Exploring Farmland and Natural Areas Preservation in Dexter Township


A field in Dexter Township, along Island Lake Road.

An upcoming event in Dexter Township gives attendees the opportunity to learn about land preservation while celebrating the natural beauty of the community, enjoying fruits from local farms and visiting with neighbors.

Called Exploring Farmland and Natural Areas Preservation in Dexter Township, the event will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 11, at the farm of Jack and Lauren Spack, at 12075 Island Lake Road, right across the street from the Spring Valley Trout Farm.

The event will be a chance to learn more about Open Space and Land Preservation (OSLP) in Dexter Township, what the latest is and what the future might look like.

The township with the expert help of consultant, Barry Lonik, from Treemore Ecology Services, has been able to secure both federal and state grants to help preserve a 70 acre farm as a seed project.

To get a better idea about the event, the Sun Times News (STN) followed up with Laura Sanders, Dexter Township Trustee and Chairperson of the Open Space and Land Preservation Committee for the township.

STN asked why it is important to preserve farmland and natural areas.

Sanders said: “Those of us who have lived in Dexter Township for any amount of time know it is a special place. Whether it’s the abundance of recreation lands, lakes and woods, or the sweeping agricultural landscapes that provide farm fresh produce, or the dark skies and quiet nights, our township is truly “a community for all seasons.” Dexter Township also has a rich farming history and many current, working farms. Conserving land allows for farming to continue, protects wildlife habitat and water quality, maintains scenic views, is good for the climate, and keeps our community from being overrun with development. Land conservation also reduces the impact of fast, unchecked growth by avoiding more taxes for new schools and infrastructure like fire stations and sheriff deputies that come with development. The saying is, “cows don’t go to school and cornfields (or woodlots!) don’t call 911”. Residential development pressure is a constant. Those same lands and landscapes that we treasure are also prime targets for new subdivisions. Landowners are frequently contacted about selling their property. Without an alternative, at some point they may have to submit to developers to get a fair price. But there is an alternative and we want the public to learn about it.”

STN: What is this event all about and what should the community know about OSLP?

Sanders: “The EXPLORING FARMLAND & NATURAL AREAS PRESERVATION IN DEXTER TOWNSHIP, event is to educate the public about farmland and natural areas preservation through creating a PDR – Purchase of Development Rights program for Dexter Township. This program would offer an option to farmers and private owners of large swaths of natural lands to sell their development rights to the township to preserve the land in perpetuity through a conservation easement. The land can still be sold or leased for farming and other agricultural and natural pursuits but cannot be developed for residential subdivisions. The development rights would be purchased by Dexter Township through combining matching grants from federal, state and county conservation programs, coordinated by a conservation expert. There is an application and eligibility review process that will be provided by an appointed Open Space and Land Preservation Board of Dexter Township residents, guided by Ordinance 37 of the township.

Webster, Scio, and Ann Arbor Townships all have similar programs and have already preserved over 5,000 acres of land. These programs are best supported by a moderate millage. Residents of Dexter Township will have the opportunity to vote on whether they want to take this step through Proposal A, which will be on the ballot in November. Proposal A will ask voters to approve 0.5 mils to raise about $220,800 in the first year, for a 10-year period to preserve the farmland and natural beauty of Dexter Township. The surrounding township of Northfield is also proposing a new millage for land preservation this November, and Scio Township is proposing to renew their already existing millage.”

STN: What should attendees expect?

Sanders: The event on September 11 is for residents to learn more about this initiative, hear from preservation experts and local farmers, and to honor the contributions and history of farmers in Dexter Township. Exploring Farmland and Natural Areas Preservation in Dexter Township is free to the public, sponsored by the Open Space and Land Preservation Committee of Dexter Township, and will take place on the farm of Jack Spack and Lauren Kingsley, on Sunday, September 11, from 3:00-5:00 in the afternoon. The address is 12075, Island Lake Rd, Dexter (across the street from the Trout Farm.) We encourage all Dexter Township residents and those from surrounding areas to come learn more about land preservation on a beautiful farm. There will be brief presentations, snacks from local farms and businesses, music, and a festive vibe to the event. We hope to see a great turn-out for this informative and fun time.

For more information, contact Laura Sanders, Chairperson of the OSLP Committee at lsanders@dextertownship.org.

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