MACD News Blog

Farmer-Led Conservation to Get a Boost in Western Lake Erie Basin

Friday, October 28, 2016

EAST LANSING - October 28, 2016.  Farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin will get a boost through the Farmers taking Action to Protect Water Quality in Western Lake Erie Basin grant project, recently funded by the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation.  

The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) has received $480,000 over three years to increase farmer adoption of conservation practices to protect water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin and strengthen farmer leadership to encourage neighbor action.  MACD will be working with the River Raisin Watershed Council, the Lenawee Conservation District and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) as project partners.

“This project targets the development of outreach tools, the expansion of Farmer-Led Conservation groups; and will also provide funds for farmers to distribute to improve water quality within the River Raisin Watershed,” said Lori Phalen MACD Executive Director, “we are pleased to be working with such outstanding partners to foster continued farmer-led progress within the watershed.”

“River Raisin Watershed Council is excited to continue a program that has brought attention to our efforts to partner with the local conservation district and the agricultural community through local Farmer-Led Conservation Groups and help tell their story of successes and conservation practices that reduce their impact on soil and nutrient losses in the Western Lake Erie Basin.  This truly is a grassroots effort to educate and implement meaningful agricultural practices throughout the River Raisin Watershed” states Stephen May Executive Director.

The Western Lake Erie Basin encompasses nearly 6 million acres of land (drained by the Maumee, Portage and Ottawa Rivers), as well as the open waters of Maumee Bay- the region’s gateway to Lake Erie and one of the most biologically diverse, productive and economically important areas of the Great Lakes system. 

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.

The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation’s mission is to nurture environmentally healthy and culturally vibrant communities in metro Detroit, consistent with sustainable business models, and support initiatives to restore the Great Lakes Ecosystem.  The Foundation is committed to the standards and approaches of sustainability, organizational effectiveness, collaboration and leadership in support of its mission.   


NRCS Seeks Applications to Restore Wetlands

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Michigan Conservation Districts work in partnership with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service to deliver conservation on the land.  In many areas of Michigan, Conservation Districts are located in the same office as the Natural Resource Conservation Service, to facilitate the delivery of conservation programs, such as the Agriculture Conservation Easement Program below. 

USDA Seeks Applications to Restore Wetlands

EAST LANSING, Sept. 21, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking applications from Michigan landowners who want to restore wetlands on their property. Applications submitted by Oct. 21, 2016, will be considered for selection for the current fiscal year.

Land that formerly contained a wetland but was converted to agricultural use may be eligible for enrollment in the USDA’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The program provides financial assistance for restoring wetlands and the purchase of long-term or permanent easements from landowners. Landowners enrolled in the program retain ownership of the land and control over access to the property as well as recreational use of the land.

The USDA restores and purchases wetland easements for their environmental benefits. Wetlands improve water quality by filtering water before it enters lakes and rivers. They also store water following heavy rains and snowmelts, reducing the frequency and severity of flood events and recharging ground water. Wetlands also provide valuable habitat for a wide variety of wildlife including fish, waterfowl, raptors, amphibians and many others.

Landowners can find out more about the USDA Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and wetland restoration by contacting their local Natural Resources Conservation Service office and their local Conservation District office. NRCS Office contact information is available at, Local Conservation District office information available by clicking HERE.

Unlock the Secrets to Soil Health

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Experts talk soil health – Newsletter articles

This series of short, but informative newsletter articles featuring experts from across the country will help your readers better understand the basics and benefits of improving the health of their soil. Feel free to download the files, share them on your web site or in your newsletters – and help “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil.”
Unlock Soil

#1: Discover the cover: Farmers realize benefits, challenges of soil-improving cover crops

#2: When it comes to water, cover crops give more than they take, expert says

#3: No-till, cover crops go hand-in-hand to build healthy soils, expert says

#4: For maximum benefit, mix it up, cover crop expert recommends

#5: Many considerations ‘in the mix’ when choosing cover crops, expert says

#6: Different cover crops yield different benefits, expert says

#7: Expert: Cover crops key in preventing yield losses when converting to no-till

#8: Fence rows provide insights into restoring healthy soils, expert says

#9: ‘Home-grown innovation’ needed for wide-spread cover crop use, expert says

#10: Radishes offer advantages in cover crop mix, expert says

#11: Expert urges farmers to ask—and answer—five questions before cover cropping

USDA Western Lake Erie Basin Announcement

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

United States Department of Agriculture Announcement to Benefit the Western Lake Erie Basin

This week, the USDA announced a new initiative from NRCS to improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The agency will invest $41 million over a three-year period, in addition to the $36 million from the 2014 Farm Bill. The basin includes areas of Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. These funds will help landowners in the basin remove over 640,000 pounds of phosphorus runoff and prevent over 260,000 tons of sediment loss per year. The initiative will help focus agency investments and help the work that local partners, including Conservation Districts, are doing in the basin. 

NRCS also released a Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) report that shows voluntary, incentive-based conservation is working well in the Western Lake Erie Basin to reduce sediment and nutrient loss in the area. However, more can be done to improve the land through conservation. The improvements could include conservation planning and conservation systems. 

Click Here for the full press release. Click Here for the full CEAP report.