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Michigan receives grant to help protect Western Lake Erie Basin
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Funds will be used to increase on-farm technical assistance and risk assessments.​

Michigan receives USDA-NRCS grant to help protect Western Lake Erie Basin

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Jamie Clover Adams announced Michigan farmers will receive $24.3 million in federal cost-share money from the United States Department of Agriculture’s-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS). The funding will be used for two key projects: one within the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) and the one within the Michigan/Indiana St. Joseph Watershed.

“This money goes directly to farmers to support new conservation practices. Our farmers are committed to implementing best management practices to safeguard Michigan’s water resources. These grants leverage MDARD, the conservation districts and other partners to provide education and technical services as farmers continue to work hard to protect these key watersheds,” said Clover Adams. “Our ability to match the USDA-NRCS grants with our Groundwater Fund was critical to drawing additional federal investment into protecting Michigan’s prized natural resources.”

Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin - $17.5 million (Michigan’s share - $3.1 million)

This tri-state partnership will help farmers continue to implement conservation practices reducing phosphorus and sediment run-off into the WLEB. MDARD will lead the program, working with Ohio, Indiana and more than 40 local partners including Michigan’s local conservation districts. The initiative will focus on the West Lake Erie Watershed providing technical assistance to farmers and producers in the WLEB. In Southeast Michigan, the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) model will be used to identify potential environmental risks and putting best management practices into place to minimize those risks.

Over the last two years, Michigan has conducted 98 MAEAP verifications in the basin resulting in 53,000 acres of farmland managed under nutrient and pesticide management plans, installed 500,000 feet of riparian filter strips and implemented 34,000 acres of conservation tillage practices - all of which protect the environment and water quality. Implementing these on-farm management practices kept 67,032 tons of sediment, 109,719 pounds of phosphorus and 231,069 pounds of nitrogen from feeding into Lake Erie. 

Michigan/Indiana St. Joseph River Watershed Conservation Partnership - $6.8 million

The Michigan/Indiana St. Joseph River Watershed Conservation Partnership is an innovative bi-state project addressing priority resource concerns in the St. Joseph River Watershed (SJRW) such as water quantity (large volume groundwater withdraw) and water quality (sediment and nutrient loading). The Partnership consists of 30 non-profit organizations and federal, state, local and tribal agencies.

The five-year, $6.8 million project will result in groundwater conservation, increased water infiltration, reduced phosphorus and sediment loading and increased habitat quality and quantity for fish and wildlife. The partnership will work with farmers to identify and address irrigation practices, nonpoint sources of nutrient and sediment loss, and wetland restoration to address resource concerns (improving water quantity and quality, soil health, fish and wildlife habitat) while optimizing agricultural productivity.

Through this project, the partnership projects:

•  46,200 tons of sediment reduction = 4,192 road commission (10-yard) dump trucks

•  116,200 pounds of P + 700 tons of N reduction = preventing enough nutrients that could grow a ¼” layer of algae on the largest lakes in six project area counties (Berrien, Branch, Cass, Elkhart, St. Joseph, Van Buren)

•  4.8 billion gallon reduction of irrigation water use = enough water to:

            * fill the Sears Tower 12 times, or
            * pour over Niagara falls in 9 hours, or
            * fill 7,273 Olympic-size swimming pools.

For more information on MAEAP, visit www.maeap.org. For additional details on the grants, go to USDA-NRCS’ website​.