A master electrician, a builder of planes and wooden chairs, a beekeeper, an avid reader and now an environmentalist – all of these words help describe Jerry Houts, 91, and his determined life.
In June, Houts protected 106 acres of his family’s land by donating a conservation easement that will protect them forever to the Little Traverse Conservancy.
“My dad grew up on Gruler Road in Petoskey and his dad had other lots around there,” Houts said. “He bought the original 180 acres of our family land when I was a year old and I lived on this land for much of my early years except when I was in the air force. from 1949 to 1952. “
The Air Force sent Jerry to electronics school and he served in the Korean War. After returning home, he worked on commercial and industrial projects throughout Michigan, including a stint at the Big Rock Nuclear Power Plant for 3.5 years.
“At that time, I had been working from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. for the past six months,” Houts said. “I didn’t get much sleep back then.”
Houts retired in 1990 from American electrical workers. His wife Martha died of cancer at age 65 in 1996 and he never remarried. However, he began to put his energy at the service of his passions and his projects. He built his own small plane and once flew a small plane in Alaska. Beekeeping was a 20-year project that he abandoned last year.
Houts’ inspiration to protect his lands came from John and Mary Lou Tanton, who protected their own Emmet County lands with a conservation easement.
“There was a development next to me and the owner offered me a lot of money for my land, and I said ‘forget it’,” Houts said. “I knew the only way to stop it was to put it on hold.”
The Houts Easement is dominated by a northern hardwood forest with approximately 30 acres of pine plantation. Approximately 30 additional acres are currently leased for haymaking. It lies southwest of Petoskey in the Bear River watershed and not far from other protected lands of the Little Traverse Conservancy.