Learn How to Fund Natural Areas and Farmland Protection through a Local Government Millage 

Millage Toolkit for Funding Land ConservationThis Toolkit offers step-by-step processes for creating a millage campaign for protecting land in your community. Download the ‘Funding Land Protection from Millages Toolkit’ here.


This Millage Toolkit describes what a millage is, how they can be used to protect land, and takes you through, step-by-step, the process of getting one passed. Topics covered include:

  • How to determine feasibility for a land protection millage
  • Steps to get a millage proposal on the ballot
  • Budgeting, recruiting, planning for a campaign
  • Communicating your message to voters
  • Getting out the vote
  • Setting up your program
  • Post campaign action items


  • Citizens who want to learn how to get their local governments to place a land protection program on the local ballot.
  • Local government officials who want to learn more about how their local government would run a land protection millage ballot campaign.
  • ANYONE who wants to learn how to run a campaign to get a land protection millage passed in your next election!

Funding Land Protection from Millages

Resources and further reading

  • Travis Warziniack, US Forest Service, Sham, C., Morgan, R., Feferholtz, Y., 2016. Effect of Forest Cover on Drinking Water Treatment Costs. American Water Works Association, U.S. Endowment for Forestry
  • Freeman, J., Madsen, R., and K. Hart. 2008. Statistical Analysis of Drinking Water Treatment Plant Costs, Source Water Quality, and Land Cover Characteristics. Trust for Public Land white paper
  •  Stein, S.M., McRoberts, R. E., Alig, R. J., Nelson, M. D., Theobald, D. M., Eley, M., Dechter, M., and M. Carr. 2005. ForestsOnTheEdge. Housing Development on America’s Private Forests. USDA Forest Service. Technical Report PNW‐GTR‐636
  • Ernst, Caryn. 2004. Protecting the Source. Land Conservation and the Future of America’s Drinking Water. The Trust for Public Land and the American Water Works Association. San Francisco, CA: water-protecting_the_source_final.pdf
  • Todd Gartner, James Mulligan, Rowan Schmidt and John Gunn – October 2013. Natural Infrastructure: Investing in Forested Landscapes for Source Water Protection in the United States. World Resources Institute: NaturalInfrastructure.pdf
  • The Economic Impact of the Huron River. 2017. Huron River Watershed Council: GVSU-Study-Huron-River-Economic-Impact-web.pdf
  • The Economic Impact of Oakland County’s Green Infrastructure. Oakland County Planning and Economic Services. 2007: quantifying_the_economic_impact_of_oakland_countys_green_infrastructure_1.pdf
  • Economic Benefits of Parks and Open Space. 1999. Trust for Public Land. benfits_EconBenef_Parks_OpenSpaceL.pdf
  • Measuring the Economic Value of a City Park System. 2003. Trust for Public Land: ccpe-econvalueparks-rpt.pdf
  • The Future of Michigan’s Parks and Outdoor Recreation: A Report to Governor Rick Snyder. September 23, 2012. Prepared by the Michigan State Parks and Outdoor Recreation Blue Ribbon Panel with assistance from: Public Sector Consultants Inc.: ParksPanelFinal_401824_7.pdf
  • Green Infrastructure: A Landscape Approach. 2013. American Planning Association.
  • Measuring the Economic Value of Recreation, Programs and Parks: A How-To Guide. 2007. Michigan Recreation and Parks Association. Guide to Measuring Economic Value of Parks and Recreation – MRPA.pdf


Cost of Community Services Fact Sheet, American Farmland Trust. This study was published September 2016 and includes a list of studies from around the country and expenditure-to-cost ratios for residential land, commercial and industrial land, and working and open land.

Ann Arbor Township 1999 Farmland Analysis & Cost of Services Study

About this project

Thanks to funding from the National Endowment for Forestry’s Healthy Watersheds Initiative, HRWC will work with local governments in the watershed to enact more land preservation programs and innovative land use planning policies. The goal is the protection of an additional 23,000 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and other natural and working landscapes.

In the next three years, HRWC will offer assistance to local governments on:

  • Enacting land preservation millages by providing this Toolkit and hosting workshops on how to organize a millage campaign to secure funding for land protection
  • Finding innovative funding for natural area and farmland preservation
  • Master planning and zoning for water resources and natural areas protection
  • Adopting Smart Growth techniques for water resources and natural areas protection

Contact Kris Olsson for more information or find out how to get your local government involved.