Conservation Resource Alliance
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A Legacy of Innovation

June 26, 2006

Jim Haveman walked into his first day of work as a District Conservationist for the Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resources Conservation Service) in Reed City on April 29, 1974. After 7 years working with farmers to conserve habitat and water quality, he saw intriguing possibilities in the Resource Conservation and Development program, and landed the Traverse City RC&D Coordinator job in 1981. Jim spent the next 10 years building the operation into a regional stronghold for conservation projects. CRA staff people are still unearthing a surprising number of projects in our 13-county service area that benefited from Jim’s technical input and creative pass-through funding, a boon to rural northern Michigan during the heyday of federal funding. In addition to a whole laundry list of community enhancement projects, such as the harbor at Elk Rapids, Peterson Park in Leelanau County, and improvements to the Boardman River waterfront in Traverse City, the flagship Pere Marquette River Restoration project was launched to answer the cry for help coming from rural Lake County. This project shaped the future for CRA as the first comprehensive watershed restoration project of its kind in North America. It was the brainchild of Jim Haveman and a handful of strong-willed partners who support creative, pro-active resource management to this day.

We liked to tease Jim - when he was around, instead of out fishing all the time - about the guy who had agency bureaucrats literally spitting mad at him, saying that the Pere Marquette restoration project was too big, too hard, too expensive. Was he crazy? How in the world did he imagine that anyone could reverse almost 2 centuries of damage from logging, massive erosion, and subsequent recreation and development?

Well, we thank Jim everyday at CRA (or at least we tell him we do), for succeeding. You see, every day now, 8 employees, along with hundreds of partner groups and volunteers, owe our careers to Jim! By setting the pace with the Pere Marquette river restoration project, bringing many energies and funding sources to bear on a big, tough problem, Jim created the formula that’s at work today in 15 of northern Michigan’s best watersheds, from the Big Sable and Pere Marquette in the south, to Emmet County’s Maple River near the Mackinac Bridge. Not only are we finishing major projects, such as repairing each and every logging-caused erosion site on the Betsie, Little Manistee and Pine Rivers, but we are using Jim’s formula for tackling new problems, like the fragmentation, or breaking apart, of important wildlife habitat connections as northern Michigan develops.

Almost 25 years to the day after he began his assignment with CRA, Jim retired, again without flourish, again with heartfelt thanks from the friends and families in and around CRA. And we promise to go forward remembering all the things you taught us, Jim, especially to do conservation the right way, according to good science and putting the resource needs first. After all, we can still hear you saying, “…because haphazard conservation is not much better than no conservation at all.”

Lately, Jim has been living it up, spending time with his 2 granddaughters, his 20+ year taxidermy business, Nature’s Reflections, and generally enjoying the fish and wildlife he worked for 30 years to protect. We miss Jim terribly at CRA, but every one of us aspires to follow his path. We honor the courage and vision that Jim invested in growing CRA from a one-person, government supported office, to the nonprofit conservation force that the organization is today. Each one of the staff members at CRA would be proud to retire with the type of accomplishments under our belt that Jim has.


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Conservation Resource Alliance

Bayview Professional Centre
10850 Traverse Highway, Suite 1180
Traverse City, MI 49684
231-946-6817

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