Ann Arbor Township Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program close on conservation easement purchase

The Ann Arbor Township Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program recently closed on a conservation easement purchase from Otto and Carolyn Moehrle.

The property is 114.77 acres in size with frontage on the south side of Joy Rd. and both sides of Gleaner Hall Rd.  It is almost entirely prime and locally important agricultural soils with six acres of woods and three acres of wetlands that are headwaters for a branch of Traver Creek.  It is a key piece in the northern tier of protected land in Ann Arbor Township.  The conservation easement ensures that the land will never be developed but it remains in private ownership and is not open to the public.

The Moerhles began assembling their property in 1970 with the purchase of 20 acres.  They added 74 acres in 1973.  The parcel on the east side of Gleaner Hall Road was purchased at auction in 1975.  Otto worked the ground until 1998; it has been leased to local operators since then.

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 Ann Arbor Township, funding support was supplied by the Washtenaw County Natural Area Preservation Program, the Ann Arbor Greenbelt program and the federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.

Ann Arbor Township’s land preservation program is funded by a dedicated millage which voters passed in 2003 with 80% support.  The Township has attracted over $8.3 million of matching funds from other sources, a rate of $2 to $1 of its own.  With this project the Township program has been involved in protecting 1,243 acres, with more projects set to close in the coming months.