Announcements

MACD and MDARD Host Webinar on FY22 Operations Grant

MACD and MDARD Host Webinar on FY22 Operations Grant

On Wednesday, October 20th, MACD and MDARD held a webinar on the new operations grant being offered by the State of Michigan for Conservation Districts. The webinar included an overview of benchmarks, grant reporting, and other requirements. You can view the webinar below:

Genesee CD Digs Deep for UAC Grant

Genesee CD Digs Deep for UAC GrantGenesee CD UAC Grant - Urban Conservation Project

When Genesee Conservation District wins a grant, wow! They dig right in and don't mess around.

After receiving the 2020 Urban Agriculture Conservation (UAC) Grant -- a joint initiative with the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) -- Genesee CD got right down to work leveraging several potential District projects and aligning them with the goals of their UAC Grant.
 
To start, Genesee Conservation District (GCD) wasted no time fostering partnerships to transform three vacant city lots into public greenspaces.

With assistance from a local tree service, an invasive species treatment company, and the General Motors (GM) Cares group of volunteers, GCD removed unwanted trees, trimmed overgrown vegetation, and treated or removed invasive plants and trees, making way for a new installation.

Seven park-grade trees were planted, with GCD and GM planting over 1,000 wildflower plugs, plants and grasses. While the transformative nature of the greenspaces is the attraction, tree stumps and park benches were installed to invite people to best utilize the spaces.

GCD also used the UAC grant to address the need for greater natural resource education, primarily geared toward urban conservation and community forestry. The District developed three videos, as well as brochures and updated outreach materials, which are also available through GCD's website. Additionally, they reached out directly to the community through public presentations.
 
Again leveraging local partnerships and Arbor Day 2020, GCD also helped plant trees with the Michigan State University Alumni Group of Genesee County and Genesee Eyewear to promote Arbor Day and the City of Flint’s 'Tree City USA' status.
 
But wait, there's more! GCD also identified two pathways to assist in fortifying their local food system. First, they managed the Hurley Hospital’s Garden, which supplies fresh produce to its Hurley Foundation Food FARMacy.

GCD also identified ways to address issues on the supply side of our local food system by consulting faculty and staff from Michigan State University’s Department of Community Sustainability.

Together, they developed a survey to gather information from local growers participating in various state and federal agriculture programs. Since GCD has a USDA high-tunnel initiative, the survey looked at farmers using high tunnels compared to those not using high tunnels. The report gives GCD and its partners information to further improve Genesee's local food system.

Way to hustle hard with your 2020 UAC Grant, Genesee CD! Hope you've taken a moment to soak in some of your awesome work -- maybe unwinding a bit at one of your THREE new invasive-species-free greenspaces. Well done!

Many thanks to NACD for contributing to this story.

FY 2022 Budget Headed to the Governor's Desk to be Signed, Including $3 Million for Michigan's Conservation Districts

FY 2022 Budget Headed to the Governor's Desk, Including $3 Million for Michigan's Conservation Districts


Today, the Michigan House of Representatives passed SB 82, the general appropriations act for government operations for FY '21-22. MACD is thrilled to report that due to our advocacy efforts, included in the bill was a $3 million appropriation for base-line operational support for all 75 of Michigan's Conservation Districts ($40,000 per district)! Today's passing of SB 82 represents a victory that was years in the making. Since 2009, despite being mandated under state law, Michigan's CDs haven't received a cent in state funding for operational expenses, outside of administrative support for specific grant-based programming.

Details on the operational grant requirements and benchmarks will be announced later, as MACD continues conversations with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

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MACD State Council Votes to Move 2021 Fall Convention to Virtual Setting

MACD State Council Votes to Move 2021 Fall Convention to Virtual Setting

Today at the MACD State Council Quarterly meeting, in the interest of the health and well-being of the entire Michigan Conservation District community, the State Council voted unanimously to move the 2021 Fall Convention to a virtual setting.

"Given the current rise of COVID-19 cases throughout the state, the high likelihood that our Federal and State partners would be prohibited from traveling, and the significant number of MACD members that have expressed concerns over meeting in person; the State Council concluded that moving the 2021 Fall Convention is the best course of action," stated MACD President Gerald Miller. He continued, "We would love to meet in person, as many new staff and directors haven't yet had the opportunity to meet their colleagues from around the state face-to-face, but until the pandemic subsides to safe levels, MACD feels it would be irresponsible to move forward with plans to reconvene in that setting."

MACD Executive Director Dan Moilanen expressed, "While disappointing, as I still haven't met a majority of our members in person, having only started in this role earlier this year; I agree with the State Council's decision and believe this is the best course of action. We still have a great slate of programming coming together that I think will be really engaging for the Michigan Conservation community." He continued, "Despite the lack of networking opportunities, sometimes the virtual setting presents perks like the capacity to record all sessions which can then be accessed at a later date. Also, for those with busy schedules or limited travel budgets, the virtual setting can be more accessible."

