Sesquicentennial farm protected forever

A sesquicentennial farm—in the same family for over 150 years—is now permanently protected through Washtenaw County’s Natural Areas Preservation Program (NAPP).

Don Doll next to his Sesquicentennial Farm sign. The Doll family’s deep connection to the farm that has been in their family for over 150 years motivated them to protect it forever. Photo by Larry Doll.

The farm, owned by Donald Doll since 1962, consists of 186 acres of rolling farm fields, forest, and wetlands off Heim Road in Chelsea. He and his late wife Therese raised their six children on the farm. The size of their family is the primary reason Don decided to protect the land. He said, “I kept thinking the farm was going to get split up if it went to six kids. And it would have to be all six; I don’t play favorites. The more I learned about the easement option, the more it seemed like a good solution.”

NAPP protects agricultural lands by purchasing farmland conservation easements, which allow farms to remain in private production while offering protection from future development. Staffing support for the negotiation and completion of this conservation easement was provided by Legacy Land Conservancy through a contract with Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission (WCPARC).

“Legacy Land Conservancy and Washtenaw County share a commitment to protecting local farms,” said Doug Koop, Legacy’s Executive Director.  “Protected land makes our community and environment stronger, especially in light of the recent Census report that Washtenaw County experienced more growth in 2016 than any other southeast Michigan county.”

A large pond on the Doll family’s protected farm in Sylvan Township.

The Doll family farm scored highly in Washtenaw County’s competitive land conservation program because it is adjacent to other protected lands, features high-quality soil, and was at risk for development. The farm connects two existing conservation easements, and the resulting large block of protected land benefits water quality and wildlife habitat. In addition, this property is only a quarter mile from more than 400 additional acres of contiguous protected land, including Goose Lake State Game Area and WCPARC’s Koenn Preserve.

Now that the land is protected, Don—still active at nearly 90 years of age—said good naturedly, “I’d like to see it stay put. And there’s still a lot of work to be done!”

Learn more about Michigan’s Centennial Farm Program.

5 comments on “Sesquicentennial farm protected forever

  1. I think it is so wonderful that this land is protected against development now. Congratulations and thank you Doll family and Legacy Land Conservancy!

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