Chikaming Open Lands Milestones
1999 Chikaming Open Lands (COL) was incorporated on December 11, 1999, by founding members Peter and Jean Van Nice and Steve and Jean Smith.
2000 Peter Van Nice becomes the first president of the Board of Directors and the organization gains its 501(c)(3) status.
2001 Soon thereafter, COL records its first fee-owned property, the Eleanor O’Connor Wilson Woods Preserve, a 5-acre parcel for the purpose of protecting a high quality dune forest in Chikaming Township.
2002 As a community partner and advocate for parks, recreation and open space, COL helped raised over $230,000 for the acquisition of the 267-acre Chikaming Township Park and Preserve. Additionally and with the generosity of the Sima family of New Buffalo, COL acquires the156-acre Louis J. Sima Great Lakes Marsh Preserve.
2003 COL is awarded a $3,500 grant from the Berrien Community Foundation to hire a botanist who will create a natural features survey of the Louis J. Sima Great Lakes Marsh.
2004 COL purchases a building in Lakeside from the Lakeside 13, a local group of civically-minded women. The building is rehabbed and becomes the office. Additionally, COL is awarded a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation which is used for capacity building.
2005 COL hires Jean Brokish as its Land Protection Specialist. She is the first employee. COL is awarded a 3-year grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality totaling $1,054,000 in an effort to improve the water quality of the Galien River watershed. George and Andrea Platz become the first to donate a conservation easement.
2006 An administrative assistant is added to staff and Jean Smith becomes the president of the Board of Directors.
2007 COL applies for accreditation from the Land Trust Alliance. This is a very large undertaking which takes staff and board 700 hours collectively to accomplish.
2008 COL becomes one of the first 39 land trusts in the country to be accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance. Jean Brokish moves to Hawaii and Elizabeth Nellums is hired as the Land Protection Specialist. Steve Smith becomes president of the Board of Directors.
2009 Randy Rood becomes COL’s first Executive Director.
2010 COL successfully rallies support with its first Barn Benefit at the home of Stan and Ann Dudley Goldblatt.
COL Founders Steve and Jean Smith, Jean and Peter Van Nice