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ANN ARBOR, MI – This year marks the 20th anniversary of Washtenaw County’s Natural Area Preservation Program (NAPP) Millage! Since funding for the program was initially approved by Washtenaw County residents in 2000, NAPP has protected over 9,000 acres of land in the County and continues to have strong interest from landowners wanting to protect their properties.
Thanks to the funding, NAPP has established 34 nature preserves with over 40 miles of nature trails. These community resources exploded with use as friends and family sought opportunities to safely recreate and find reprieve during the pandemic. The program also funds agricultural preservation through the purchase of conservation easements, which remain in private ownership. In these instances, landowners continue to farm the property, with restrictions on the land to protect the soils for future generations of farmers. One of the greatest successes of the program is the recent establishment of the stewardship special revenue fund. These set aside, invested funds will cover future stewardship of the lands, ensuring the preserves are open and safe for public access in perpetuity.
Even though the program has had many successes to date, there is still much work to be done in the County to preserve the rural character and vast natural resources here. We have completed a GIS assessment of the county to identify areas of high-quality land yet to be protected, and corridors to provide connectivity between lands protected. There are also geographic areas in the County where NAPP is just gaining momentum with new opportunities for preservation.
This November, residents of Washtenaw County will be asked to renew and restore the NAPP Millage. With its renewal, the funds generated will be allocated to purchase and steward/maintain/manage unique natural areas and ensure their preservation for the benefit of all County residents, plants, animals and people. This money will be administered by Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission and invested into our natural areas, to:
• Protect and preserve the natural, ecological diversity/heritage of Washtenaw County
• Complement the existing network of publicly and privately protected lands
• Maximize the public benefit
This millage is the largest source of local funding for land conservation and is an essential part of our organization. If you would like more resources and information on how we have used and will use this one, visit this link.
Coy VaughnDirector, Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission[email protected]734-971-6337
The Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, founded in 1973, currently manages 14 parks and 33 nature preserves totaling more than 6,000 acres. Washtenaw County Parks provides recreational and nature-based programming. Visit us at washtenaw.org/parks on Facebook and Instagram, or call 734-971-6337.