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Ann Arbor – Washtenaw County has been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The national award honors innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.
Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission (WCPARC) purchases ecologically significant natural areas to ensure their preservation for the benefit of all County residents, plants, animals, and people. WCPARC manages the Natural Area Preservation Program (NAPP), identifying and caring for lands with special ecological, recreational, and educational benefits.
In 2018, the Washtenaw County Treasurer and WCPARC partnered to create a new funding mechanism to support the perpetual operation and stewardship of the County’s extensive NAPP program. The County Treasurer manages the investment fund, coordinating with a financial advisor for specialized expertise. She invests in environmentally conscious stocks and green bonds for long-term growth in support of stewardship and sustainability. The special revenue fund, adopted by the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, works like an endowment, providing a permanent source of funding to maintain these preserved natural areas in perpetuity.
Michigan law restricts investment options for public entities’ surplus operating funds but allows
special revenue funds for parks operations and maintenance to be invested like pension funds. Washtenaw County’s NAPP special revenue fund was the first to be created under this provision. The County has since set up a similar fund for WCPARC’s Border to Border Trail.
Catherine McClary, County Treasurer, stated “this has been a fabulous partnership with Parks and Commissioners to use a long-term investment approach for sustaining public natural areas forever. It’s a privilege to be recognized for our work and innovation.”
“We are honored to receive the Sustainable Investments Preserve Natural Areas award on behalf of Washtenaw County residents. Creating the special revenue funds allows us to invest monies and leverage County dollars in a fiscally responsible way for future generations,” said Coy Vaughn, WCPARC Director. Currently, the NAPP program includes 35 Nature Preserves throughout Washtenaw County with new preserves being added every year.
Started in 1970, NACo’s Annual Achievement Awards program is designed to recognize county government innovations. Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide.
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