With the recent completion of land conservation projects, Legacy—Michigan’s oldest regional land trust—has been directly involved over our 48-year history in protecting a total of 9,040 acres of land in southern Michigan, primarily in Jackson and Washtenaw counties.
This milestone was reached through finalizing three separate agreements with private land owners in late 2018. Legacy’s conservation efforts safeguard fresh water, protect wildlife habitat and recreational lands, and preserve the agricultural heritage and economic impact of local working farms.
Two of the recent projects illustrate Legacy’s focus on protecting land affecting water quality in the region’s watersheds. Grant support from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality underscores the importance of fresh water protection in the Great Lakes, and helped to fund two of the recent conservation agreements, one in the River Raisin watershed and one in the Upper Grand River watershed.
The first project protected 63 acres in Jackson County’s Norvell Township containing headwaters of the River Raisin and frontage on Vineyard Lake. Funding from The Carls Foundation helped Legacy to complete the transaction, which also involved a partial donation from the land owner. The property is located very near to Camp O’ the Hills, a 105-acre Girl Scout camp on Wamplers Lake that Legacy protected in August 2018.
Another project in the same watershed is comprised of 80 acres of restored farmland in Washtenaw County’s Manchester Township that contains dry-mesic and wet-mesic prairie, forested wetlands, and open water. The conservation easement on this property was donated by the land owner.
The third project is a part of a growing network of lands protected by Legacy and other partners highlighting the importance of protecting small streams that feed into the Upper Grand River. Land owners recently donated a conservation easement on eight acres in Jackson County’s Waterloo Township along Trist Mill Pond, which empties into Trist Mill Creek. This project is adjacent to Waterloo State Recreation Area, where Legacy has long been active in conservation projects.
Throughout the region, landowners have worked with Legacy Land Conservancy to protect land that is important to the community because of its scenic or recreational value or in order to conserve working farms and natural areas and safeguard watersheds. Private, voluntary agreements with local land trusts permanently limit uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. Lands placed into conservation easements remain privately owned and can continue to be farmed, hunted or used for other specified purposes. The lands also remain on county tax rolls, strengthening local economies.
The headwaters of four major rivers rise in Legacy Land Conservancy’s service area and flow to Lake Michigan or Lake Erie. What happens on the land in these watersheds carries impact for drinking water, wildlife, agriculture, and recreation/tourism in the Great Lakes Basin. Shoreline conversations are captured on a new video that Legacy recently released; these conversations reveal how protecting land with Legacy safeguards water quality in our region and beyond. The video, “Love Water. Protect Land,” can be viewed by clicking here.