A Watershed Moment: Farmland Preservation

On this week’s episode we hear from Phil Scaggs, West Michigan Director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, as he discusses Kent County’s Farmland Preservation program.

The Farmland Preservation program was founded in 2002 with a goal of preserving 25,000 acres by 2013. The program is essentially a response to issues involving land use and local government.

Over the last 25 years, Kent County has lost 60,000 acres of prime farmland due to city growth expanding outwards toward the countryside. Instead of spending money building infrastructure for water, sewers, and roads for the expansion of the city towards agricultural areas, Scaggs suggest that city sectors be more established and separated.

“It makes much more sense to essentially say, these are the places where we want farming to take place, these are the places where we want industrial development to take place, these are the places where we want residential development or retail development to take place.”

With this approach, farmers benefit by knowing that their farms are protected, and are going to be farms forever, so they can do infrastructure improvements to make a better farm. The program not only benefits farmers, but will benefit residents by supporting the local food initiative and preventing stormwater runoff.

“It’s really proper use of land. We have a thriving downtown and metro area in Grand Rapids; we have some very nice suburbs, and we need to make sure that in our pyramid of growth that we also have rural agricultural land.”

To listen to this weeks episode, click here.

“A Watershed Moment” is a weekly radio program focused on environmental news and happenings in West Michigan, plus solutions for living a greener life.  Broadcast on WYCE-FM 88.1 on Tuesdays at 8:30am and 5:30pm, this program is produced by Grand Rapids Community Media Center and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

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