Welcome Ben Wickerham to Our Conservation Team!

The Gratiot Conservation District would like to welcome Ben Wickerham as our new Watershed Technician/Coordinator for our “Bad River Watershed Sedimentation Reduction Plan" for which we recently received funding through the Great Lakes Commission. Ben brings with him a great deal of knowledge and experience in working with conservation projects throughout the State of Michigan. In recent years Ben has served as the national office Regional Representative to Michigan’s 37 chapters with Pheasants Forever, worked as the Michigan Envirothon Coordinator for the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD), served as the Administrator/Education Coordinator for the Genesee Conservation District, worked as a Stream Profiling Coordinator for the Flint River Watershed Coalition, worked as a Watershed Project Coordinator for the Branch County Conservation District, served as a surveyor & research assistant with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory and worked on several habitat maintenance and restoration projects with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Ben completed his undergraduate studies at Michigan State University with a degree in General Zoology and a concentration in Environmental Biology. We look forward to having him join our conservation team here in Gratiot County and encourage you to stop by the office to welcome Ben to the Conservation District. Sincerely, Julie Spencer, Gratiot Conservation District Administrator

2014 Gratiot County Plat Books Are Here!

Gratiot Conservation District now has the 2014 Gratiot County Plat Book available for sale!

Hello Everyone, I just wanted to be the first to share the good news. After almost two years of working on it, the 2014 Gratiot County Plat Book is here in my office. If you would like to purchase one, they are still only $30 a book. But, they have the added value of providing an aerial photo accompanying every township's plat map. The books are beautiful and I can't wait to share them with you. Stop by the office to see them or send me a check for $30 + $2 S/H and I'll mail you one (sorry we are not able to accept credit cards). These are here just in time for Christmas presents! I'm very excited about the results and thankful for all the help from our office staff and our publisher, Mapping Solutions.

Thanks for all of your support of the Gratiot Conservation District. I look forward to many more years of service to our community! -Julie

Julie L. Spencer
Gratiot Conservation District Administrator
301 Commerce Drive
Ithaca, MI 48847
989-875-3900 Ext 5
989-560-1144 Cell Phone


Help Wanted: No-till Drill Technician

Must have own, reliable truck capable of hauling a 15’ No-till Drill and a 6’ Native Grass Drill throughout Gratiot County on an as-needed basis. Hourly wage plus mileage and referral bonus. Ability to store the drills on your property a plus. Needed ASAP. Call Julie Spencer at the Gratiot Conservation District at 989-875-3050 or 989-560-1144 or stop in at the office in the USDA Service Center at 301 E. Commerce Dr. in Ithaca between 9-2 Mon-Thurs.

Living Forest Tree Assemblies

Ready to go to the assembly!

The Gratiot County Community Foundation has awarded us a generous grant in support of our Living Forest lesson that we do in the spring!

Each year the Gratiot Conservation District gives the second graders in Gratiot County a free tree seedling. This spring the kids have the opportunity to learn more about trees, the value and importance of them, and how to plant and care for their tree.

Are you ready to learn about trees and become a Living Forest?

Okay, everybody stand up, plant your roots and spread out your branches!

Now, if you're a forest, you're going to have animals living around you!

Will you hold my bunny? Now, take good care of that bunny! You are now that bunny's home!

How about a bear? a wolf? a turtle?

Now, what kinds of things do we make from trees? How about...toilet paper?

Now, you've been chopped down to be made into a roll of paper towel! So, sit down!

What other kinds of things do we make from trees? Books? Furniture? Newspapers? Houses?

What about bugs? What do bugs do to trees? Here...catch!

There are a lot of reasons why we lose trees.

Sometimes it's to a storm or wildfire, sometimes it's an infestation of an invasive species. sometimes they are used to make the goods we use everyday, and sometimes they are turned into fire wood to heat our homes.

As long as we are planting as many trees as we are using, trees are considered a "renewable resource"!

No, you can't keep my bunny! She has to come with me to the next class!

The above photos were from my assembly at Fulton Elementary. Below are some photos from my time at Breckenridge Elementary:

Want to see last year's Living Forest pictures? Click here for the link!

