News Flash

Parks & Rec - News

Posted on: November 12, 2020

From the Director - Natural Areas Preservation Program Millage Renewal

Watkins Lake Scenic

ANN ARBOR, MI – Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission (WCPARC) would like to thank the voters of Washtenaw County for supporting the Natural Areas Preservation Program (NAPP) Millage. This marks the second time the voters approved the renewal of the millage and with a record of 72% voter support! This is a clear endorsement of the positive impact our natural areas have on our community and the outstanding work our staff does every day to plan, preserve, and care for these important properties.

In the last ten years, the NAPP Millage has helped WCPARC leverage nearly $18.8 million in funding for land preservation through grants, private donations, and local partnerships, resulting in over 9,000 acres of protected land (about 14 square miles, or half the size of Ann Arbor)! This land includes:

  • 34 Preserves; open to the public
  • 24 Conservation Easements; protecting active farmland on private property
  • 40+ Miles of Hiking Trails

In addition to land preservation, NAPP’s stewardship staff, with the help of a robust volunteer base, helps maintain the preserves by removing invasive species and inventorying plants and wildlife on the properties. Furthermore, Washtenaw County Parks Naturalists offer free public education programs at many of our preserves that are consistently attended by members of the community.

There is still ecologically valuable land in Washtenaw County that needs protection. The national average of protected land area is 14%-17% and the international global goal is 30%, but about 10% of Washtenaw County is protected. Fortunately, 2020 saw the greatest number of applications to NAPP since 2012. NAPP’s spatial analysis tool, the 2015 Natural Areas and Agricultural Land Assessment and Prioritization Mapping project, also highlights thousands of acres of high quality ecological and agricultural land that would benefit from protection. The funds from the NAPP millage renewal will help WCPARC meet the demand and protect this additional prioritized land.  Moving forward, WCPARC will be encouraging applications from landowners with ecologically valuable land in areas of the County that have seen less NAPP activity, to promote a more equal geographic distribution of land protection. 

To cover future stewardship of WCPARC’s ever-growing collection of nature preserves, the Parks Commission and Board of Commissioners approved the establishment of a Special Revenue Fund in 2018.  These invested funds will be able to grow over the next 10 years, so Parks has a sustainable source of funding for the management of these properties in perpetuity.

Millages are a crucial part of our organization, but it is not without the support of our community and local and state partnerships that allow us to continue to implement our mission for the benefit of all County residents, plants, animals and people. And, once again, I would like to thank you for supporting Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission, and our Natural Areas Preservation Program. 

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Coy Vaughn
Director, Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission
[email protected]
734-971-6337

Photo Credit: Bryan Mitchell

Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission

The Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, founded in 1973, currently manages 14 parks and 33 nature preserves totaling more than 6,000 acres. Washtenaw County Parks provides recreational and nature-based programming. Visit us at washtenaw.org/parks on Facebook and Instagram, or call 734-971-6337.  

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