MACD News Blog

MACD Honors Mary Fales and the Nature Conservancy with 2014 Friend of Conservation Award

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) honored Mary Fales and The Nature Conservancy with the 2014 Friend of Conservation Award on Tuesday, October 28th. The award, presented during the MACD Annual Convention held in Bellaire, recognizes an individual, business, organization or agency who partners with Conservation Districts to help Michigan citizens conserve their lands and Michigan's natural resources.
"MACD is pleased to recognize The Nature Conservancy and Mary Fales, Saginaw Bay Project Director," said Lori Phalen, MACD Executive Director. "Through their work, within Saginaw Bay and the Cass River Watershed, they are making a lasting, positive impact on our environment and it is our pleasure to honor them with the 2014 Friend of Conservation Award."
MACD annually presents the Friend of Conservation Award to recognize an individual, business, organization, or agency for their outstanding contributions to: 1) improve the understanding of natural resource conservation by the public; 2) participate in resource management practices in cooperation with a Conservation District, state or national conservation program, and 3) further the mission of Michigan Conservation Districts as the local providers of natural resource management services to help our citizens conserve their lands and our State's resources for a cleaner, healthier, economically stronger Michigan.
Nominated by the Sanilac and Tuscola Conservation Districts, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has provided resources to educate agricultural producers and landowners on conservation programs and practices that enhance water quality in the Saginaw Bay and the Cass River Watershed.  Their efforts have allowed Conservation Districts to focus technicians' time promoting and implementing Farm Bill and conservation programs in the Cass River Watershed. Over a two year period TNC has provided public promotion of conservation practices through cover crop plots, workshops, presentations and informational mailings to landowners and agricultural producers within Sanilac and Tuscola counties.  Funding provided by the TNC has been a major contributor to 10 wetland restorations that have been started and or completed, over 30 conservation plans, and over 15 NRCS conservation contracts. These contracts have led to the use of conservation practices such as: cover crops, reduced tillage, filter strips and grassed waterways on several thousand acres across the two counties.  Additionally, several livestock facilities have had Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans written and are implementing practices on their farms to reduce the risk of manure and other waste from contaminating surface and ground water.  The Nature Conservancy has been an excellent partner with both the Sanilac and Tuscola Conservation Districts and has helped bring conservation to many landowners and agricultural producers in both counties. 

Left to Right: Joe Kautz, Sanilac County Conservation District Manager; Randal Dell, TNC Ag Strategy Manager; Art Pelon, MACD President and Lori Phalen, MACD Executive Director.

To learn more about the work of the Sanilac County Conservation District, visit:, to learn more about the Tuscola Conservation District visit:  For more information about the work of The Nature Conservancy in Michigan, visit:

Muskegon Conservation District plays integral role in removing White Lake as an Area of Concern

Friday, October 31, 2014

For more than two decades the community surrounding White Lake has been working to deal with an industrial legacy that placed the lake on a bi-national list of "toxic hotspots" known as Areas of Concern (AOC). Yesterday White Lake, one of forty-three AOCs throughout the Great Lakes, was officially removed as an AOC by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; an achievement that truly highlights the importance of partnerships as an essential element of many local natural resource projects. Thus, it is not surprising that one of the partners in this effort was a Conservation District. 
In the early years of the White Lake Area of Concern community leaders and local advocates formed the White Lake Public Advisory Council and it was this organization that began the work to address and document many of the problems that plagued White Lake. It was during these initial years that the Muskegon Conservation District first got involved providing administrative support, outreach, and education. While activities progressed and projects evolved the Conservation District started a more active role in writing grants, initiating surveys, and facilitating contract work with other local and state partners to determine the scope of the restoration work which was necessary to remove White Lake as an Area of Concern. As the White Lake Public Advisory Council and community leaders moved toward action and implementation, the role of the Muskegon Conservation District shifted again; this time providing technical guidance, developing restoration plans, and documenting progress made on individual impairments. 

