Chevron Conservation Award letter from Glenn Sheppard, The North Woods Call, honoring Dr. John H. Tanton

Chevron Conservation Award

The North Woods Call

The NEWSpaper For People Who Love the North

Nov. 28, 1989

Chevron Conservation Awards Committee


Dr. John Tanton started setting the tone for Michigan conservation in the mid 1960s. If longevity is the ultimate measure, he has been incredibly successful. The strategies,rationale and values he began establishing then prevail today through much of the Michigan conservation community, due in large part to his early recognition that developing leadership is critical.

In 1970, Tanton was the first to use Michigan's then new Environmental Protection Act. By selecting cases carefully, he was able to demonstrate that the law will work, if used responsibly. This taught irresponsible, opportunistic, developers that they are no longer free to sacrifice trout streams, wetlands and other precious resources recklessly. It established precedents that still prevail.

With the lawsuit established as an effective conservation tool, Tanton shifted to the Conservancy to preserve land. First he used the national Nature Conservancy, convincing it to take an interest in Michigan, and then to establish a state office. Then, he drew together a group of local leaders and created the Little Traverse Conservancy. The LTC has been so effective that it has served as a model for similar local conservancies throughout the state.

Now, land is being preserved without costly lawsuits and irritating confrontation. Often the developers are taking the lead to preserve lands through the conservancies.

A key element in this has been Tanton's focus on education and leadership development. The LTC's education program has captured many for the conservation cause. It has created a conservation conscience in political, business and industrial leaders and in the general public, ingraining conservation into the local culture.

Individuals Tanton first "touched" 10, 15 and 20 years ago are today's conservation leaders throughout the state.

As editor of The North Woods Call, I have reported on his unequalled contributions since the 1960s. I know of no other single individual who has made as great, or as lasting, a contribution to Michigan conservation in that time.


Glen Sheppard

Copyright 2006-2022 Dr. John H. Tanton estate