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Join us and our collaborators in enhancing our beautiful space with the addition of this incredible bronze Trail Marker Tree created by Dennis Downes.


We were honored to have Dennis and Gail visit Bluestem Meadow this summer!

Collaborating with Dennis and his team has been a wonderful experience.

We were all so appreciative of his constant support and enthusiasm for our vision. 

Your Generosity, Your Legacy

Below are the current needs to buy and install the sculpture at Bluestem Meadow. As we are now a 501(3)(c), you can make tax deductible donations directly to Bluestem Meadow - see our Donating page for more info. We are also collaborating with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians who will provide an interpretation piece for the sculpture upon installation. 


Total Project Costs: $80,000

labyrinth 3.HEIC

Fundraising to Date: $72,675


Deadline: June 2024

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What is a Trail Marker Tree?

Trail Marker Trees were used as an ancient form of land and water navigational aids, as well as a marking system to denote areas of significant importance such as ceremonial sites. These trees were first used by many Indigenous tribes while later by fur traders and early pioneers. The Trail Marker Trees differed in appearance and formation both regionally and from tribe to tribe. Examples of these trees have been found across the United States and throughout Canada. Dennis Downes was first introduced to Trail Marker Trees as a young boy and was influenced by his own Indigenous lineage; later following in the footsteps of Dr. Raymond Janssen.

We hope this sculpture will honor the culture of the local tribe with this incredible portrayal of these historic trees, as well as serve as a meaningful symbol for all who visit seeking to "find their way."   

This structure would be installed along the pathway to mark the trail towards the labyrinth for visitors of Bluestem Meadow. 

Dennis Downes

Dennis Downes was an award winning and highly respected artist who had dedicated his life to researching, educating, and sculpting trail marker trees. His bronze works are notable for their high degree of realism. He was very enthusiastic about installing this piece at the Viewlands as it “fit” his vision of where these works would culturally and naturally reside. He is seen above alongside the Trail Marker Tree sculpture. It was first sculpted with clay which was then turned into a mold and cast in solid bronze. After being cast in bronze, Dennis, always the perfectionist, would go back over the sculpture ensuring there are highlights and everything was exactly as he wanted it. Lastly, he personally applied patina to perfect the piece.

More information
about this Project:

  • The sculpture is bronze.

  • It is approximately 7.5 feet tall, with a range of diameter from 16 inches to 30 inches, with a base of the sculpture approximately 48 inches by 28 inches.

  • Installation will be on cement with a soil berm and plants, making it look very natural so that you cannot see the concrete base.

  • All donations are tax deductible through our 501(3)(c) status. 

  • This trail marker tree will be installed to mark the path to the Bluestem Meadow labyrinth at the Offield Family Viewlands.

  • All donations will be used towards the immediate and long term stewardship needs of the project. 

Donate Today!

We can't wait to have this special piece at Bluestem Meadow, marking the way toward the labyrinth. If you would like to donate, please see the Donating page or click the button below. Contact if you have any questions or would like to donate through transfer of funds or stocks.

We are proud to be working with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and
Little Traverse Conservancy on this unique project.

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