No truck, but $43K, for winner: NWC raffle reverted to 50/50

Courtesy of Jane Griffith/North Woods Conservancy John Griffith thanked the other people involved in the Keweenaw Truck Raffle before the drawing in front of a print of “In the Moment,” a painting by American artist Robert Leland Pence that he painted while staying at North Woods Conservancy property near the mouth of the Gratiot River.

AHMEEK — The North Woods Conservancy (NWC) awarded Cathy Theisan from Dexter, Michigan, with $43,862 as the prize for their Keweenaw Truck Raffle on Monday afternoon. Only 605 of the 1,000 available raffle tickets sold, so the raffle reverted from a truck raffle to a 50/50 raffle. At least 885 tickets needed to be sold to give away a 2018 Midnight Edition Chevrolet Silverado as originally planned.

The proceeds of the raffle go to benefit the NWC, an all-volunteer 501c3 non-profit dedicated to preserving natural areas for science, education and public enjoyment.

“We’re going to service mortgages,” the NWC volunteer president, John Griffith, said.

Since their founding in 1992, the NWC has purchased five properties and helped establish the Gratiot River County Park. The projects were intended to be revenue neutral, but grant delays and other problems forced them to take mortgages on some properties instead. This saved more than 1,000 acres of land, but meant going into debt more than $800,000, according to the NWC website.

Griffith says they’ll also hold some of the raffle proceeds aside in case other properties become available, since sellers don’t usually want to wait for a fundraiser to be completed.

“We’d be in a position to buy it to preserve that public access,” he said.

Most NWC properties are open to people hiking, biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, but by default are closed to motor vehicles, camping, hunting or trapping. Some properties, like a portion of the Merganser Pond property allow bow hunting, according to the website. Fires are also prohibited unless otherwise noted. According to Griffith, the NWC tries to keep properties they buy under usage rules similar to what was happening before they purchased it.

“Our goal is to maintain public access,” he said.

The emphasis is on ‘quiet recreation’ like hiking rather than hunting or ORV’s, but the NWC takes the traditional use of the land into consideration when setting the regulations on a new property.

At the Seven Mile Point property, strict rules for access had to be put in place before the purchase could be made, because public access was forbidden by the subdivision rules, according to the website.

Griffith says if they hadn’t done that, there would be private homes there now and no public access at all.