Regional Conservation Districts Receive Grants | News, Sports, Jobs

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MARQUETTE – Regional conservation districts have received various grants from the Division of Environmental Stewardship of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The division has awarded 169 grants totaling approximately $ 9.7 million to 75 Michigan conservation districts to implement voluntary conservation practices on private land 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 $ 3 million investment in district operations, the highest funding levels since 2008, the Michigan Department of Agriculture said.

“Michigan is known for its incredible natural resources and robust agricultural sector,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “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 the Conversation District partners, according to Gary McDowell, director of MDARD.

“These funds will allow districts to identify and prioritize the most urgent needs of their communities and ensure that landowners have access to technical assistance for their operations,” he said in a statement. “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.

The grants to the conservation districts of the Upper Peninsula are intended for the implementation of the following conservation programs:

Conservation district operations

The purpose of this grant is to provide support to conservation districts in carrying out operational tasks associated with natural resource management activities in accordance with the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.

The UP conservation districts that received grants of $ 40,000 were the districts of Marquette County, Algiers, Chippewa / Luce / Mackinac, Delta, Dickinson, Gogebic, Houghton / Keweenaw, Iron / Baraga, Menominee and Schoolcraft.

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 based on these grants. identified needs.

Michigan Agricultural Environmental Insurance Program

MAEAP is a voluntary and proactive program designed by a coalition of farmers, commodity groups, state and federal agencies, and conservation and environmental groups to reduce legal and environmental risks for farmers. The Michigan Department of Agriculture said it teaches effective land management practices that comply with state and federal regulations and shows farmers how to identify and prevent agricultural pollution hazards on their operations.

District conservation technicians hired through 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 performance. MAEAP in farming, livestock, crop, wetland and forest habitat systems.

In UP, the Delta Conservation District received $ 76,000 while the Chippewa Luce Mackinac Conservation District received $ 74,500.

Conservation Technical Assistance Initiative

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 to employ five engineers, eight soil conservators and 10 program assistants.

The Delta Conservation District received grants of $ 69,000 and $ 53,500, while the Chippewa Luce Mackinac Conservation District received a grant of $ 75,000.

Forestry assistance program

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. According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture, these 19 foresters also play a vital role in helping forest land owners enroll in the Qualified Forest Program, an MDARD program that encourages landowners to actively manage their private forests for commercial harvest, improving wildlife habitat and improving other non-forest resources.

In exchange for the sustainable management of their forests, landowners benefit from a tax exemption on their forest property.

The Marquette County Conservation District received a grant of $ 68,000. Other UP districts that received such grants were the Chippewa Luce Mackinac Conservation District, $ 70,600; the Delta Conservation District, $ 73,000; Dickinson Conservation District, $ 68,000; the Gogebic Conservation District, $ 73,000; and the Iron Baraga Conservation District, $ 68,000.

Product Safety Program

The Product Safety Program is a cooperative effort between the FDA, 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 and produce safety plans as well as coordinate resources from local, state and federal agencies to help farmers reduce the safety of identified products. risks and progress towards compliance with state and federal regulations regarding product safety.

The Marquette County Conservation District received a grant of $ 78,500 in this category.

Busy local neighborhood

The Marquette County Conservation District has been busy with a variety of projects this year, according to its Facebook page.

The MCCD said it plans to help Barrel + Beam, a brewery in Marquette Township, create native landscape by planting native fruit trees and pollinator gardens in its outdoor space.

In turn, Barrel + Beam will let the MCCD use its premises for its annual meeting in December.

The district said Barrel + Beam uses local Michigan fruit in its craft drinks whenever it can. The project will also benefit pollinators.

The District Annual Meeting and Board of Directors election are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on December 2 at Barrel + Beam, located at 260 Northwoods Road. The guest speaker will be Ryne Rutherford, biologist at Biophilia, LLC.

“When they prepare their drinks, they can actually harvest some of the things that grow near their building,” MCCD District Director Heather Gustafson said of the project.

For more information on the Marquette County Conservation District, visit www.marquettecd.com.

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