Mission and History

Mission and History

MISSION

Legacy’s mission is to secure for current and future generations a land base for nature, agriculture, fresh water and recreation in Washtenaw and Jackson Counties and beyond. The staff partners to advance the strategic plan, including a goal set in 2008 to protect 25,000 acres of the most important lands in Washtenaw and Jackson Counties. These counties lie at the heart of the “Emerald Arc,” a swath of protected land surrounding the population centers of Southern Michigan. Throughout the Arc are found some of America’s most productive farmland, as well as lakes and rivers that impact water quality in the entire Great Lakes Basin. Working with our partners and with the community, Legacy is committed to ensuring that future generations enjoy the clean water, fresh food, scenic rural heritage, and peaceful recreational opportunities that have characterized Washtenaw and Jackson counties for generations.

HISTORY

Founded in 1971, Legacy Land Conservancy is Michigan’s oldest organization dedicated to the voluntary conservation of locally important land. Legacy is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works with individuals, landowners, organizations, and local government to protect forests, prairies, farms, wetlands, and waters. Legacy enjoys a nearly 50-year record of protecting the beautiful places and unique character of southern Michigan.

In 1971, faced with growing concerns about the potential for development of land along the Huron River, a group of Ann Arbor leaders banded together as the Washtenaw Land Conservancy to acquire land along the river and keep it in public trust.  Their work produced such community gems as the Osborne Mills Riverlands Preserve, Black Pond Woods, and parts of Bandemer Park and Bird Hills Nature Area.  In 1989, the Potawatomi Land Trust was formed to focus on the protection of farmland. In 1999, Washtenaw Land Conservancy and Potawatomi Land Trust merged to form Washtenaw Land Trust. In 2008, the Land Trust took steps to formally extend its service area throughout Jackson County. This action was a response to increased landowner interest, and represented a recognition that Jackson County possesses some of the world’s rarest natural areas, worthy of a concentrated land-protection effort. The organization acted to reflect this new reality by changing its name to Legacy Land Conservancy. Shortly thereafter, Legacy became one of the first accredited land trusts in the nation. This accreditation is a testament to nearly 50 years of voluntary conservation, supported by our extended community, and adhering to a set of standards designed to help guarantee that our work will endure forever. Legacy was reaccredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission in 2014 and again, in 2020.

Legacy Land Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) organization, and a member of the Land Trust Alliance and Heart of the Lakes.

THE EMERALD ARC

“Make no small plans, for they have not the power to move men’s souls.”…Daniel Burnham

In 2008, Legacy Land Conservancy set a goal of protecting 25,000 acres of the most important lands in Washtenaw and Jackson Counties. These counties lie at the heart of the “Emerald Arc,” a swath of protected land surrounding the population centers of Southern Michigan. Throughout the Arc are found some of America’s most productive farmland, as well as lakes and rivers that impact water quality in the entire Great Lakes Basin.

Legacy’s Strategic Plan

In 2008, Legacy Land Conservancy adopted a strategic vision for the land conservation it would undertake. This vision is supported by a strategic plan, updated regularly, that sets out the broad focus for the organization. Your thoughts are appreciated. Contact info@legacylandconservancy.org or 734-302-5263.

2 comments on “Mission and History

  1. Hi, I’m completely new to your organization, having only heard it mentioned on my local NPR station just now. We just moved back to the area a year ago.
    I’m quite interested in land conservation, and so love what your organization is doing. I have a question: I see that you mention farmland, lakes and rivers specifically in your description of the “Emerald Basin.” (Great name, by the way!) I’m wondering how much attention saving forests, particularly large tractates of old-growth forests, Legacy is able to devote at this time.

    • Hi Aura, Welcome back to the area and we are glad you found us! While there aren’t any old growth forests that we know of in our service area, there are some mature forests and we definitely conserve them for wildlife habitat, climate resiliency, and as part of our water quality protection. Many of our farmland tracts also have forested portions as well. We would say at least 90% of our future new projects have some forestland aspect. We also actively manage our preserves, all of which contain forests, in order to improve their health. Feel free to email slacroix@legacylandconservancy.org for more information on this topic.

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