The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding over $1 million in funding to partners in the Ann Arbor Greenbelt: Saving Michigan Farms Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Services.
While such an endowment is not a first in the region, it is the first such USDA award that the Greenbelt program has ever received.
"This grant award is indicative of the leadership role the Greenbelt plays in land conservation in our region," says Remy Long, Ann Arbor greenbelt program manager.
The Greenbelt and its local partners will match the grant, which means $2 million will go toward protecting farmland in Washtenaw County and the surrounding Ann Arbor area through conservation easements.
"It is difficult to say how much additional acreage could be protected with these funds, as values differ across the region," Long says. "The partners are committed to leveraging every dollar we can to protect as much land as possible."
To date, the Greenbelt program has protected over 5,200 acres of farmland and open space surrounding Ann Arbor, and has leveraged over $25 million.
Matching funds are often secured through collaboration with other organizations and local, state, and federal agencies.
For several transactions, landowners themselves contributed a portion of the purchase price by selling the development rights at bargain sale prices.
Landowners interested in enrolling their property in a conservation easement should contact the Greenbelt local government partner in their area. Applications are being accepted continuously, with the first funding cycle running from Feb. 11 to March 18.
More information about the Greenbelt is available here.
Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently in based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org