With the White Lake Public Advisory Council making continuous progress toward removal of White Lake as an Area of Concern, it became apparent that a significant portion of the degraded habitat had yet to be addressed. Once again the Conservation District stepped forward and in 2010 wrote and received 2.1 million dollars from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. These funds allowed the Conservation District and community to implement a comprehensive fish and wildlife habitat restoration project which put AOC removal in reach.  

Jeff Auch, Executive Director of the Muskegon Conservation District, is ardent to note: "Although we played a key role in White Lake's recovery it was the local community, municipal leaders, and individuals that deserve the credit. The District simply did what Conservation Districts do so well - filling a niche in natural resource management. Sometimes this is taking a leadership role, implementing projects, or providing technical guidance; while other times it is the behind the scenes work of writing grants and reports, doing outreach, and developing designs."

The White Lake community and the Great Lakes Region have much to celebrate with this accomplishment, most notably the recognition that partners make all the difference in the protection and restoration of natural resources. Congratulations to White Lake and to the Muskegon Conservation District on this significant achievement! 

About Michigan Conservation Districts
Michigan's 78 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.

As local, special purpose units of government, each Conservation District is governed by a locally elected, five-member board of directors. The guiding philosophy of Michigan Conservation Districts is that local people should make decisions on conservation issues at the local level, with technical assistance provided by government.

For more information about Michigan Conservation Districts and to connect to your local Conservation District, visit the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) website, or contact MACD at 517-324-5274.

Summer Field Days & Workshops

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Summer is the season for field days, workshops and events at your local Conservation District!  

From agricultural to water focused events, Michigan Conservation Districts throughout the state are hosting events of interest to land owners, land managers and those interested in learning more about the great outdoors.  

I receive many emails from our Conservation Districts informing me of the events they are hosting locally.  From the Water Tours of Benzie, hosted by the Benzie Conservation District to the Hillsdale County NRCS and MAEAP Field Day scheduled for July 25th, our Districts are busy!  

Conservation Districts are well known as the local "go to" place for natural resource conservation information and assistance.  They have a great understanding of the natural resources and the conservation issues of their area and utilize the many programs and tools at their disposal to address those issues.    

I encourage you to get in touch with your local Conservation District (Find Your District on the Web Here) to learn more about what they do, programs they offer, and to participate in one of their summer events.  You will be happy that you did!

Barry and Dickinson Conservation Districts Receive DEQ Recognition

Friday, April 04, 2014

Congratulations to the Barry and Dickinson Conservation Districts for receiving the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Nonpoint Source Program's recognition as 2013 Success Stories! 

The Nonpoint Source Program works with stakeholders at the watershed level to support the restoration and enhancement of Michigan's surface water resources by protecting waterbodies from nonpoint pollution sources. Nonpoint sources are the diffuse pollution sources that enter water bodies through multiple sources.

The Barry Conservation District was recognized for their leadership on the Nashville dam removal which took place in 2009. The removal of the dam and installation of a rock ramp restored the river's natural channel and hydraulics, which successfully increased Dissolved Oxygen concentrations to the point that the river is now meeting water quality standards. The success of this project will allow the DEQ to remove a 27 mile reach of the Thornapple River from the DEQ nonattainment list in 2014.  The dam removal also improved fish passage, wildlife and fish habitat and recreational opportunities.

The Dickinson Conservation District was recognized for the Fitzgerald Creek exclusion project which eliminated unlimited cattle access to the creek through the use of best management practices (BMPs) in 2007. The project was part of the Hamilton Creek Watershed project and included two livestock crossings, stream bank stabilization, and 5,510 linear feet of fence to exclude cattle from the stream and wetland. Results of this project showed greatly improved instream habitat and riparian conditions, including increased populations of macroinvertabrates.

The Barry and Dickinson Conservation Districts were recognized during the Michigan Water Environment Association's Watershed Summit which took place on March 26, 2014.

To learn more about these projects, visit the DEQ Water Resource Division's webpage: Updates from the Water Resource Division, or contact the Barry Conservation District or the Dickinson Conservation District,