Sen. Richardville promotes Michigan Conservation Week and land preservation legislation at historic farmland property
LANSING--Sen. Randy Richardville today promoted legislation that will help preserve more land in Michigan at the kick-off event for the second annual Michigan Conservation Week. In partnership with the Washtenaw Land Trust, co-owners Joan Geddes Rose and Carole Geddes-Engel hosted the event on their family’s historic farm.
To help promote the importance of conservation, the state Senate has designated April 20-26 as Michigan Conservation Week with an emphasis on land preservation efforts.
“Throughout Conservation Week, the Michigan Senate will focus on how land conservancies, communities and businesses can preserve land,” said Richardville, R-Monroe. “One of Michigan’s largest natural resource challenges is the loss of farmland and open space. We must work together to protect land that has agricultural, recreational, scenic and historic value.”
Senate Bill 1257, sponsored by Richardville, would help increase available funds used to purchase and develop recreational land through the Natural Resources Trust Fund. Other legislation would provide an income tax credit for the voluntary donation of land or land rights and create a tax incentive for businesses to make conservation donations.
Rose and Geddes-Engel donated 17 acres of their family homestead to the Washtenaw Land Trust so its beauty and history could be enjoyed for generations to come.
“This property is dearly loved by Carole and me,” said Rose. “We have long been of like mind that we would want to preserve the rural character of this property if at all possible. Besides being part of an operating sesquicentennial farm, this property gives space for wildlife in an area that is being rapidly developed.”
The property was protected through the sale of its development rights to the Washtenaw Land Trust in 2004. Worth far more than the $50,000 Rose and Geddes-Engel accepted for the conservation easement, the agreement restricts the land’s future use to agriculture or open space.
“Michigan Conservation Week is a great opportunity to celebrate the local natural areas, farmland, and open spaces that make Michigan such a great place,” said Sue Lackey, the executive director of the Washtenaw Land Trust. “We are pleased to do our part to help protect farms, forests, riverbanks, and other important lands for future generations.”
For the past five years, the Michigan Senate has led the way on natural resource initiatives, including current ballast water laws; adoption of the Great Lakes Compact and accompanying water withdrawal legislation; and renewable energy measures.
“The Senate recognizes the need to preserve our state’s natural resources and has helped pass significant laws that provide greater protection as well as access to them,” said Richardville. “Michigan is fortunate to have individuals like Joan and Carole and organizations, such as the Washtenaw Land Trust, that are doing their part to ensure we can enjoy our state’s natural resources now and in the future.”
Through the efforts of Michigan land conservancies, more than 400,000 acres of shoreline, forests, unique agricultural land, and other special land areas have been protected. In Washtenaw County, land conservation programs safeguarded a record 1,720 acres in 2007.
“Conservation Week provides a great opportunity to highlight the important work of Michigan’s nonprofit land conservancies,” said Rachel Kuntzsch, executive director of Heart of the Lakes Center for Land Conservation Policy. “Land conservancies play an important role in partnering with state and local government in their land protection efforts. We are pleased to support bipartisan legislation recently introduced in the House and Senate which would create tax credits to further encourage land conservation.”
Michigan’s land-based industries, including agriculture, tourism, forestry and mining, account for more than 17 percent of Michigan’s yearly economic output.
For more information about Michigan Conservation Week, visit www.senate.michigan.gov/conservation.
Editor's Note: A photo of today's kick-off event will be available later this afternoon at www.senate.michigan.gov/photowire.asp?District=17.
Posted: Friday, April 18, 2008
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