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LEELANAU, MI-Concluding more than a decade of negotiations with a private landowner, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director K.L. Cool has accepted a proposal consolidating state and private properties on South Fox Island, located 30 miles off the coast here. Cool made the announcement at the Michigan Natural Resources Commission’s regular monthly meeting recently in Lansing.

The NRC previously had endorsed the exchange, which consolidates state land holdings in the northern end of the island and provides contiguous property lines for the island’s only private landowner.

“This is a smaller exchange than we previously considered, but it better enables us to meet the department’s management objectives for the island,” Cool says. “Visitors, especially the limited number of hunters who use the area, will benefit from the fact that it secures the landing access area on the northeast face and provides clearer hunting boundaries in the northern half of the island.”

Neighboring North Fox Island in Lake Michigan has been donated to the State of Michigan by developer David V. Johnson, chairman of Victor International of Detroit.

Johnson purchased the island from commercial developers seven years ago. The 836-acre North Fox is valued at $15 million. The state will pay only $2.2 million from a land grant trust for Johnson’s legal and closing expenses, making the donation worth nearly $13 million.

The island includes a 180-foot-high dune formation, a stone/sand beach, and five miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.

Johnson is working with the state and federal agencies to consolidate his holdings on the larger South Fox Island into the lower portion of the island.

Since Johnson already owns two-thirds of the 1,200 acre island, the state and the developer wanted to make the land contiguous.

With the consolidation, Johnson will also acquire 115 miles at the southern tip of South Fox, including a boat harbor.

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