Ann Arbor Greenbelt Initiative
Kensington Metro Park in Ann Arbor. Photo by beckstei/Flickr
Did You Know?
- By 2050, 85% of the population in the United States will live in urban areas.
- Ann Arbor Greenbelt Initiative protects and links city parks, natural areas and working farms.
- Since 2005, more than 40 properties, totaling more than 4,200 acres of active farmland and open space, have been protected through this initiative.
- About 60% of landowners have used the proceeds from the purchase of development rights to purchase additional farmland to expand their agriculture operations.
We’re helping to implement the Ann Arbor Greenbelt Initiative, a far-reaching project designed to protect and link city parks, natural areas and working farms throughout the city, while curbing the growth and effects of sprawl.
For a relatively small city, Ann Arbor is a happening place—urbane and collegiate, but also earthy and unpretentious. Downtown denizens can drop into any number of bookstores or listen to live music at one of the city’s annual festivals. Along the Huron River, University of Michigan students unwind between classes, while others jog and throw Frisbees. In recent years Ann Arbor has slowly become a victim of its own success. Suburban sprawl has threatened much of the rural heritage that gives southern Michigan its charm, while also jeopardizing the city’s distinct downtown character.
The Fund is working with the city of Ann Arbor to assist in implementing this unique and vital greenbelt program. We will continue to work with our partners, including The McKnight Foundation, to provide project management support, stewardship planning and outreach with local landowners.
Over the next three decades, the initiative is expected to raise $80 million through taxes and state and federal incentive programs, which will be used to purchase land and development rights both within and outside the city limits. To date, the Ann Arbor Greenbelt Initiative has received more than $1.7 million in federal matching funds from the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program to purchase the development rights from five working farms.
The initiative has spawned other conservation efforts as well. In addition to the city of Ann Arbor, four out of the eight townships within the Greenbelt District have voted to protect farmland and open space inside their borders, thus allowing the jurisdictions to leverage their investment in the initiative for even greater returns, both economic and environmental.