Collaboration for Preservation
In most cases, lands acquired with Washtenaw Countys Natural Areas Preservation Program (NAPP) funds are owned and maintained by the Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission. WCPARC also partners with land preservation organizations to contribute to the protection and preservation of natural areas that are managed by others.
The LeFurge Woods Nature Preserve is one the finest mature woodlands in Washtenaw County. In 2003, Washtenaw County partnered with the Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy (SMLC) to add the 64-acre Meyer Property to their LeFurge Woods Nature Preserve. NAPP funds purchased a conservation easement on the 64 acres and SMLC holds title to the land. SMLC owns and maintains all 325 acres of the preserve. In 2007, we partnered with SMLC again to protect more land in the LeFurge Woods corridor. NAPP funds contributed to SMLCs purchase of a conservation easement on the Schultz Farm, 158 acres on the eastern boundary of the preserve. Specifically, NAPP funds were allocated to secure a conservation easement with public access on the 10-acre woodlot in the northwest corner of the farm.
The Jack R. Smiley Preserve (100 acres) is named for the founder of the Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy(SMLC). The preserve was established through the collaboration of the City of Ann Arbor Greenbelt Program, SMLC and WCPARC. Title to the land is held by SMLC and the County holds a conservation easement; the Greenbelt Program contributed funds for its acquisition. The preserve is a component of the Superior Greenway a 2,000+ acre, two-mile corridor of protected land in Superior Township, the creation of which was spearheaded by Mr. Smiley. In 2014, WCPARC and SMLC further collaborated to construct a trail through the preserve that involved the construction of two bridges over the County drain.
The preserve has a mix of wetland and forest habitat but the majority is agricultural land. Fowler Creek, a tributary of the Lower Rouge River, flows through the property and has good water quality. The site likely was the location of a Native American trail prior to European settlement.