MACD News Blog

MDARD Seeks Residents to Serve on Ontonagon Conservation District Board

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

LANSING — The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is seeking five residents to serve on the new Board of Directors for the Ontonagon Conservation District. Letters of interest must be received by MDARD no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 25.

The Ontonagon Conservation District is a local unit of government (governed by its board of directors) that works directly with private landowners to conserve soil, water, forest and wildlife resources. MDARD is in the process of reforming the district and is seeking a new board of directors. The board will coordinate the conservation district’s efforts utilizing local, state, federal, and private resources to develop locally-driven solutions to natural resource concerns in Ontonagon County.

To be eligible, candidates must be 18 years of age and a resident of Ontonagon County. If appointed, members will serve until an annual meeting is held, at which time, they may run for election. MDARD will notify those selected to be on the board in writing.

To apply, candidates should send a letter of interest and include the following:

- Why you are interested in farmland, forestland, or conservation of natural resources
- Any relevant skills or experience serving on a board or working in conservation
- Any grant writing or business management skills
- Contact information (name, telephone, mailing address, and email address)

Letters must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on March 25 to Hardcopy submissions must be postmarked no later than March 23, 2019. Please allow ample time for delivery to:

Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development
Environmental Stewardship Division
P.O. Box 30017
Lansing, MI 48909

For more information, contact Rachael Guth, Regional Coordinator, or 906-251-8727.

Highlighting the Work of Ingham Eaton and Clinton Conservation Districts

Monday, January 14, 2019

Whether you know it or not, if you live in Ingham, Eaton or Clinton County you are benefiting from a vigorous and proactive resource conservation program. Most residents appreciate clean air, clean water, abundant wildlife, productive forests and farmland which increase the quality of life in the area. Pleasant surroundings have a positive effect on bringing people and businesses into the area and raising wages and property values.

Few residents give much thought to who is in charge of planning and implementing conservation programs which keep the Capital area a great place to live. Michigan, like all states, benefits from its 75 locally led Conservation Districts. Tops among those 75 districts are those bordering our state capital.

Identifying the most important issues locally and gathering the necessary data, partners and funding to adequately address them is the forte of the board and staff of the Conservation Districts. Recently, the Ingham Conservation District took its efforts to address water quality issues in the county to the next level by pursuing a grant to keep microplastics out of the surface waters. Microplastics are ubiquitous in our modern world and the total exposure biological system have and the effect it has on them is unquantified. This new grant will make use of novel sensing technology that will improve ecosystem health by providing a cost-efficient mechanism to identify microplastic pollution sources and the impact of behavioral decisions on these pollution sources. Microplastics, including microbeads, fragments and fibers are defined as plastics smaller than 5mm in size. Water pollution due to microplastics is a top emerging concern for ecological and human health. The information obtained will be integrated into a targeted outreach campaign and mitigation initiatives.

Protecting and improving our local water based recreational opportunities is another way that districts serve the area. Clinton District some years ago led the restoration of a local lake. Muskrat Lake, located on state-owned wildlife land, was adversely affected by the loss of about two feet of water depth. The ability of wildlife to make use of the lake as it had was limited since the surface area of the lake was much reduced and the lake was about two feet shallower. Launching a boat was almost impossible since the lake had receded away from the pavement and the danger of getting mired in the mud was significant.

In response to local requests for help, the Clinton Conservation District worked with the state agencies and local partners to obtain the engineering study, funding and materials to install a water control structure which today holds the lake level at the elevation which is historically more correct for the site. This more normal water level and some improvements made by the state as a part of the  project has much improved recreational opportunities in this area just minutes away from Lansing.

Eaton Conservation District has a strong interest in the continued viability of agriculture in the county. One of many innovative programs the district has planned and implemented is aimed at helping farmers to benefit from prescribed grazing technology.  The Growing Green Field Day held recently provided instruction and demonstrations to producers who are interested in better managing their land and livestock. Animals, like cattle, that are most at home on pasture can be managed in such a way that both the land and the animals benefit rather than being kept in buildings and having their feed brought to them and the resulting manure stored and hauled away.

By keeping the animals on pasture, farmers benefit by having less investment in buildings, equipment and labor keeping their operations more profitable. The animals managed in this way can have better health since ruminants, like cattle, are specially adapted to eat grass and benefit from the physical activity derived from gathering their own feed. Local citizens benefit from the protection of the agricultural and green spaces provided by a strong agricultural presence in the area.

