MACD News Blog

Working Together to Restore Pheasants and Habitat in Michigan

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Working Together to Restore Pheasants and Habitat in Michigan

Local Conservation Districts have partnered with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Pheasants Forever, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to restore habitats for Michigan pheasants. They are participating in the new Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative, which began in early 2011.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry has voiced her support of this program. "Hunting and outdoor recreation is part of our way of life in Michigan,” she said. “This program lets our farmers and landowners get added value from their property while opening up access for hunting."

Conservation Districts are excited about the potential of this program to improve habitat, increase wildlife populations and improve small game hunting opportunities to Michigan's hunters," said Lori Phalen, Executive Director of the Michigan Assocation of Conservation Districts. "Districts are local units of state government that provide natural resource management services to Michigan's non-industrial private landowners.  The Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative (MPRI) provides an excellent opportunity to focus landowners on the benefits of quality grassland habitats that are critical to robust pheasant populations, as well as to many other game and non game species."

The beginning project will focus on three pilot zones:

    1) Huron, Sanilac, and Tuscola counties

    2) Hillsdale, Lenawee, and Monroe counties

    3) Gratiot, Saginaw, and Clinton counties

Michigan Conservation District staff will take the lead on financial and technical assistance. They will seek eligible landowners and provide guidance and assistance on habitat prescriptions for pheasants. To be eligible, landowners must work together to devote large blocks of land that could serve as a patchwork of different privately owned lands set aside for habitat. This is a cooperative initiative that requires a group of property owners to voluntarily agree to work together in "Neighborhood Cooperatives" to implement habitat projects.

Staff will also assist cooperatives in identifying federal, state, and private assistance for funding or implementing habitat projects. NRCS and Farm Service Agency (FSA) will provide funding to landowners through conservation cost-share programs to install these habitat restoration practices. Chapters of Pheasants Forever will provide free seed to landowners. In some cases, the MDNRE will donate the use of farm implements and planting equipment, and release live pheasant if the area is suitable. The MDNRE will also partially fund technicians for this project in the three pilot zones.

Landowners can also sign up for funding through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)a program is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in March and April. CRP is administered by the FSA with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) providing technical assistance through conservation planning. Created in 1985, the CRP has been a useful tool for creating habitat for pheasants and other wildlife. CRP offers annual payments for 10-15 year contracts to participants who establish grass, shrub and tree cover on their environmentally sensitive lands.

If you are interested in participating in the Pheasant Restoration Initiative, form your own Neighborhood Cooperative, or find out where you can join a Cooperative please contact your local Conservation District found on the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts on the local districts page of this website.
. You can read more about the initiative on the wildlife page.

Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD), a non-profit 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 79 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.

Landowners Encouraged to Sign Up for Conservation Reserve Program

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Agricultural producers, operators and landowners are encouraged to take advantage of the current open general sign up period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Sign up began on March 14, 2011, and continues through April 15, 2011.

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is the largest private lands conservation program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program is made available through the Farm Bill and encourages farmers to convert highly erodible cropland to resource-conserving vegetative cover.

Lori Phalen, Executive Director of Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD), encourages those interested to contact their Conservation District today for assistance and more information. "CRP helps agricultural producers convert environmentally sensitive agricultural land to achieve conservation benefits including protecting water quality and reducing soil erosion."

Land currently not enrolled in CRP may be offered in this sign up provided all eligibility requirements are met. Additionally, current CRP participants with contracts expiring this fall may make new contract offers. Contracts awarded under this sign up are scheduled to become effective Oct. 1, 2011.

To be eligible for CRP, the producer must have owned or operated the land for at least 12 months prior to the close of the CRP sign up - April 15, 2011. Land must be cropland which has been planted or considered planted to an agricultural commodity four of the six crop years from 2002- 2007, and which is physically and legally capable of being planted in a normal manner to an agricultural commodity. Alfalfa and other multiyear grasses and legumes grown in a rotation not to exceed 12 years may be eligible for this year.

Benefits to CRP include:
- improved and increased wildlife habitat
- improved water quality
- increased soil quality
- reduced soil erosion
- increased air quality

In return for planting long-term resource conserving covers, the Farm Service Agency, (FSA) provides CRP participants annual rental payments, maintenance payments, cost-share and technical assistance.

"The CRP program has been a very successful one in Michigan and we are very pleased with this general sign up opportunity. I encourage interested producers and landowners to contact their local Conservation District and USDA Service Center to learn more about the program," said Phalen, "This is an exciting opportunity for landowners, one that will reap many environmental benefits for Michigan."

Don't miss this opportunity! Contact your local Conservation District or USDA Service Center for more information or visit www.fsa.usda.gov/crp or visit the farm bill page.

Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD), a non-profit organization that represents the interests of Michigan Conservation Districts and works to strengthen Districts through leadership, information and representation at the state 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.

Benzie CD to be at Benzie Water Festival

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Benzie Conservation District will take part in the Benzie Water Festival scheduled for March 18, 19 and 20 in Benzie, Michigan.

Join Carol Navaro of the Benzie Conservation District, on Saturday at 3 pm at the Frankfort Elementary School for a program on Rain Gardens.  To learn more about the festival visit: http://water-festival.org/

NACD Recent Guest on AgriTalk

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The National Association of Conservation Districts President, Gene Schmidt was a guest on the Tuesday's AgriTalk program to talk about conservation funding in the FY11 budget. The interview is available at by clicking here (on the second half of the show, around the 29:30 mark)