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SG-W:/ PDR funds for MI & Washtenaw



This press release from American Farmland Trust was a pleasant surprise.
Some of the federal PDR money is coming to our area through the
Washtenaw Land Trust.

Congrats to Bill Hanson and WLT for successfully tapping one of the few
trickles in this drought of federal funding for environmental
protection.

Combined with the natural areas funds for the county, this should
provide an important balance for our land preservation efforts by
preserving local farmland.

Steve


Michigan receives federal funds for protecting farmland and for Wetland
Preserve Program

EAST LANSING, Mich., Sept. 10, 2002 -- Michigan is slated to receive
$2,131,600
for farmland protection and $10 million for the state's Wetland Preserve

Program (WRP), Agricultural Secretary Ann Veneman announced Sept. 6.

All five of the Michigan entities that applied for funding will receive
money, including the State of Michigan, Grand Traverse Regional Land
Conservancy, Little Traverse, Washtenaw Land Trust, Leelanau
Conservancy,
according to James Marshall, Farmland Protection Program coordinator for
the
Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). "I'm currently working
with
those entities to verify their applications and prepare for
disbursements."

Michigan was seventh highest for most funds awarded and will receive
almost
four timeswhat it did last year. "We're moving up," Marshall said.
"Folks
in Washington are beginning to understand that Michigan is really primed
to
deliver an extremely viable farmland protection program for easement
acquisitions."

The state program, which will receive the bulk of the money, has
earmarked
the funds for conservation easements on six parcels for 1,350 protected
acres, according to Rich Harlow, program manager for Michigan's Farmland
and
Open Space Preservation Program at the Michigan Department of
Agriculture
(MDA).

"Because of federal funds, we're able to leverage state dollars to move
applications forward quicker," Harlow said. "We will be working with
those
land owners to establish consent agreements before the first of the
year."

If easements are obtained onall six parcels, the MDA will have
permanently
protected just over half of the12 farms identified as candidates
following
the 2000 application cycle. Thestate has already purchased an easement
on a
farm in Washtenaw County. Thestate has received $2.03 million in
previous FPP
grant cycles for purchase of development rights.

To date, the state holds 58 agricultural conservation easements and has
protected 13,900 acres from development. Through the national Farmland
Protection Program, $48 million will allow USDA to enter into agreements
with
states, tribes, local governments and nonprofit organizations -- such as
land
trusts and land resource conservation councils -- to protect productive
farmland through the purchase of conservation easements. USDA provides
up to
50 percent of the appraised fair market value of the conservation
easement.

Federal funding was disbursed relatively evenly over 32 states, with
Pennsylvania receiving the most at $2.7 million. Maryland received $2.5
million and California got $2.3 million.

Through WRP, approximately $275 million will enable NRCS to enroll up to

250,000 acres into the program. WRP funding ranged from zero to the $27
million awarded to Florida. California and Arkansas were next with $24.6
and
$21 million, respectively. Landowners who have already submitted WRP
applications to the local NRCS office will be notified when funds are
available for their projects

Marshall says that Michigan's federal funding opportunities will
increase next
year."This is just the tip of the iceberg for what we may be eligible
for,"
he said."The new farm bill expands eligible recipients beyond just
non-profits. Any entity with the statutory authority to take and hold
conservation easements andhave the mechanism and the staff to do it,
will be
able to apply. I anticipate a much bigger list (of applicants) given the

amount of interest we're seeing at the county level."

According to Scott Everett, director of American Farmland Trust's
Central
Great Lakes Region, there are about a dozen communities that are
reaching the
end stages in the process of developing local farmland protection
programs.
AFT helps provide technical assistance to communities to develop
programs.
"Protecting farmland is a good economic value for a community to invest
in,"
he said. "It requires few of the services that residential development
does;
you don't have to pave the roads, extend sewer lines or build new
schools, and
yet it is a constant property tax contributor. It is encouraging to see
Michigan getting a larger piece of the pie and this announcement comes
at a
key time when we're about to gather as many as 500 people interested in
land
use and farmland protection together for a statewide conference."

The conference, titled Michigan's Farmland Protection Agenda is Sept. 28
at the
Radisson Hotel in Lansing. A $35 registration fee is due by Sept. 25.
For more
information, call Dawn at (517) 324-9276 or download an invitation and
RSVP
card at <A
HREF="http://www.farmland.org/cgl/mich_ultimate_fpp.htm";>http://www.farmland.org/cgl/mich_ultimate_fpp.htm</A>






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