About Us

Lake George Conservancy Mission Statement

The Lake George Conservancy exists to protect and preserve the quality of the ecosystems of Lake George and its watershed through education, research, and procurement of sensitive land, by gift or purchase.

About Us: The History of the LGC

In the late 1990’s, Lake George residents became increasingly concerned that the surrounding environs were being threatened by the encroachment of new commercial businesses. Increasingly, truck and transportation-related businesses on the southern part of Angola road had dramatically increased the traffic in the area bringing it’s associated noise and light pollution. The Lake George Conservancy was provided a tax-free 501(c)(3) corporation in 2000. The LGC was founded with the express purpose of creating a legal entity to acquire land for preservation and blocking commercial development in sensitive areas around the lake. 

The “Preserve”

In the early 2000s, it was learned that one of the country’s largest  truck stop developers had plans for buiding a new mega plaza to the immediate east of Lake George. They submitted a bid to purchase 58 acres of land bordering Interstate 69 and Old Highway 27 north of Baker Road. In an effort to block this new commercial development, the LGC Board of Directors made a competing offer to purchase the land, contingent on their ability to raise the funds. A formal fund-raising campaign to raise the $1,725,000 purchase price was launched. The purchase offer included a provision to create an installment payment plan over 10 years with interest.

A communication plan was put in motion to contact all Lake George residents (many of whom were not at the lake at that time of year) via mailings, meetings, and the media. It was a collective effort, with many Lake George neighbors actively participating to get the story out and the pledges in. Pilot Gas was contacted, and they made a $300,000 donation contingent upon the purchase closing, and the donated funds to be used on land acquisition only. Within 90 days the necessary funding was pledged, and the land acquired. The campaign was so successful the accrued debt was able to be paid off early.

Memorial Benches

Memorial Benches

The “Oak Savanna”

In the fall of 2017, Blackburn Farms put up land bordering Kope Kon Road and old Highway 27, in Michigan for sale at a public auction. The Board members of the Conservancy reviewed the various parcels being sold and concluded that the Conservancy would be interested in bidding on several that contained environmentally sensitive watershed areas into Lake George. At the same time, several Board members and local Kope Kon residents joined forces to raise funds for the Conservancy to purchase one of the apple orchard’s parcels to prevent it from being developed or converted to farmland. Through the funds that were raised and Conservancy funds dedicated to land acquisition a 26-acre orchard plot was successfully purchased.

In deciding what to do with an old, nonproductive apple orchard, the Board approached the Blue Heron Ministry for environmental guidance. It was decided to create an “Oak Savanna,” an environment that has been identified as a priority ecosystem for habitat restoration and management. A program that provided residents the opportunity to purchase memorial tree clusters, for which the funds generated purchased the Oak trees. A milkweed and wildflower sanctuary were planted on 6 acres to aid the Monarch butterfly recovery efforts. In 2021 a walking path was built to enhance Lake George resident’s experience on this nature preserve.

Carpet Land Property

Soon after the Orchard purchase, the LGC Board was approached by the Like George Sewer board to bid on a small piece of property along Angola road, directly south of the Marina. After the bidding process was completed the Sewer Board determined the Conservancy’s bid and planned set aside usage was the best fit for the ecological balance for the lake. This property has been planted with various hardwood trees and under planted with white clover.

Carpet Land Tree Planting

Carpet Land Tree Planting

Swift Acres

The LGC board conducted a survey of Lake George’s surrounding properties with the express purpose of identifying acreage that represented the greatest environmental threat to our lake water quality or lifestyle. The highest-ranking property coming out of that study was the SW corner of Old Angola road and Lake George 201, roughly 16 acres. In early 2019 preliminary discussions began with the owners which eventually turned into negotiations for purchase and an offer. The owners Jim and Judy Swift accepted the LGC offer well below the appraised value as they appreciated our vision of keeping the property in a natural state. After the offer was accepted the board launched a special purchase fundraiser which brought in over $100,000 and enabled the purchase to occur with put any dept. In 2022 the the farm land parcel was planted with 1700 hardwood trees. A grant was used to pay for the trees and planting labor. 

