MACD News Blog

Van Buren Conservation District Recognized

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Van Buren Conservation District recognized for dedicated work with local farmers

Bellaire, MI - At the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts Annual Convention, the Van Buren Conservation District was honored with the MAEAP Grant Host of the Year award from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. The Award was given for the continued support for the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) and the programs push to help Michigan farmers become, and continue to be, better stewards of the land. Van Buren Conservation District staff attended the conference and accepted the honorable award in front of representatives from other Conservation District, as well as representatives from various state and federal agencies. "We are pleased to have received this award. We have a great team here at the Van Buren Conservation District. Our staff is very knowledgeable and hardworking but the real recognition should go to the farmers across Michigan that are working hard not only for the production of crops but the effort that is being made to change their operation and practices to help keep our environment clean and safe." says AJ Brucks, Executive Director.

The goal of the MAEAP Program is to offer free, confidential, and non-regulatory farm assessments that assist farmers in complying with state and federal laws and Michigan Right to Farm guidelines. The assessments evaluate practices on the farm such as fertilizer, fuel and pesticide storage and practices that take place in the field such as pesticide and fertilizer application, irrigation utilization and overall recordkeeping.

Practices found with the potential to cause adverse environmental impacts are logged in as a "to-do list" for the producer and MAEAP technicians to complete. When a potential impact is reduced it is known as a "Risk Reduction".  Risk Reductions can be the closing of an unused well, pouring a concrete pad for the transfer of fuels, or erecting a building designed specifically for fertilizer and pesticide storage.

Once a farm has completed their "to-do list" and reduced their impacts on environmental concerns, meaning they are doing the best they can to keep water quality, soil quality and overall health of their farm to the best standard possible, they can then become MAEAP Verified by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. A MAEAP Verification is recognition from the State that all practices, procedures and operations done on the farm are environmentally sound according to Michigan' s Generally Accepted Agricultural Practices (GAAMPS). Producers obtaining this Verification may choose to post a sign at their farm site to let friends, neighbors, and customers know that environmental stewardship is important to the farm owners and operators.  "MAEAP verification on the farm takes time and hard work; our farmers are making good conscious decisions about their practices to help protect our community," states Kyle Mead, Van Buren Conservation District's MAEAP technician. "You may recognized the blue, green and white sign that reads MAEAP Verified throughout Van Buren County and across Michigan".

The Van Buren Conservation District has been a partner and grant host for MAEAP since the program began in 2000. Van Buren Conservation District is one the top Districts in the state, ranked in the top five Counties for MAEAP Farm Verifications, they also holds many educational field days for farmers, recycling events for homeowners, river cleanups, plant and tree sales.

For more information about MAEAP or the Van Buren Conservation District visit or call 269-657-4030 ext. 5.

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.

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,

Conservation Districts Awarded DEQ Funding for Scrap Tire Cleanups

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wayant announced on Friday, March 14th, the grant awards for the 2014 Scrap Tire Cleanup Program.  MACD is pleased that five Conservation Districts were awarded a total of $56,500 for scrap tire cleanup days in their local communities:

Hillsdale Conservation District: $45,000

Jackson Conservation District: $12, 500

Mason-Lake Conservation District: $3,000

Missaukee Conservation District: $3,000

Ogemaw Conservation District: $3,000

Several other communities were awarded funding through the program which in 2014 will provide funding for the complete cleanup of seven scrap tire sites and 27 community cleanup days.  To learn more about the program, visit the DEQ Scrap Tire Program Page.  To learn more about the Conservation Districts that received a Scrap Tire Program grant, click on the name of the Conservation District above.

To view the grant announcement press release, click here.