bay area woods and water are my favorite places on earth. As soon as I smell the air or hear the call of a gull, my soul is renewed."

The Rudds and Little Traverse Conservancy worked on the preserve project with the Les Cheneaux Foundation and George Covington. The nonprofit Les Cheneaux Foundation transferred a 140-acre parcel to the conservancy for the William Derby Preserve. The conservancy also obtained a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant to buy its 60- acre portion from the Rudds.

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