-Julie Spencer
Gratiot Conservation District Administrator
301 E. Commerce Dr
Ithaca, MI 48847

Thank You to the Gratiot County Community Foundation

The Gratiot County Community Foundation has awarded us a generous grant in support of our Living Forest lesson that we do in the spring!

Second Graders Becoming a Living Forest:

Each year the Gratiot Conservation District gives the second graders in Gratiot County a free tree seedling. This past spring the kids had the opportunity to learn more about trees, the value and importance of them, and how to plant and care for their tree.

The second graders became a living forest! They learned to thin their forest by holding out their ‘branches’ so that they were rooted far enough apart, then received stuffed animals and paper towel rolls and books and magazines to learn about the animals that live in the forest and the reasons why trees are cut down to make the goods we use everyday. They learned about invasive bugs and forest fires and lightning and wind storms that cause us to lose trees.

These exercises helped the kids to recognize the importance of planting more trees to replace the ones that are lost.

This helped them to understand that trees are a renewable resource and that when they plant their little tree, they are helping to ensure that we will always have a thriving forest!

Altogether about 575 second graders in Gratiot County got to participate in the Living Forest lesson and almost 1,000 trees were donated to local kids!

This coming spring the Living Forest lessons will be sponsored by the Gratiot County Community Foundation from the Clyde and Maude Mizer Memorial Fund! We wish to thank them for their generous support!

Call for Directors

The Gratiot Conservation District is in need of a couple of new Directors and new Associate Directors. If you are interested in being considered to be on our Board of Directors, please call our office at 989-875-3050 for more details and how to be considered for one of our open positions.

2014 Gratiot County Plat Book in Planning Stage

The Gratiot Conservation District is now working on the 2014 Plat Book for Gratiot County. If you would like to have your company featured in the new Plat Book, call our office for advertising insertion order and other details. Prime locations within the book will be offered on a first-come first-served basis, so if you are interested in placing an ad in the books contact the office as soon as possible!

Developing a Watershed Management Plan for the Upper Pine River

We are in the initial stages of developing a watershed management plan for the upper Pine River and we would like your input and support. Watershed planning brings together the people within a watershed to evaluate the quality of the land and water, without regards to political boundaries. A watershed includes all the land that drains to a common point, in this case the Pine River. The rationale for watershed management is that if we properly manage activities on the land, we will protect and improve the water resources within the lakes and streams.

There are many locations within the Pine River Watershed that show signs of impairment, and we would like your help to identify them. Some examples of impairments include sediment buildup in the stream bed, algal blooms, erosion of road-stream crossings, failing septic systems, stream bank erosion, etc. Basically, anything that interferes with Michigan’s identified designated uses would be considered an impairment. According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), all surface waters are designated for and shall be protected for the following uses: agriculture, industrial water supply, public water supply at the point of intake, navigation, warm water fishery, other indigenous aquatic life and wildlife, partial body contact recreation, and total body contact recreation between May 1st and October 31st. There are places in the Pine River that are so built up with sediment that ducks can walk across the stream. Other locations have degraded habitat for fish and an obvious reduction in wildlife. Some areas of the stream have non-native plant build-up that has choked out the natural flow of the river.

We need letters of support: If you are aware of specific locations that shows signs of impairment, please jot down as much information as you can to help us identify where we can begin our study. Include in your letter a brief description of the area of impairment, the changes you have witnessed over the years, the geographic location of the impairment (including a map if possible), the changes you would like to see, and your interest in supporting the project.

The watershed management plan could take up to 12-24 months to develop, and then another 12-24 months to implement the identified projects. Because this plan is in its infancy, we are looking for local support. We know that there are many opportunities to improve the Pine River Watershed and the sooner they are identified, the sooner we can make some improvements. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to working with you as this project goes forward.

2014 Plat Book in the Works - Ad Space Now Available!

We are now in the process of planning the 2014 Gratiot County Plat Book and advertising space is available. Space is limited and is available on a first-come basis. For details and rates, call me between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday at our office 989-875-3050 or after hours on my cell phone at 989-560-1144. I'm also available anytime by email at julie.spencer@macd.org Thanks, Julie

Julie L. Spencer
Gratiot Conservation District Administrator
301 Commerce Drive
Ithaca, MI 48847
989-875-3900 Ext 115
989-560-1144 Cell Phone