Scenic Washtenaw County farm now conserved

This scenic landscape near Dexter—a working farm owned by the Sullivan Family—is now permanently protected. Photo by Scott Strodtman.

This scenic landscape near Dexter—a working farm owned by the
Sullivan Family—is now permanently protected. Photo by Scott Strodtman.

An 83-acre farm on Mast Road just north of Dexter is now permanently protected through Washtenaw County’s Natural Areas Preservation Program (NAPP). This farm joins several other conserved properties nearby, helping protect the beautiful agricultural landscape and a strong network of working farms near Dexter.

NAPP protects agricultural lands by purchasing farmland conservation agreements, which allow farms to remain in private production while offering protection from future development. This conservation agreement was funded by Washtenaw County, Webster Township, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS). Legacy provided staffing support through a contract with Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission.

Washtenaw County and Webster Township have voter-approved millages which raise funds for permanent conservation. Because funds from both programs are limited and many landowners have applied, partnerships help stretch public dollars further. Federal grants through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP, a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture) also allow the local programs to work with more farmers than they could otherwise afford.

The Sullivans' now-protected farm scored highly in Washtenaw County’s competitive farmland conservation program because it is adjacent to protected land, has high-quality soil, and was at risk for development, among other factors. Photo by Scott Strodtman.

The Sullivans’ now-protected farm scored highly in Washtenaw County’s competitive farmland conservation program because it is adjacent to protected land, has high-quality soil, and was at risk for development, among other factors. Photo by Scott Strodtman.

“The Washtenaw County farmland preservation program is highly competitive,” said Legacy Land Conservancy Land Protection Manager Robin Burke. “Over 70 farms have applied since the program started in 2011, but there is limited funding and we’re only able to take on 2-4 projects a year. So it’s pretty exciting that this one has come to fruition.”

The property is owned by siblings Brigid, Chris, and Kevin Sullivan, who inherited it from their mother, Agnes Sullivan. The farm grows soy, corn, and wheat in rotation, using no-till practices. It scored highly in Washtenaw County’s competitive program because it is adjacent to protected land, has high-quality soil, and was at risk for development, among other factors.

Thank you to the Sullivans for choosing to conserve their land, and to the voters of Washtenaw County and Webster Township for putting their values into action through the conservation millages that helped make this project possible.

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