The Grannis family first purchased property in the Marcott Valley in 1920 on the South and East Shores of Marcott Lake as part of a working dairy farm.  In 1953 they purchased land North of the lake and immediately stopped the cultivation of steep slopes and planted vegetation to stop erosion that had been occurring.

In 1960 Vance and Darlene Grannis purchased their property in Marcott Valley and began their lifetime efforts of environmental protection.  Vance served on the boards of national and international bird and zoological societies.  Vance was active in raising threatened species such as the trumpeter swan and reintroducing them to wild in Minnesota.  

Vance served on the board of directors at the Carpenter Nature Center in the 1980’s and 90’s where he learned the important contributions nature centers make to preserve land and provide vitally needed environmental education. It was then that Vance had the idea to establish a nature center in Marcott Valley.

The Marcott Lakes had long been identified in State, County and city plans as an important natural area worth protecting. The first step in land protection was applying to the County’s Farmland and Natural Areas Program in 2009. Through a combination of state and County funding, the County acquired a 17-acre conservation easement on a portion of Vance and Darlene’s property along the south shore of Marcott Lake in 2011.  A culminating step in protecting the core landscape of the Marcott Valley occurred in 2017 when the County acquired a 108-acre conservation easement on the Grannis property with County and State Outdoor Heritage funds as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.  

In 2011 Vance and Darlene founded DarVan Acres Nature Center as a non-profit dedicated to environmental preservation, restoration and education in the Marcott Valley.  Vance is proudly serving as the founding president of DarVan Acres Nature Center.

In 2018 Vance and Darlene acquired property adjacent to the lands under conservation easement that could serve as the future site of the Nature Center buildings. Significant fund raising will be needed to achieve this goal in the future.   

Progress is well underway to preserve and restore the conserved lands.  With the drive and passion of the many volunteers excited to be a part of DarVan Acres Nature Center we are optimistic great things for the environment will be done.  With generous donations in the future we are also optimistic Vance and Darlene’s ultimate vision for the Nature Center can be fulfilled.

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