The Point Betsie lighthouse restoration in Northern Michigan succeeds thanks to The Nature Conservancy and other Northern Michigan nonprofits.

When it comes to local ecological restoration projects, you’ll often hear The Nature Conservancy’s name. But this global nonprofit, on the ground in 38 countries and all 50 states, is a separate entity from many of the regional ecological and environmental groups—and that’s a good thing. “We’re really big, but not big in a bad way,” says The Nature Conservancy’s Melissa Molenda. “When we’re talking about the Great Lakes, it’s not just the small shoreline of Lake Michigan but the entire Great Lakes basin, from Minnesota to New York.” The Nature Conservancy’s big-picture thinking and international stature makes it an invaluable resource for smaller, locally based nonprofits like Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, leading to partnerships that help make big projects happen.

TNC’s recent regional “win” is Zetterberg Preserve at Point Betsie, where the organization helped provide more than 40,000 hours of boots-on-the-ground work and secured grants when additional funding was needed. The result? A gorgeous swath of wetlands, forest and shifting sands at one of the North’s most beloved spots is now—and forever—a place where endangered native species like Pitcher’s thistle and Lake Huron locust can thrive.

For more on The Nature Conservancy’s projects in Northwest Michigan, visit