Pete & Jean Melchi Woods

During early 2020 the LGC was approached by the Melchi family to acquire three parcels of land on the NW corner of Angola road and Lake George 201, this was the second-highest priority piece of land identified in our survey of potential acquisitions. Once again, the owners accepted the LGC purchase offer for two of the three properties, which represented a generous partial donation. The purchase price again was well below the appraised valuation, which allowed for the acquisition without a special purpose fundraiser. Both the Swift and Melchi properties were prime commercial development plots of land and would have represented a dramatic increase in traffic, noise, and light pollution had they been developed.

Lake George Conservancy Properties

Potential future acquisitions:

The LGC will continue to target properties we feel present a significant threat to our lake, including the remaining SE corner of Baker rd Angola rd. Additionally, the LGC holds the first right of refusal for the remaining farmland adjacent to the southern side of Lake George 201.

Activities

Activities of the Lake George Conservancy include beautification projects, public education programs, reforesting, fundraising events, water quality testing, and land acquisition and management for the properties we own. One of the current projects is to tighten the existing deed restrictions to ensure the land remains development free for perpetuity.

Fund Raising Activities:

  • Membership Dues
  • Boutique Sales
  • July Fourth Chicken BBQ
  • Sustaining Campaign
  • Donations for Land Acquisition
  • Special Purpose Donations

Purpose

The Lake George Conservancy is a member-driven public benefit corporation. Its purposes are three-fold:

  • Environmental Testing
    To perform periodic environmental testing and scientific analysis, in collaboration with the Steuben County Lakes Council on Lake George waters, tributaries, and the surrounding ecosystem.
  • Land Acquisition
    To develop a process for the protection of the water and ecosystem of Lake George from environmental pollution and deterioration. These goals are achieved by acquiring (by gift or purchase) ecologically significant parcels of land surrounding the lake to create a buffer.
  • Communication
    To regularly disseminate information to our membership, the public, and to the States of Indiana and Michigan (and political subdivisions or agencies thereof) regarding the preservation and improvement of Lake George, its watershed, and its resources.

LGC Officers

Matt Minnick.                President
1300 Lane 301 Lake George
Fremont, IN 46737
(563) 613-3165‬
mlm4iu@gmail.com

John Albright                    Vice President
20 Lane 301C Lake George
 Fremont, IN 46737
317 679-5775
jaalbrigh@yahoo.com

Brenda Finkbeiner    Treasurer
363 Kope Kon Pointe
Coldwater, MI  49036
(203) 417-7387
bfinkbeiner@comcast.net

Renate Brenneke        Secretary                                    383 Kope Kon Point                Coldwater, MI 49036                               (517) 238-4583.            Brenneker2000@yahoo.com

                   

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LGC Board Members

Tim Burke
280 Lane 140 Lake George
Fremont, IN 46737
(812) 320-9071
donutburke@att.net

Tom Stone
220 Lane 301B Lake George
Fremont, IN  46737
(419) 304-5293
stonekml@gmail.com

Derek Melchi
200 Lane 301B Lake George
Fremont, IN  46737
(260) 750-1014
dmelchi2000@yahoo.com

Bill Ricci
195 Lane 301C Lake George
Fremont, IN 47673
(260) 409-6097
wjricc@gmail.com

Jim Lake
275 Lane 130B Lake George.                          
Fremont, IN 46737                                          (260) 466-6545                        jdlke68@gmail.com

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Tom Ayers
319 Kope Kon Pointe
Coldwater, MI 49036
(260) 241-4165
ayerstom54@gmail.com

Megan Burton
Lane 201 Lake George
Fremont, IN 46737
(260) 442-1857
meganburton@frontier.com

Mike Gepfert
520 Lane 301B Lake George
Fremont, IN 46737
(260) 413-0034
mikeg@gepferthomes.com

Gary Davis
1040 Lane 301 Lake George
Fremont, IN 46737                                          (419) 356-5557              kopekaneegld@gmail.com

 

Dan Andrews
160 Lane 201B Lake George
Fremont, IN 46737
(317) 371-9908
danandrewscmacpa@gmail.com

John Ranshaw
565 Lane 301 Lake George
Fremont, IN 46737
(847) 922-7814
jdranshaw@gmail.com

The Oak Savanna Restoration Plan

The Oak Savanna Restoration Plan