75 Michigan conservation districts receive $ 9.7 million for soil, water and wildlife protection

LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) – On Thursday, the environmental management division of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) awarded 169 grants.

Worth an estimated total of $ 9.7 million, grants were made to 75 conservation districts in Michigan to implement voluntary conservation practices on private lands and private forests.

Conservation districts are local government entities that work to improve and conserve soil, water, wildlife, and other natural resources in their local communities.

This year marks a historic investment of $ 3 million in district operations, the highest funding levels since 2008.

“Michigan is known for its incredible natural resources and robust agricultural sector,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said. “Significant investments like this will help our conservation districts continue to work with MDARD to help Michigan farmers. Together, we will remain focused on growing Michigan’s economy, creating well-paying jobs, cutting costs, and starting a new era of prosperity for our families, communities and small businesses across the board. sectors.

“This funding will help support and uplift our District Conversation partners. These funds will allow districts to identify and prioritize the most urgent needs in their communities and ensure that landowners have access to technical assistance for their operations, ”said Gary McDowell, Director of MDARD. “Conservation districts are integral to the success of many MDARD programs. We work in partnership with conservation districts as they provide reliable expertise and assistance to farmers and landowners. This knowledge is essential for adopting voluntary conservation that protects soils, crops, forests, rivers and wildlife.

Grants to Conservation Districts are intended for the implementation of the following conservation programs:

  • Conservation district operations – 75 scholarships
    • The purpose of this grant is to provide support to the core operations of Michigan’s 75 conservation districts to carry out operational tasks associated with natural resource management activities in accordance with the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451 Part 93, as amended, commonly referred to as the Conservation Districts Act. Through these grants, conservation districts will provide citizens with easy access to natural resource management assistance, assess and analyze local natural resource management needs, and implement natural resource management as needed. identified.
  • Michigan Agricultural Environmental Insurance Program (MAEAP) – 39 scholarships
    • MAEAP is a voluntary and proactive program designed by a coalition of farmers, commodity groups, state and federal agencies, conservation groups and environmental groups to reduce legal and environmental risks for farmers. It teaches effective land stewardship practices that comply with state and federal regulations and shows farmers how to identify and prevent agricultural pollution risks on their operations. Technicians from the conservation district hired with these grants are trained to carry out all MAEAP risk assessments, help farmers develop action plans for farm improvement and assist them step by step in verifying the MAEAP. in farm, livestock, crop and wetland and forest habitat systems. .
  • Conservation Technical Assistance Initiative (CTAI) – 23 scholarships
    • The CTAI program provides Michigan farmers and landowners with conservation planning and engineering assistance, allowing them easier access to cost-shared federal dollars for the implementation of conservation practices. The program leverages funding from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to employ five engineers, eight soil conservators and 10 program assistants.
  • Forestry Assistance Program (PAF) – 19 scholarships
    • The FAP provides technical assistance to private forest owners. Foresters in conservation districts work individually with private forest land owners and private sector foresters to promote the sustainable management of private forest resources. They offer free site visits to private forest owners in their service area. They also promote and raise awareness by organizing workshops, organizing field days and writing articles for local publications. These 19 foresters also play a vital role in helping forest land owners enroll in the Skilled Forests Program, an MDARD program that encourages landowners to actively manage their private forests for commercial harvest, improving the wildlife habitat and enhancement of other non-forest resources. In exchange for the sustainable management of their forests, landowners benefit from a tax exemption on their forest property.
  • Product Safety Program – 6 scholarships
    • The Product Safety Program is a cooperative effort between the Food and Drug Administration, MDARD, Michigan State University Extension, and local conservation districts to help farms of all sizes voluntarily improve on-farm product safety.
    • The grants support six Conservation District Product Safety Technicians who provide on-farm technical assistance using Michigan Product Safety Risk Assessment to educate and help develop product safety plans as well as coordinate resources from local, state and federal agencies to help farmers reduce identified products. safety risks and progress towards compliance with state and federal regulations regarding product safety.
  • Conservation specialist – 4 scholarships
    • The purpose of this grant is to accelerate the adoption of conservation practices in the western Lake Erie basin through new and existing approaches, tools and programs. Through this program, four technicians from the Conservation District provide technical assistance and technical assistance to private landowners to implement conservation practices funded by the Farm Bill 2018, the State of Michigan, or any other federal, state source. , local or private available to help reduce sediment and nutrient loss in the western basin of Lake Erie and improve water quality.
  • Technical assistance to the conservation reserve enhancement program – 3 grants
    • The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a collaboration between the USDA Agricultural Services Agency and MDARD to encourage the installation and maintenance of conservation programs that protect water quality and improve wildlife habitat. These grants support the technical staff of the conservation district who provide awareness programs and technical assistance on the planning, design, installation and maintenance of conservation practices funded by CREP.

For more information on MDARD’s conservation programs and Michigan Conservation Districts, Click here, or see the related links below.

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Betty T. Simpson

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