MACD News Blog

USDA Offers Conservation Assistance in Cass, Branch, Hillsdale and St. Joseph Counties to Alleviate Effects of Drought

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the availability of $75,000 in financial assistance available to help eligible crop and livestock producers in four Michigan counties cope with adverse impacts of the historic drought gripping the nation.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting applications from agricultural producers in Cass, Branch, Hillsdale and St. Joseph counties until Aug. 24. Financial assistance is available for producers to implement conservation practices that will help alleviate the drought’s impacts, and improve soil health and productivity.

Some practices eligible for financial assistance include cover crops, irrigation water management, prescribed grazing and livestock watering facilities. Eligible producers also can re-apply for financial assistance to re-apply failed conservation practices due to drought and modify existing contracts to re-schedule planned conservation practices.

USDA has also announced the following:


- Allowing producers to modify current EQIP contracts to allow for grazing, livestock watering, and other conservation activities to address drought conditions.
- Authorizing haying and grazing of Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) easement areas in drought-affected areas where haying and grazing is consistent with conservation of wildlife habitat and wetlands.

Producers in Cass, Branch, Hillsdale and St. Joseph are encouraged to contact their local conservation districts and USDA-NRCS staff members in the local USDA Service Centers to learn more about this drought assistance program.


For more information, producers and landowners can visit the NRCS website at www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov or their local USDA Service Center which houses the USDA-NRCS and the local Conservation District.

For more information and location of your local Conservation District, please visit www.macd.org.  

GM Foundation Provides $5,000 Grant to the Eaton Conservation District

Friday, August 03, 2012

With the help of GM Lansing Operations the General Motors Foundation will provide $5,000 to support the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) and the Eaton Conservation District to focus on the care and management of Michigan's natural resources.

The donation was made as part of the Foundation's Plant City Grants initiative that in 2012 will award more than $1 million to nearly 200 organizations in 43 plant cities where GM employees live and work. Through these grants, the GM Foundation is building stronger communities and enriching the lives of our neighbors.

GM Lansing Regional Manufacturing Engineering Director Jeff Bell made the award on behalf of the Foundation at the Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant habitat.

The General Motors Foundation grant will support MACDs efforts through programs at the Eaton Conservation District to encourage land users to adopt conservation practices that protect soil, water, and related natural resources.

“Investment in our community and environment is very important to us,” Bell said. “Lansing Delta Township Plant is a good example of how it’s possible to incorporate sustainable practices into large scale manufacturing facilities. MACD reinforces GM’s environmental goals with their commitment to improving the environment by conserving resources.”

Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant is gold certified from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. LEED certification is the building industry’s well-respected recognition of superior energy and environmental design and construction. Seventy-five acres has been set aside to preserve existing plants and wildlife habitat.

Andrea Stay, Executive Director from the Eaton Conservation District said: "We are fortunate to have General Motors as a local partner in our community. We have worked together on multiple events over the years including school presentations, Arbor Day celebrations, pollinator garden planting, Bioblitz, and the Woods and Water 5K.  We appreciate their dedication to natural resources, and to their local partners.”

The General Motors Foundation grants made across the country are given to a wide-variety of organizations that families rely on to provide much needed services, improve education and impact the quality of life within their respective communities. The grants to these organizations and institutions will make these communities even greater places to work, live and grow.

About the GM Foundation

Since its inception in 1976, the GM Foundation has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to deserving American charities, educational organizations and to disaster relief efforts worldwide. The GM Foundation focuses on supporting Education, Health and Human Services, Environment and Energy and Community Development initiatives, mainly in the communities where GM operates. Funding of the GM Foundation 


 


Michigan Drought Underscores Need for Long-Term Conservation Planning

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

This summer Michigan has been hit hard by a severe drought, with serious impacts across the state. According to the NOAA U.S. Drought Monitor, Southwest and Southcentral Michigan are experiencing the worst effects with extreme drought conditions, with the Southeast and thumb region not far behind. 

But it’s not just in our state. According to the National Climatic Data Center, this is the largest area of drought since the 1950s, with 55-percent of the country in at least moderate short-term drought in June. As a result, authorities have already declared more than 1,000 counties in 26 states as natural disaster areas. This is nearly two-thirds of the land in the lower 48 states.

These conditions are taking a major toll, not only on farmers and ranchers, but eventually on families around the world forced to pay more to put food on the table. 

Amidst these challenging times, we can feel reassured about one thing: despite the fact that our nation has not seen a drought of these proportions since the 1930s and 50s, we are not expected to enter into a modern-day Dust Bowl situation. 

There is a reason for this - and it's something that all of us in the conservation community can be proud of: careful, long-term nationwide conservation and production practices that started mainly in response to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The implementation of these practices has resulted in better protection of our precious soil and water resource base – the foundation of our nation’s food supply. 

So while we can’t control weather conditions, strong, locally-led conservation planning can help alleviate the impacts of extreme weather events in the future. Michigan Conservation Districts play a key role in this process by working with local producers and landowners to implement critical conservation practices on the ground. 

The current drought, and other extreme weather events we’ve seen in recent years, is just one more reason why it’s so important that Congress passes the 2012 Farm Bill before it expires in September. 

Both the bill that was passed by the full Senate, as well as the bill that is pending floor time in the House, include a strong Conservation Title that streamlines and consolidates programs for increased efficiency and ease-of-use for producers, while maintaining critical funding for all of the conservation purposes needed to implement conservation where it counts and preserve our resources for the future.

The bottom line is, it’s better to invest in long-term conservation measures today, than to be forced to pay for the escalated costs of repair in the future.


Spring!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tuesday, March 20 is first day of spring!  With the weather we are having in southern Michigan, spring has a significant jump start, with the daffodils blooming and the wetlands a chorus of song from Michigan's frogs and toads and many species of birds.   I encourage you to take a moment this week to visit a wetland near you to listen and see if you can name the species that are singing the songs of spring.  

An easy way to get started is to learn to identify Michigan's frogs and toads.  With only 13 native species of frogs and toads, they are easy to learn.  In early spring, only a few are calling and in my local wetland I have been able to identify four species at the time of this writing.

There are many resources available to help you learn the about our native frogs and toads and their songs.  The Michigan DNR web site (LINK) has detailed information on Michigan's frogs and toads and you can hear recordings of their songs by visiting the MSU Remote Environmental Assessment Laboratory web site (LINK).  For those die hard frog and toad enthusiasts the DNR Frog and Toad Survey provides a fun spring and early summer project.  Participants document frog and toad abundance and distribution, helping the state to monitor populations over the long term. To learn more about this program, visit the Michigan DNR Frog and Toad Survey page, (LINK)

Your local Conservation District is also a resource for printed materials and identification guides.  Many Districts have available for sale identification books and audio CDs with pictures, descriptions and quality recordings of Michigan's native frogs and toads so you can take your guides with you as you visit your local wetlands.

Have fun and happy listening!