Land Preservation Programs

Farmland Preservation Program (formerly PA 116) – Farmland Development Rights Agreements – A temporary restriction on the land between the State and a landowner, voluntarily entered into by a landowner, preserving their land for agriculture in exchange for certain tax benefits and exemptions for various special assessments.

For more information, download the Farmland Agreements; Enrollment, Eligibility & Benefits brochure, Transferring, Splitting & Releasing brochure or  visit the MDARD’s Farmland Preservation page.

Landowners Steps to Enrolling in the Farmland Preservation Program (PA 116)

1. Fill out an application

2. File your application with the local governing body ( i.e., city or village, the township if the township has adopted its own zoning ordinance, or the county for those townships which have not adopted a zoning ordinance)

3. The local governing body has 45 days within which to approve or reject the application. Within this 45 days, the governing body must seek the comments of:

  • the county or regional planning commission
  • the soil conservation district
  • a city if the land is within 3 miles of the city
  • a village if the land is within one mile of the village.

These agencies are allowed 30 days from the day of notification to forward their comments to the clerk of the local governing body.

4. If approved, the application is forwarded to the Michigan Department of Agriculture Rural Development, Farmland and Open Space Preservation Office. If the application is rejected, or if no action is taken by the local governing body, the applicant may appeal directly to the MDARD.

Application Instructions for Local Governing Body’s

For additional information or questions please contact Jarrod Thelen, Resource Analyst for the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program with MDARD at thelenj17@michigan.gov or (517) 284-5631.


Conservation Easement Donations – A permanent restriction on the land between the State and a landowner, voluntarily entered into by a landowner, preserving their land for either open space or agriculture.

For additional information or questions please contact Elizabeth Juras, Conservation Coordinator for the Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program with MDARD at jurase@michigan.gov or (517) 284-5663.


Designated Open Space Easement – A temporary restriction on specially designated lands between the State and a landowner, voluntarily entered into by a landowner, preserving their land as open space in exchange for certain tax benefits and exemptions for various special assessments.

For additional information concerning the MDARD’s Farmland and Open Space Preservation Programs please contact the Farmland Preservation Office at (517) 284-5663 or visit the website for additional contact information.


Purchase of Development Rights Program – The Agricultural Preservation Fund assists local units of government by providing grants for the purchase of ag. conservation easements through the Purchase of Development Rights Program.

If you are interested in this program please contact AJ Brucks at the Van Buren Conservation District and representative for the local Land Preservation Board at alison.brucks@mi.nacdnet.net or (269) 657-4030 x5.


Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) – Provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve and protect working agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits. Under the Wetland Reserve Easement component, NRCS helps to restore, protect and enhance enrolled wetlands.

For additional information contact your local USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). For Van Buren County landowners contact Jeff Douglas, District Conservationist, in the Paw Paw Service Center at (269) 657-4030 x3.


Michigan Municipal Wetland Alliance (MMWA) – Encourages long-term sustainability in water quality and biodiverse ecosystems by preserving and restoring wetland habitat on Michigan Department of Natural Resources public lands to address wetland impacts form Michigan municipalities, agricultural producers, and blueberry growers.

For additional information contact MMWA at (517) 853-5806 or info@michiganwetlands.com. 


Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy – A local non-profit conservation organization that works with people to improve habitat, protect water quality, support biodiversity, connect peopel with nature, and help families conserve the land they love.

For additional information contact SWMLC at (269) 324-1600 or conserveland@swmlc.org. 


The Conservation Fund – Conservation Acquisition; Land, Water & Wildlife Protection. Protecting land and water with high conservation value is essential for American’s environmental health and its economic vitality.

For additional information contact Peg Kohring, Senior Associate, Conservation Services at (269) 426-8825 or pkohring@conservationfund.org.


Michigan Nature Association – A non-profit conservation organization working to protect Michigan’s rare, threatened and endangered species by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.

For additional information contact MNA at (866) 223-2231 or michigannature@michigannature.org. 


The Nature Conservancy – Globally, only 5% of the natural lands at high risk of development are protected. Demands on land and water continue to increase so we must do more, faster.

For additional information contact TNC’s Gift Planning at (833) 336-PLAN or legacy@tnc.org.