The Webster Township Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program recently closed on a conservation easement purchase from Base Lake Farm LLC.
The property is over 30 acres in size with frontage on the south side of Strawberry Lake Rd. It is covered in mature oak-hickory forest and is adjacent to the University of Michigan Sail Club property. The conservation easement ensures that the land will never be developed but it remains in private ownership and is not open to the public.
Bill Brinkerhoff and Kathy Sample, members of the Base Lake Farm LLC, purchased the 258 acre farm at 7861 Strawberry Lake Rd. in 2015. Bill’s family has had a cottage on nearby Baseline Lake for decades, and have long admired the beautiful rolling hills and woods. The farm was once owned by Carl Rosenfeld, who supplied beef for the noted Detroit restaurant Carl’s Chop House. Bill and Kathy have been restoring the houses and farm buildings and the fields are being converted to sustainable agriculture methods in conjunction with John Cox, a grass fed beef producer, who is raising cattle on the farm. It is their hope to protect the vast majority of the property with conservation easements; this easement is the first step in that process.
Conservation easements are permanent deed restrictions on the use of a property. Purchasing easements costs less than buying the property, and keeps the property on the tax rolls and contributing to the local economy.
In addition to Webster Township, funding support was supplied by the Washtenaw County Natural Area Preservation Program.
Webster Township’s land preservation program is funded by a dedicated millage which voters passed initially in 2005 and renewed twice, all by large margins. The Township has attracted over $11.6 million of matching funds from other sources, a rate of over $5 to $1 of its own. With this project the Township program has been involved in protecting 2,046 acres, with more projects set to close in the coming months.