Collective connects communities to conservation resources

The Washtenaw County Conservation Collective consists of six local organizations: Washtenaw County Conservation District, River Raisin Watershed Council, Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission, Ann Arbor Greenbelt, Huron River Watershed Council, and Legacy Land Conservancy

Just as the land we work to protect is interdependent on the diverse ecosystems that live and thrive within them, Legacy is made whole through the reciprocity of our relationships, partners, and supporters.

Legacy has built a reputation for partnering with community members and other like-minded organizations to increase the pace of conservation. Much of our land protection success in southern Michigan is the result of informal collaborative partnerships with entities and organizations throughout Washtenaw county, our original service area.

Building on this successful concept, in 2022 we officially joined with five local organizations–Washtenaw County Conservation District, Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, River Raisin Watershed Council, Ann Arbor Greenbelt, and the Huron River Watershed Council–to form the Washtenaw County Conservation Collective.

As a partner, Legacy is part of a cohort of conservation organizations in the County who regularly host informational sessions to encourage and educate landowners on conservation practices and tools. We have participated in presentations to the communities of Northfield Township, Salem Township, Lodi Township, Saline Township, Bridgewater Township, Manchester Township, Sharon Township, and Ypsilanti Township.

This spring, the Collective expanded its services to include a new online tool for landowners helping them find the right resources and to connect with local organizations that can help assess, manage, and preserve their land. Visit to explore the toolkit.

The online toolkit assists landowners with identifying organizations that offer services and programs to meet their goals.  To begin, visitors can select from three broad categories that best align with their main objective:

  • Assess – learn about the current conditions, including plants and animals or build skills (e.g. plant ID) that can be utilized on your land
  • Manage – develop a plan and select techniques and practices to address natural resource concerns or implement desired improvements
  • Preserve – protect natural areas and farmland from development

Land conservation online toolkit. Visit visitors also have the option to take a quiz to match their property location and goals with the programs and services provided by a local organization. [take the quiz to get matched]

Visitors can learn more about the partner organizations who developed the webpages by watching short videos explaining their individual missions and highlighting some of their relevant programs. [watch videos]

Recordings of the Collective’s presentation and a form to request an in-person presentation are available on the website.  In-person presentations are tailored to each specific Township and regularly updated with new information.  Scheduled between November – March of each year, the in-person presentations run about 1.5 hours with additional time to discuss individual properties with representatives from each organization at the conclusion.

Although the group wasn’t formalized until recently, Legacy and our partners have spent years perfecting this type of coordinated outreach. And to its credit, Legacy has seen an influx of interested farmers and landowners join our conservation easement program as a direct result.

With such a great model in place, we’re eager to replicate a similar program in our newer service areas. While it’s years in the making, by mobilizing partnerships to drive community-led support for land protection through township townhall meetings, outreach events, and strategy development with local partner organizations, we’re confident it will inspire a more collaborative approach to conservation outreach in Jackson and Lenawee counties!