Critical Conservation Areas – Great Lakes Region
Project: Maple Watershed Fish Habitat Improvement
Lead Partner: Institute of Water Research
The Maple River Watershed has experienced diminished fish habitat and degraded water quality as groundwater uses have expanded. Field crops in parts of the watershed require significant amounts of irrigation to produce maximum yields. Water withdrawals compete with subsurface flows feeding nearby streams impacting fish populations by changing stream temperature. Catchments in the Maple are in need of measures that offset the negative impacts of withdrawals on baseflow and temperatures. This project will improve fish habitat and water quality through a variety of conservation measures such as no till, buffer strips, and drainage management.
Project: Ann Arbor Greenbelt: Saving Michigan Farms
Lead Partner: City of Ann Arbor Greenbelt Program
Located near the struggling Western Lake Erie Basin and southeast Michigan’s rapidly growing Ann Arbor/Detroit metropolitan areas, the Ann Arbor Greenbelt: Saving Michigan Farms project provides an opportunity to protect agricultural lands key to food security and the local economies, preserve the agricultural heritage and quality of life of residents, and combat the NRCS resource concerns of water quality degradation, soil quality degradation and inadequate habitat for fish and wildlife.
Michigan Projects Selected - 2017
Critical Conservation Areas - Great Lakes Region Project: Lower Grand River Watershed Habitat Restoration - Farmland Conservation Project Lead Partner: Grand Valley Metro Council
The Watershed Habitat Restoration - Farmland Conservation Project addresses priority resource concerns in the Lower Grand River Watershed of water quality degradation and inadequate habitat for fish, wildlife and invertebrates. The project will use innovative, creative designs to revitalize 2.5 miles of the river flowing through Grand Rapids. The project will encourage conservation practices, possibly through financial assistance or cost share funds, using new technology in managing large river systems to address resource concerns.
State Project Project:The Huron River Initiative
Lead Partner: Legacy Land Conservancy
Through the Huron River Initiative, the Legacy Land Conservancy and partners will work with producers in the upper Huron River watershed to address soil quality degradation and water quality degradation – improving, sustaining and building upon the Emerald Arc of conserved lands in Southeast Michigan.
Michigan Projects Selected - 2016
Critical Conservation Areas - Great Lakes Region Project: Tribal Stream and Michigan Fruitbelt Collaborative Lead Partner: Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
To achieve long term restoration and protection of a multi-tribal fishery, partners will address aquatic organism passage, aquatic habitat and water quality resource concerns at 66 stream crossings and dams throughout northwest Lower Michigan. To ensure conservation investments are long lasting and not undermined by drastic changes in watershed hydrology, land conservancies will preserve nearly 3,000 acres of unique, specialty-crop agricultural land with permanent conservation easements in one of the fastest developing areas in the project area and Great Lakes. This additional land protection and stream work will help protect a major portion of the network of globally rare, cold and cool water, groundwater input, sandy substrate habitats connected by large forested corridors that deliver the highest quality water inputs and comprise the backbone of resiliency for the Great Lakes. Protection of water quality and re-connection of
aquatic habitat in this region is vital as these natural resources underpin two major and interdependent portions of Michigan's economy - agriculture and tourism.
Michigan Projects Selected - 2015
State Project Project: Training Foresters to Enhance Sustainable Management of Private Forest Land
Lead Partner: Michigan Department of Natural Resources - Forest Resources Division
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will partner with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to enhance private forest land in the state by providing training to both public and private sector professional land managers. NRCS will provide conservation financial assistance to forest landowners and the Michigan DNR will provide training to about 450 professional land managers. The Michigan DNR will train their staff on NRCS conservation programs and provide technical training to conservation district and private sector foresters. Those receiving the training will be able to advise forest landowners on how to utilize NRCS programs for addressing a variety of resource concerns that adversely impact soil and water quality.
Building on a strong existing partnership with NRCS, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) seeks to improve forest management on nearly 12,000 acres of nonindustrial forest land in order to provide essential habitat for the golden-winged warbler and other potential threatened and endangered (T&E) species. Partners will implement additional forest management on at least 52,000 acres on public and private lands. Goals of the project include achieving a better distribution of forest habitat to benefit potential T&E species, increasing the population of golden-winged warblers on private lands, and, ultimately, avoiding its listing under the Endangered Species Act. The listing decision is scheduled for 2017.
In 2020, Landowners in the Upper Peninsula counties of Baraga, Delta, Dickinson, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Mackinac, Marquette, Menominee, Ontonagon and Schoolcraft counties and the northern counties of Alcona, Antrim, Cheboygan, Emmet, Iosco, Kalkaska, Manistee, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego and Wexford counties are eligible to apply.
The partnership strives to find solutions to increasing groundwater withdrawals and sediment and nutrient loading that are economically good for the farmer but also have multiple conservation benefits, including optimizing groundwater use, improving infiltration, and reducing nutrients and sediment while also improving wildlife and fisheries habitat. Innovative methods to target high-priority areas and appropriate conservation practices will take an already developed watershed management plan to the next level. Monitoring will be used to adaptively manage this project at various levels, from the field-scale to the entire watershed. Partners have a strong history of working with both NRCS and producers.
Saginaw Bay, an embayment of Lake Huron, hosts the largest coastal wetland in Lake Huron and faces numerous water quality challenges, including loss of habitat, excessive nutrients and sediment, and algal blooms. This project will set ecologically relevant implementation goals, track progress using new online tools, and harness the influence of agribusiness as a complementary delivery mechanism in order to reach goals of treating 55,000 acres with conservation practices through EQIP and restoring 400 acres of wetlands through ACEP by 2019. The partners will track effectiveness using the Great Lakes Watershed Management System to quantify acres implemented and total sediment and nutrients reduced annually while also working with project partners to monitor long-term trends in fish community health.
A diverse team of partners will use a targeted approach to identify high-priority sub-watersheds for phosphorus reduction and increase farmer access to public and private technical assistance—including innovative demonstrations of practices that NRCS does not yet cover—in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. Identified actions are coordinated with the Ohio Phosphorus Task Force Report and will move Lake Erie toward goals developed in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement Annex 4 Nutrient Strategies. The partners will gauge success and monitor results using project-wide water quality monitoring and watershed modeling conducted by national experts from multiple scientific entities and institutions.