MACD News Blog

The Van Buren Conservation District Receives Grant to Reduce Pollution in Two Watersheds

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

PAW PAW — The Van Buren Conservation District has been awarded a three-year $250,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) through the U.S. EPA Federal Clean Water Act. The grant will fund efforts to reduce pollution in Pine and Mill Creeks, which are both tributaries of the Paw Paw River that have been listed as impaired by the MDEQ.

Pine and Mill Creeks join the Paw Paw River in the City of Hartford and the City of Watervliet respectively. Both streams were listed as impaired for partial and total body contact by the MDEQ in 2008 due to high levels of bacteria and pathogens. Likely sources of these pollutants include manure runoff and failing septic systems. The grant will be used to address both sources through outreach, education and financial incentives.

"The Van Buren Conservation District is extremely pleased to be awarded this funding to promote clean water in Pine and Mill Creeks," said Alison Brucks, district director. "We are excited to begin working with farmers and homeowners to address pollutant sources that are impacting these streams and the communities they flow through."

The funds will be used to support educational programs and assist farmers with installing practices like cover crops and no-till that reduce polluted runoff. New technology will be tested that could reduce runoff and improve yields on farms. Scent trained canines will be used to identify areas with septic systems in need of repair or replacement.

The Drain Commissioner’s office will play a role in the project by offering lower drain assessments to farmers and landowners in the area who reduce runoff by using conservation practices. Drain maintenance charges will be largely based on the amount of sediment and runoff individual properties deliver to the drain, which creates a financial incentive for soil and water conservation. According to Joe Parman, the Van Buren County Drain Commissioner “this approach will generate drain assessments that are fair and could reduce drain maintenance costs for everybody in the long run.”

Together, Pine and Mill Creeks drain more than 38 square miles of land that includes parts of Bainbridge and Watervliet Townships in Berrien County and Keeler and Hartford Townships in Van Buren County. The land use in these watersheds is predominantly agricultural with about 60% percent of the land being used for crop and animal production. Water from both streams is used for irrigation and Mill Creek flows through Flaherty Park in the City of Watervliet, where both kids and fishermen enjoy the creek. The ultimate goal of the project is to make the streams cleaner and safer for all the people who use them.

The Two Rivers Coalition will assist the Conservation District with information, education and outreach efforts during the project. Other partners include the Berrien County Health Department, Van Buren/Cass District Health Department, Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, Van Buren County Farm Bureau, Red Arrow Dairy and the Van Buren County Drain Commissioner. These partners, along with individual landowners, will contribute another $110,000 to this project, culminating in about $360,000 for conservation efforts in the project area over the next three years.

To learn more about the Van Buren Conservation District, visit vanburencd.org.

Conservation Funds Available to Michigan Farmers

Monday, November 14, 2016

EAST LANSING, Nov. 14, 2016 – Farmers and forest owners are encouraged to submit applications for U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation assistance by Dec. 16, 2016. Conservation financial assistance is available for implementing a wide variety of practices to reduce soil erosion, improve wildlife habitat, protect water quality and manage private forest land.

“USDA conservation programs can help farmers reduce erosion and protect water quality while maintaining or improving production,” said USDA State Conservationist Garry Lee.

Conservation financial assistance is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Complete applications received by Dec. 16, will be ranked and considered for fiscal year 2017 funding. Financial assistance is available for implementing designated conservation practices such as windbreaks, nutrient management plans, cover crops, forest management plans, crop residue and tillage management, animal waste storage facilities and many others. Applications are ranked and selected for funding on a competitive basis.

A portion of USDA conservation funding is targeted to state-level conservation priorities. These include funds for farmers seeking Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program verification, high tunnels in Wayne and Genesee counties, honey bee habitat, organic producers and producers transitioning to organic production, and energy conservation.

Conservation activities receiving financial assistance must be part of an agricultural or forest operation’s conservation plan. Producers should work with their local NRCS or conservation district staff to develop a conservation plan before applying for the program. Successful applicants enter into a contract with NRCS to implement conservation activities and are reimbursed for a portion of the cost.

NRCS provides higher levels of financial assistance for beginning farmers and historically underserved producers. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis, producers and forest owners are encouraged to submit applications at any time. More information about conservation financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program is available at local Conservation District and NRCS offices and online at www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov.

OSU Sea Grant Program and Stone Lab Win MACD Award

Thursday, November 03, 2016

EAST LANSING - November 3, 2016.  The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) honored Ohio State University's Sea Grant College Program and Stone Lab with the 2016 Friend of Conservation Award on Tuesday, October 25th during the MACD Annual Convention held in Bellaire, MI.