Anyone interested in conservation programs administered by local Conservation Districts can find contact information for their district on the web at

Article by Steve Law, MACD Capacity Programs Manager

Leelanau Conservation District Receives Michigan Envirothon District of the Year Award

Friday, November 09, 2018

The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) and the Michigan Envirothon program honored Leelanau Conservation District with the 2018 Michigan Envirothon District of the Year Award on Tuesday, October 30th during the MACD Fall Convention held in Bellaire, MI.
MACD annually presents the Envirothon District of the Year Award to recognize a Conservation District that has provided outstanding  support, dedication and leadership in natural resource conservation education for Michigan's youth through the Michigan Envirothon Program.   

Michigan Envirothon is an environmental science based education program for high school students, presented in a team-based competition format. Designed to foster critical thinking, wise stewardship and community involvement, the program has been helping to educate the next generation of Michigan leaders since 1994.   

"Michigan Envirothon is pleased to honor the Leelanau Conservation District with the 2018 District of the Year Award," said Angela Sandusky, Michigan EnvirothonCoordinator. "We credit the entire Leelanau staff and board members for offering their support to the program since its inception 24 years ago, and especially would like to thank them for their role in the successful completion of the 2018 program year."

Leelanau District staff and Board members provided hours of support, financially sponsoring and working directly with local teams, leading reviews at regional events and participating as volunteers throughout the 2018 State Competition held in Lake Ann.  

"I would like to specially recognize Lynn Baker, Director Leelanau CD, for answering the challenge this year for local support in preparing for the State Competition. Lynn was instrumental in providing local information for our testing and training committee and participated in several site visits to help our team create a quality experience for our students," said Sandusky. "Leelanau Conservation District staff and board members are leaders in helping move youth conservation education forward in Michigan and are a great asset to the Michigan Envirothon Program."

From left: Elaine Brown, MACD Secretary/Treasurer; Gerald Miller, MACD Vice President; Kama Ross, Leelanau CD Forester; Angela Sandusky, ME Program Coordinator; Art Pelon, MACD President and Lori Phalen, MACD Executive Director.

About Michigan Envirothon 
Michigan Envirothon is an environmental education program of the MichiganAssociation of Conservation Districts. Michigan Envirothon benefits over 3,000 students, teachers and community members every year and has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of Michigan's youth, with many past participants moving on to become natural resource professionals. Every Michigan high school student is eligible to participate, and every year in Michigan teams of high school students and adult advisors come together to study the subjects of Agriculture, Aquatic Ecology, Energy, Forestry, Soils/Geology, Wildlife and a Current Environmental Issue that rotates every year. For more information visit our website

Tuscola Conservation District's Mike Day Wins High Honor

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) honored Mike Day, Secretary/Treasurer of the Tuscola Conservation District with the 2018 Director of the Year Award on Tuesday, October 30th during the MACD Fall Convention held in Bellaire, MI.
MACD annually presents the Director of the Year Award to recognize the outstanding contributions of a Conservation District director; one who has provided strong leadership, advocacy and promotion of conservation practices within their community. Michigan's Conservation Districts are the local providers of natural resource management services that help our citizens conserve their lands and our state's resources for a cleaner, healthier and economically stronger Michigan.
"Mike Day exemplifies the qualities of an engaged leader," said Lori Phalen, MACD Executive Director. "Mike is a very active director and has been influential in developing and promoting natural resource programs and services to the citizens of Tuscola County for many years."

A long standing board member, Mike Day has been a director of the Tuscola Conservation District for 15 years. During his tenure, Mike has been a leader in the development and growth of quality programs to benefit agricultural producers, landowners and managers within the county. He is available 24-7, helping with program implementation and promotion, volunteering at various functions and through his role as Secretary/Treasurer, keeping the financial condition of the District strong. 

The Tuscola Conservation District is a special purpose unit of government, governed by a locally elected five-member board of directors who provide leadership to the District's activities and programs. The Tuscola Conservation District is committed to assisting the residents of Tuscola County with the management of our natural resources in a sustainable way through education and implementation of conservation practices. Learn more about the Tuscola Conservation District by visiting

From left: Elaine Brown, MACD Secretary/Treasurer; Gerald Miller, MACD Vice President; Anne Collins, Tuscola CD Forester; Mike Boike, Tuscola CD Manager; Mike Day, Tuscola CD Secretary/Treasurer; Steve Schaub, Tuscola CD MAEAP Technician; John Bauer Tuscola CD Technician; Lori Phalen, MACD Executive Director; Art Pelon, MACD President.