Webster Twp Completes Land Preservation Project
From Barry Lonik
The Webster Township Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program recently closed on a conservation easement purchase from Stillwood Farm LLC.
The property is just shy of 119 acres in size with frontage on the south side of Gregory Rd. It features over 90 acres of prime and locally important agricultural soils with 20 acres of woods and six acres of wetlands. Combined with other protected land, the property is part of a block totaling over 700 acres just north of the City of Dexter. 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 Amsdill family bought their farm in 1950. It was a very basic farm with grade b milk can operation. They started upgrades with the barn first and redid the milking floor with glass pipeline, bulk tank and gutter cleaner. They had a silo unloader, kicker baler and other labor-saving systems. Through artificial breeding they developed one of the top Holstein herds in the State of Michigan. The family has a love of the farm and the land and want to keep it a farm. Conservancy was the path for that, and what their parents would have chosen.
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’s dedicated land preservation millage, funding support was supplied by the Washtenaw County Natural Area Preservation Program, the State of Michigan Agricultural Preservation Fund and the federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. Webster’s share was 10% of the appraised value purchase price.
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 $13 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 2,459 acres, with more projects set to close in the coming months.