MACD annually presents the Friend of Conservation Award to recognize the outstanding contributions of an individual or organization for their efforts to improve the public's understanding of natural resource conservation, for participation in conservation practices in cooperation with a Conservation District, and to further the mission of Michigan Conservation Districts as 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. 

"MACD is pleased to honor the OSU Sea Grant College Program and the Stone Laboratory with the 2016 Friend of Conservation Award," said Lori Phalen, MACD Executive Director. "The outstanding educational programs offered at the Stone Lab have provided information and hands-on experiences that have enhanced the agricultural community's understanding of water quality issues in the Western Lake Erie Watershed Basin."

The OSU Sea Grant College Program at Stone Lab in the Lake Erie Islands has been the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) and Conservation Practices Day Conference location for the Lenawee Conservation District's "Field to Great Lakes" events since 2013. Farmers and partners of agriculture have found the conference presentations of the science of algae blooms to be informative and well researched. The commitment to detail and breakdown of science has resulted in farmer attendees engaging in and actively encouraging others to implement additional conservation practices to positively impact water quality. The Farmers Advisory Committee that is comprised of over 100 farmers was also formed in 2014 as a result of farmers who attended the conference requesting assistance to continue the conservation conversation. 

Established in 1895, the Stone Laboratory is the oldest freshwater biological field station in the United States and the center of Ohio State University's teaching and research on Lake Erie. Each year the lab serves as a base for more than 65 researchers from 12 agencies and academic institutions, all working year-round to solve the most pressing problems facing the Great Lakes.

The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts is a 501(c)3 organization that represents the interests of Michigan Conservation Districts and works to strengthen Districts through leadership, information and representation at the state level. Michigan's 77 Conservation Districts are the local providers of natural resource management services that help our citizens conserve their lands and our environment for a cleaner, healthier, economically stronger Michigan.  To learn more about Michigan Conservation Districts visit www.macd.org.



Left to Right: Art Pelon, MACD President, Matt Thomas, OSU Stone Laboratory Research and Operations Manager, and Lori Phalen, MACD Ex. Director.


MAEAP and Conservation Practices Day Conference attendees at the Stone Lab.

Carl Druskovich Receives 2016 Friend of Conservation Award

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

EAST LANSING - The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) honored Carl Druskovich, Treasurer of the Van Buren Conservation District (VBCD), with the 2016 Director of the Year Award on Tuesday, October 25th at the MACD Convention and Annual Meeting held in Bellaire, MI.

The Director of the Year is named annually by the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts to recognize the outstanding contributions of a Conservation District director; one who has provided strong leadership, advocacy and promotion of conservation practices within the community. 

"Carl is an amazing director, going above and beyond to support the Van Buren Conservation District, its staff and programs." said Lori Phalen, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts. "Carl is a true leader, conservation steward and an integral part of Michigan's conservation community and we are pleased to honor him with the 2016 Director of the Year Award."

Mr. Druskovich has passion for the VBCD and its programs and offers a great deal of support to the District.  He brings along additional volunteers to events and offers up his farm to host educational workshops where others learn about the conservation programs and obtain a first-hand look at specialized equipment, no-till practices, cover cropped fields, irrigation scheduling and more.  Carl is a strong conservation advocate, promoting conservation practices, implementing those practices on his own farm and supporting the mission of the Van Buren Conservation District. 

The Van Buren 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 VBCD promotes the conservation of natural resources through partnerships, by providing public education, demonstrations and technical assistance while working together for future generations. Learn more about the VBCD by visiting vanburencd.org.

The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts is a 501(c)3 organization that represents the interests of Michigan Conservation Districts and works to strengthen Districts through leadership, information and representation at the state level. Michigan's 77 Conservation Districts are the local providers of natural resource management services that help our citizens conserve their lands and our environment for a cleaner, healthier, economically stronger Michigan.  For more information about Michigan Conservation Districts and to connect to your local Conservation District, visit www.macd.org, or contact MACD at 517-324-5274.



Left to Right: Art Pelon, MACD President; Kyle Mead, Eleanor Serocki, Matt Meersman, Kim Sinclair, Carl Druskovich, AJ Brucks, Lori Phalen MACD Ex. Director, Colleen Forestieri, and Erin Fuller all from the Van Buren Conservation District.

Carl Druskovich, Treasurer of Van Buren Conservation District and MACD 2016 Director of the Year.