MACD News Blog

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.

Conservation Districts Awarded Cleanup Grants

Friday, April 05, 2013

Michigan Conservation Districts Rock!

"Wow" was my first thought when I received the April 4th DEQ and Great Lakes commission press release which announced the 2013 River, Stream and Creek Cleanup grants. 

I am proud as punch of Michigan's Conservation Districts and the amazing work they do.  As the local providers of natural resource management services, they provide the technical, educational, financial and just plain good old inspiration to help landowners, land managers and communities to conserve our lands and waterways.  

The announcement made by the DEQ and Great Lakes Commission is confirmation that Michigan Conservation Districts are ready once again to take the lead, in this case to dive in to address the trash in our treasured waterways.

Check out the many Conservation Districts in the list of groups selected to receive funds in 2013: 

·         City of Charlotte, “9th Annual River Cleanup Day” - $838.65
·         Germfask Township, “Manistique River Clean Up” - $845
·         City of Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Services, “A2 Keeping the River Clean” - $3,254
·         Tuscola Conservation District, “5th Annual Cass River Cleanup” - $600
·         Barry Conservation District, “18th Annual Thornapple River Clean Up” - $1,800
·         Macatawa Area Coordinating Council, “Macatawa River Volunteer Cleanup” - $1,000
·         City of Evart, “Muskegon River Cleanup” - $2,175
·         St. Joseph County Conservation District, “River Cleanup Project 2013” - $2,750
·         City of Grand Rapids, “10th Annual Mayors’ Grand River Cleanup” - $4,500
·         Hillsdale Conservation District, “Headwaters River Clean-up Project” - $2,653
·         Van Buren Conservation District, “River Rescue 2013” - $2,360
·         Shiawassee County Health Department, “16th Annual Shiawassee River Clean-up” - $1,875
·         City of Battle Creek, “2013 Global Citizens River Conservation Day” - $1,500
·         Calhoun Conservation District, “Klean the Kazoo” - $2,570
·         Jackson County Drain Commissioner, “Portage River Volunteer Cleanup” - $1,145
·         Monroe Conservation District, “River Raisin Rubbish Removal” - $2,538.91
·         Kent Conservation District, “Rogue River Cleanup” - $1,615.75
·         Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission, “Flint River Clean Up” - $2,900
·         Grand Traverse Conservation District, “9th Annual Boardman River Clean Sweep 2013” - $1,150
·         Mason-Lake Conservation District, “Pere Marquette Paddle Down-River Cleanup” - $945

Districts Get it Done!

Additional information on the Volunteer River, Stream, and Creek Cleanup Program is available online at