The Gratiot Conservation District is pleased to announce a new soil saving incentive program in the Upper Bad River Watershed aimed at paying landowners to adopt conservation practices on high-risk fields with the intention of reducing the amount of sediment delivered to streams.
This pilot program will utilize a new online watershed management tool called the Great Lakes Watershed Management System developed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in partnership with Purdue University and the MSU-Institute of Water Research. The tool assesses how much sediment can be saved from entering streams by applying different Best Management Practices (BMPs) on the land and paying participants based on their actual sediment reduction performance rather than a set flat rate.
This pay-for-performance approach is the first of its kind in the Saginaw Bay Watershed and could be used as an example for future projects in other watersheds.
The funding for this project has been provided by a grant from the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) and will provide $118 thousand for contract payments to Gratiot County landowners who live in the Bad River Watershed. Participants will be compensated at a rate of $78.25 for every ton of sediment they prevent. The goal is that these incentive dollars will translate into 7,900 tons of sediment load reduction to the Saginaw Bay Watershed.
The Upper Bad River Watershed was selected for this pilot project because of its excessive sediment and nutrient load contributions to the Shiawassee River. Past Department of Natural Resources and TNC surveys of the Bad River have indicated poor water quality caused by sediment and a fish community of very low health.
The BMPs encouraged through the sediment reduction project are non-permanent, vegetative and residue management practices including cover crops, filter strips, grassed water ways, hayland plantings and reduced tillage practices. GCD hopes the program will find traction with those producers "on the fence" about conservation BMPs because the contracts are short term and the vegetative practices can be harvested for livestock or sold for income.
The Saginaw Bay Watershed is the largest watershed in Michigan. Its overall land use is 45 percent agricultural, while the land use within the Bad River Watershed is 86.5 percent agricultural.
For more information on the Upper Bad River Watershed Sediment Reduction Project contact GCD at (989) 875-3900 extension 180 or email GCD Watershed Technician Ben Wickerham at email@example.com.
Welcome Ben Wickerham, Watershed Coordinator/Technician! Ben has served as Regional Representative to Pheasants Forever, the Envirothon Coordinator for Mich. Assoc. of Cons. Districts (MACD), as Administrator/Education Coordinator at the Genesee CD, as Stream Profiling Coordinator for the Flint River Watershed Coalition, as a Watershed Coordinator for the Branch CD, as surveyor with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory and habitat maintenance & restoration projects with the DNR. Ben has a Bachelor’s in Zoology/Environmental Biology from Michigan State University.
Welcome Lindsey Martin, new MAEAP Technician covering Gratiot and Clinton Counties! Lindsey has a degree in Animal Science with a specialization in Agribusiness Management from Michigan State University. She has a strong dairy background from growing up and working on a dairy farm in Ionia. She has been active in the agriculture industry her whole life including involvement with the MSU Dairy Club, Ionia Farm Power Club, and the Ionia County Farm Bureau. Lindsey joins us after working for NorthStar Cooperative for more than five years where she performed multiple duties dealing with large herd reproductive health, milk analyses and consultation, and accounting support. Lindsey can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on her cell phone at (989) 640-4508.
What Is MAEAP?
What is the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP)? MAEAP is a confidential, helpful process of working with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to meet environmental laws. It is a comprehensive, voluntary, proactive program designed to reduce farmers’ legal and environmental risks through a three-phase process.
1) Education, 2) Farm-specific Risk Assessment, and 3) On-farm Verification that ensures the farmer has implemented environmentally sound practices. The program’s three systems (Farmstead, Cropping, and Livestock) each examine different aspects of the farm.
If you want more information on MAEAP please contact MAEAP Technician Lindsey Martin at (989) 640-4508
Monique has recently been awarded a Wildlife Habitat Restoration grant from the DNR to improve a property in south east Gratiot County! The property serves as a connector between the Maple River State Game Area and the Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area. To complete the project we are doing the following: planting cool season grasses as food & cover, planting switchgrass as nesting cover & winter cover, planting a food plot of corn, removing several trees that are being used as perches for predator birds (the trees will be re-used on the property as brush piles), removing a line of invasive shrubs & re-planting with native shrubs, and preparing the property as a demo site to be used as an example of quality habitat restoration. She is also working on similar projects in both Saginaw and Clinton Counties to be considered for the next round of DNR funding. If you see Monique, give her a high-five for her hard work in restoring wildlife habitat!
Monique Ferris has been working for the Gratiot Conservation District for almost a year and has fit right in to the community! Previously she worked as a seasonal Ecologist surveying state game areas, as naturalist interpreter and parks program director for the DNR, interned with the National Wildlife Federation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and studied abroad in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. She graduated from CMU with a Bachelor’s in Biology & Earth Science, and got her Master’s in Biology at EMU.
Do you want to increase pheasants in your area? Now’s the time to get involved! We need landowners in several regions of Gratiot County to sit down with us and discuss ways to enhance pheasant habitat. We’ll buy the pizza and provide the agenda, you help us set a date & time. Give us a call if you live near any of the following: Riverdale, Elm Hall, Forest Hill, Elwell, Sumner, Eugene, New Haven Center, Newark Center, Sethton, Middleton, Perrinton, Pompeii, Brice, Maple River State Game Area, Ola, Ashley, Bannister, Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area, North Star, Sickles, Edgewood, Beebe, Rathbone, Galloway, Langport, Breckenridge, or Wheeler.
Pheasants Co-ops are easy and fun and benefit more than just pheasants! Other wildlife will also appreciate the enhanced habitat.
If you’d like to get involved, contact your local biologist at the Gratiot Conservation District, Monique Ferris, 989-875-3900 ext. 101 or on her cell phone at 989-621-3617.
The Gratiot Conservation District has begun a comprehensive study of the prevalence of Autumn Olive and Phragmites in this area. We are taking an inventory of the number of acres of Autumn Olive and Phragmites that is currently present in Gratiot County. If you have Autumn Olive or Phragmites growing on your property or know of some near you, we’d like to hear from you. Efforts are underway to help alleviate the spread of these invasive species but we need your help to identify their locations. If you’ve already called, there’s no need to call again; we have your data already noted!
Within the next year we will be coming around to map the locations to be included on the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network. If you would like to participate in the mapping project, we will be doing volunteer training in the upcoming months. Give us a call and we’ll get you signed up.
Please contact the Gratiot Conservation District at 989-875-3900 ext 5 if you suspect that you have Autumn Olive or Phragmites growing near you.