February 26, 2020 - Great strides are being made in land preservation in southeast Michigan. Recent efforts from two Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) initiatives have resulted in securing a total of $2.8 million, which is matched by local conservation funds 1:1, bringing the total for RCPP-supported conservation efforts up to $5.6 million over five years.
Today, the RCPP partners are announcing that nearly all the funds from both RCPP awards have been allocated to conservation projects in Washtenaw County. Initially, the partners aimed to preserve a total of 740 acres of land. However, it is now anticipated that more than 1,000 acres will be preserved by the time the two RCPP awards are fully utilized. This substantial increase represents the strategic coordination of the conservation partners, as well as increased interest in preservation by private landowners in the region.
“Securing and spending these funds effectively, quickly and strategically is a testament to the excellent collaborations between the conservation groups in the Huron River watershed and Washtenaw County," said Diana Kern, Legacy Land Conservancy's executive director. “This region has a lot of landowners seeking preservation options for their property. These RCPP funds incentivized local conservation groups to develop a more cohesive strategy for land preservation in the watershed and county. It helped increase the pace of our collective work."
“We appreciate NRCS's leadership and Michigan's congressional delegation's support for farmland preservation in southeast Michigan," said Remy Long of The Conservation Fund, who manages the Greenbelt Program for the City of Ann Arbor. “We look forward to continuing our land preservation efforts in partnership with NRCS."
In 2017, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided over $1.8 million in funding through the RCPP to fuel the work of regional conservation partners in the Huron River watershed. In 2018, the City of Ann Arbor Greenbelt Program and several regional conservation partners secured an additional $1 million in USDA RCPP funding to boost farmland preservation efforts in the region.
The majority of the land preservation work accomplished through these RCPP awards has utilized USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Agricultural Land Easement (ACEP-ALE) funding. While the majority of the ACEP-ALE funds for both RCPP initiatives have already been allocated, the deadline for the final round is March 13, 2020. RCPP funding is still available for USDA-NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and applications are accepted on a rolling basis through your local NRCS office.
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About the Huron River Initiative RCPP Project:
The Huron River watershed is home to over half a million people who rely on the river for clean drinking water, tourism, and recreation opportunities. The Huron River Initiative partnership is designed to keep the river healthy by preserving natural and agricultural land in the river's headwaters and by applying land use practices that protect water quality. The partnership focuses on the upper portion of the watershed, from just upstream of Ann Arbor to the headwaters in White Lake. Thus this project affects most of the water upstream of Barton Pond, the city of Ann Arbor's drinking water source.
Legacy Land Conservancy (Legacy) is the lead organizer for the Huron River Initiative RCPP. Legacy is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects the forests, prairies, wetlands, farmland and rivers in southern Michigan, focusing on Washtenaw and Jackson counties. Legacy is Michigan's oldest local nonprofit land conservancy, working with landowners, organizations and local government entities to permanently protect land. Since its founding in 1971, Legacy has helped to protect over 9,300 acres of land, including seven nature preserves that are open for all to enjoy. To date, Legacy has played a leading or facilitating role in more than 140 regional protection projects over its 48-year history. Legacy is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission for adhering to a set of standards designed to ensure Legacy's work will endure forever. For more information, visit www.legacylandconservancy.org.
Other Huron River Initiative RCPP partners include: Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, Webster Township, Ducks Unlimited, Huron River Watershed Council, Six Rivers Land Conservancy and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Please direct any questions about the Huron River Initiative RCPP to Susan LaCroix (Legacy) at 734.780.6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Ann Arbor Greenbelt: Saving Michigan Farms RCPP Project:
Located near the struggling Western Lake Erie Basin and southeast Michigan's rapidly growing Ann Arbor/Detroit metropolitan areas, the Ann Arbor Greenbelt: Saving Michigan Farms RCPP project provides an opportunity to protect agricultural lands key to food security and the local economies; preserve the agricultural heritage and quality of life of residents; and combat resource concerns of water quality degradation, soil quality degradation and inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife.
The City of Ann Arbor Open Space and Parkland Preservation Program (Greenbelt) is the lead organizer for Ann Arbor Greenbelt: Saving Michigan Farms RCPP. The Greenbelt is an innovative land preservation program that has protected over 6,000 acres of farmland and open space surrounding the city of Ann Arbor, and has leveraged over $25 million through grants, landowner donations and other locally funded programs. The Greenbelt's leadership in this RCPP is emblematic of their commitment to strategic partnerships and land preservation in the Ann Arbor area.
Other Ann Arbor Greenbelt: Saving Michigan Farms RCPP partners include: Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, Scio Township, Ann Arbor Township, Augusta Township, Legacy Land Conservancy, Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy, The Conservation Fund and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Please direct any questions about the Ann Arbor Greenbelt: Saving Michigan Farms RCPP to Remy Long (Greenbelt) at 734.794.6210 ext. 42798 or email@example.com.