Natural Areas Preservation Program

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Total Land Protected (2001-present): 9,165 acres

Washtenaw County's Natural Areas Preservation Program (NAPP) purchases unique natural areas to ensure their preservation for the benefit of all County residents, plants, animals and people! The Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission manages the program, identifying and caring for lands with special ecological, recreational, and educational benefits. The NAPP nature preserves are open to the public from dawn until dusk daily.

The program goal is to identify lands which, through long-term preservation, will:

  • Protect and preserve the natural, ecological diversity/heritage of Washtenaw County
  • Complement the existing network of publicly and privately protected lands
  • Maximize the public benefit

We're celebrating 20 years of protecting natural areas!

Program Origin

NAPP was established in 2000 by the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners through the passage of Natural Areas Ordinance No. 128. The ordinance provides procedures and standards for purchase and protection of natural areas by the County. In 2010, voters chose to renew the County-wide, ¼ mill tax that funds the program. Funding will continue through 2021.

Acquisition Process

The process begins when landowners nominate (PDF) their property to the program. Properties recommended by the Agricultural Lands Preservation Advisory Committee (ALPAC) are reviewed by the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission and the Local Unit of Government where the land is located. If the Commission decides to proceed with the acquisition, the landowner will be made an offer at fair market value, as established by a certified appraiser.

Lands purchased with NAPP funds are owned and maintained by the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission. WCPARC also partners with other land preservation organizations to find creative ways to protect and preserve natural areas. For example, in 2003 we partnered with The Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy (SMLC) to add 64 acres to their LeFurge Woods Nature Preserve. NAPP funds purchased a conservation easement on the 64 acres and SMLC owns and maintains the land. If you're interested in the details of all land transactions to date, take a look at the NAPP acquisition history.