Zach Branigan, left, is welcomed to the Pinconning-Standish Rotary Club by Mike Vieau, superintendent of the Pinconning Schools.
More Younger People Find Bay City Living Tops Urban Metros, Says Land Exec
Urban Planner Zach Branigan Now Heads Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy
April 21, 2012
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By: Dave Rogers
Why would an urban planner for Troy, Michigan, living in Ann Arbor chuck it all for a job managing 7,000 acres of rural, wooded land?
Members of the Pinconning Rotary Club didn't have to ask that question of Zach Branigan, he told them why.
"I don't see it as a downgrade, but rather as an upgrade," said the new executive director of the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy.
He told of giving up the "rat race" of an hour and a half travel between his home in Ann Arbor and job in Troy and the tough decision to move 100 miles north. "My friends all said I was crazy, but once here it didn't seem all that odd," he philosophized.
Calling the move "a massive quality of life increase," Branigan said he has encountered several young professionals even in his neighborhood on Fourth Street in Bay City who have the same outlook.
"In fact I've become the unofficial mayor of Bay City on Facebook," he commented. "I wonder how many more people like me that are moving here."
One neighbor works for a major aircraft manufacturer and came here six years ago after learning he could do his job anywhere because it involved online work. "People are choosing communities like Bay City because they can live affordably, they're close to nature and there is no traffic," he observed.
The focus of his new job is to protect land and he is doing everything he can to raise the profile and build the capacity of the Land Conservancy, he said.
"I want people to know who we are and what we do in relation to our network of preserves that are cherished assets," he said. "We are looking for people to become new members and provide support over time."
After some health concerns in his family, Branigan said he began looking for jobs out of the urban maelstrom. "The fact that I found one up here, where I am from, is amazing," he exclaimed.
A graduate of Western High School, Branigan attended Aquinas College and the University of Michigan. His family includes his wife, Moira, and their son, Leo, 3.
Finding a house here was not difficult, he said, since his dad, Bill Branigan, is a broker with Ayre Reinhart that opened an office in Bay City a year ago.
Pinconning Rotary President Mike Stoner noted that Branigan was selected from a field of 22 applicants for the job preserving habitat in 22 counties of mid-Michigan. He replaced Valerie Roof who now is with the Land Trust Alliance Accreditation Commission in New York.
Community Article 6940
Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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