SHARON TWP., MICH – Legacy Land Conservancy has permanently protected 53 acres of agricultural land and wildlife habitats within the Sharon Short Hills area of western Washtenaw County.
The landowner—who wishes to remain anonymous—is pleased to protect their property’s highly valuable natural areas, hunting resources, and retreat-like qualities through a conservation easement with Legacy, which offers permanent protection to privately owned land.
The property, located within the Huron River watershed, contains gently rolling hills, a spring-fed lake that flows to a creek, and multiple wetland areas, all surrounded by oak-hickory forest. The topography and variety of ecosystems add to its “climate resiliency,” its ability to adapt to the stressors of climate change.
Preservation of this property adds to an existing 187-acre natural “greenway” in the Sharon Short Hills area, benefiting water quality and providing wildlife habitat. Most notably, it helps connect wildlife habitat between two Washtenaw County preserves. Although the property is not open to the public, it ensures that area wildlife have more contiguous habitat to thrive in.
Because the property’s emergent marsh, riverine and shrub wetlands, and associated forested uplands provide valuable habitat for a variety of migratory birds, including Henslow’s sparrow, Marsh Wren, Black-crowned Night Heron, Hooded Warbler, and Bobolink, the project was partially funded by the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) through the Saginaw Bay to Lake Erie Coastal Wetland Habitat Project, administered by Ducks Unlimited. NAWCA funds land protection and habitat restoration and enhancement projects across North America to benefit migratory birds. These projects also benefit many other wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, and people.
“More than 3 million waterfowl annually migrate through or breed in the Great Lakes region and many of them depend on the corridor of fragmented habitat that extends from Saginaw Bay to Western Lake Erie” Kali Rush, Ducks Unlimited Michigan Regional Biologist, said. “Conservation of tracts of land that connect existing natural infrastructure help to prevent future fragmentation and ensure habitat for the birds forever. This easement is a great example of an inland forested wetland that can provide brood rearing habitat for ducks”.
In addition to NAWCA funding attained in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, Legacy worked with the Carls Foundation and other private entities to secure the other funding sources to purchase the conservation easement from the landowner. It is the fourth property permanently protected in a five-project effort generously funded through a grant with the Carls Foundation.
“The Carls Foundation has been a strong supporter of our work and we’re so grateful for their dedication to conservation and land protection here in southern Michigan. It’s with their vision and leadership that we’ve been able to protect this property, and more than 250 acres total across four projects since 2017” Diana Kern, Legacy Executive Director said.
About Legacy Land Conservancy: Founded in 1971 as Michigan’s first local land trust, Legacy is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects land in southern Michigan. Legacy’s mission is to secure for current and future generations a land base for nature, agriculture, fresh water, and recreation in Jackson and Washtenaw counties and beyond. Legacy has helped to protect more than 9,000 acres of land (including seven nature preserves open for all to enjoy) that enhance our community’s quality of place by safeguarding water quality, conserving working farms, and protecting places to play. In a testament to 50 years of successful voluntary conservation, Legacy is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission for adhering to a set of standards designed to ensure the organization’s work will endure forever. Legacy is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For more information, visit www.legacylandconservancy.org.
About Ducks Unlimited: Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest private wetlands and waterfowl conservation organization, with more than a million supporters and more than 14 million acres conserved across North America. Its biologists combine biological and administrative expertise in the planning and delivery of on-the-ground habitat restoration projects. Its engineers are respected for their expertise, innovation, and efficiency when developing restoration plans, working in concert with our biological staff to provide cutting-edge engineering services to assist with habitat-based project designs. For more information, visit www.ducks.org
About the North American Wetlands Conservation Act: NAWCA, or the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, was passed in 1989 to protect, restore, and enhance wetland habitats for birds. NAWCA is part of a federal program offered through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. It provides matching grants to wetlands conservation projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. NAWCA supports activities under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, an international agreement that provides a strategy for the long-term protection of wetlands and associated uplands habitats needed by waterfowl and other migratory birds in North America. In the past three decades, NAWCA has funded over 3,100 projects totaling over $1.9 billion in grants. More than 6,500 partners have contributed another $3.9 billion in matching funds to affect 31.5 million acres of habitat. For more information, visit https://www.fws.gov/birds/grants/north-american-wetland-conservation-act.php
About the Saginaw Bay to Lake Erie Coastal Habitat Project: The Saginaw Bay to Lake Erie Coastal Habitat Project is a $3 million effort lead by Ducks Unlimited and its conservation partners to improve or protect 4,081 acres on 15 habitat projects. The focus area is on the 22 coastal zone counties associated with Saginaw Bay and western Lake Erie in Michigan, and includes Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River. For more information, visit HERE