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July 13, 2024

Carl T. Johnson

June 1, 1911 – September 1, 2008

Carl T. Johnson was an avid hunter and sportsmen, a leading conservationist, a local businessman (Johnson Insurance Co.), and an active community member. His contributions helped shape the laws, regulations, and policies guiding the management of the State of Michigan’s natural resources.

1936 – Organized (while still in high school) the Cadillac Big Game Club, which later
became the Cadillac (Michigan) Bear Club and then the Michigan Bear Hunters Association (1946)

1942 – Sworn in as the youngest Mayor of Cadillac Michigan. He served 11 months as Mayor before enlisting in the U.S. Cavalry where he then served 2 years in England.

1963 – Appointed by Michigan Governor George Romney to the Michigan Conservation Commission (later called the Natural Resources Commission), Carl went on to serve one of the longest tenures as Commissioner (17 years) until stepping down in 1980.

1969 – Recognized by American Motors as one of the 10 most outstanding citizen conservationists in the United States

1970 – Appointed by Michigan Governor William Milliken as first Chairman of the National Lakeshore Advisory Committee, to improve management of the lakeshores at Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks, and Isle Royale National Parks

1980 – Named as Cadillac Michigan’s Citizen of the Year

1982 – Founded the Michigan Conservation Foundation

1988 – Once again named as Cadillac Michigan’s Citizen of the year

1992 – The Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center, located near the canal and Mitchell State Park, was designated in his name

1998 – Was presented a plaque from the Department of Natural Resources in honor of his land conservation efforts through the donation of development rights on the now preserve property to the state of Michigan.

The history behind the creation of the Carl T. Johnson Model Forest Preserve

In the 1980s, Carl purchased this 40-acre parcel. He built a home and a few outbuildings in addition to renting the land to a farmer for cash crops. Observing the rapid urbanization in the neighborhood Carl enrolled his property into a “Farmland Development Rights Easement,” pursuant to the “Conservation and Historic Preservation Easement Act.” On October 7, 2004, Carl amended the above mentioned “Farmland Development Rights Easement,” by severing approximately 1 acre, which included the home, from the easement and sold it to another party.

At the time of his passing, the remaining 39 acres of property in the Carl T. Johnson Trust was designated to be transferred to the ownership of the Cadillac Rotary Club. The Cadillac Rotary was not interested in becoming landowners or managing land. Therefore, on September 4, 2015, the land was transferred from the Trust to the Cadillac Area Land Conservancy and is now managed as the “Carl T. Johnson Nature Preserve”.

S and A Custom Design
Home Depot of Cadillac
Rotary Club of Cadillac
Old School Forestry – Steve Kalisz | BSA Troop 125
William Gullekson – Eagle Scout Project