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Update on 2021 MACD Fall Convention

Update on 2021 MACD Fall Convention

The health and safety of the Conservation District community remains the highest priority to the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts. MACD is paying close attention to the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan and checking Delta Variant case number data on a daily basis. The MACD State Council will decide whether or not the 2021 Fall Convention will be in person, later this week when it convenes for its quarterly meeting.

Once a decision has been made, MACD will have additional information regarding registration and further details. Please check back next week, or look to your inboxes for an update accordingly.

Conservation District Day 2021 is Here!

Conservation District Day 2021 is Here!

By proclamation of Governor Whitmer no less, we are thrilled to celebrate Conservation District Day 2021 with all of Michigan's wonderful and hard-working Conservation Districts.

To help kick off CD Day, which lands on a Saturday this year, check out MDARD's "Fresh from the Field" podcast interview with MACD President and Kent CD Board President Jerry Miller, where he gives the low-down on what CDs are, why no-till farming rocks, and why Conservation Districts are so pivotal to the ecological and economic future of the Great Lakes State.

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USDA Secretary Vilsack Talks Ag Aid in Michigan

USDA Secretary Vilsack Talks Ag Aid in Michigan Ag secretary: US needs better programs for long-term drought (The Detroit News)

Michigan welcomed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack with a series of in-person agricultural outreach events in early June.

Vilsack's visit comes hot on the heels of the White House announcing over $5 billion in potential funding for U.S. agricultural supply chain and conservation land management through its Build Back Better initiative. The USDA also announced this Spring over $6 billion in additional ag and food production aid through the USDA Pandemic Assistance effort.

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Support for MAEAP Funding Bill Grows

Support for MAEAP Funding Bill GrowsMAEAP Verified Farmer (Megan DeLeeuw of Hand Sown Farm - Washtenaw Co)

Michigan agricultural and conservation groups are joining forces to support Senate Bill 494, so that vital fee-based funding can continue for one of our state's vital conservation programs -- the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP).

Sponsored by fellow farmer Sen. Kevin Daley (31st Dist.), the bill renews agricultural fees that help fund the MAEAP program's work with farms to protect water quality and soil health.

Specifically, the legislation seeks to:

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Ottawa & Huron CDs Net Water Quality Grants

EGLE LogoMassive congrats to Ottawa and Huron Conservation Districts on their winning grant proposals totaling $1,691,065 from EGLE (The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy), awarded last week to support the Districts' watershed management projects benefitting wetlands, lakes, and streams.

Ottawa & Huron CDs each received the following project funding to reduce sediment, nutrients, and other contaminants to help restore impaired water bodies and protect high-quality water bodies:

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Three CDs Score EGLE Watershed Grants

EGLECongratulations to Chippewa Luce Mackinac, Genessee, and Isabella Conservation Districts on receiving grants totaling $102,495 to support their Conservation Districts' watershed projects from The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) this week.

The Watershed Council Support grants are funded under Michigan’s Public Act 166 of 2020.  Grants were limited to $40,000 per applicant and the projects must be put into action within a year of receiving the grants.

These hard-working districts received the following grant awards for their proposed watershed projects:
    •    Chippewa Luce Mackinac Conservation District: $40,000
    •    Genesee Conservation District: $31,500
    •    Isabella Conservation District: $30,995

The grants are issued by EGLE’s Nonpoint Source Program, which helps local stakeholders reduce pollution and excess runoff by supporting efforts to develop and launch watershed management plans. The Nonpoint Source Program issues an annual request for proposals for projects, with the next request for proposals available in mid-July. It will be posted at Michigan.gov/NPS.

MACD Unveils New Logo!

The Michigan association of Conservation Districts is pleased to unveil our new logo.

After a year long development process, involving a committee of multiple MACD members, who collectively represented a diverse group of Michigan’s Conservation Districts, we’re excited to share the results.

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MACD Issues Statement on Michigan House Appropriations Omitting Conservation District Funding from FY'22 Budget.

Yesterday, the Michigan House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted down a budgetary request for funding all 75 of Michigan Conservation Districts in a strict 17-12 vote along party lines. The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts urges Michigan House Republicans to change course, and fully fund Michigan's Conservation Districts.


"I'm extremely disappointed with yesterday's display of partisanship. It ultimately hurts the thousands of farmers and landowners around Michigan, who receive free technical assistance and support from Michigan's Conservation Districts. Conservation is a bipartisan issue that affects all Michiganders. In my mind, there is no sound reason, why we shouldn't fund Michigan's Conservation Districts," stated MACD Executive Director Dan Moilanen. He continued, "We (MACD) met with 
several members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Natural Resources. In those meetings, House Republican Caucus members were very supportive of moving forward on funding Michigan's Conservation Districts. Yesterday's about-face by House Republicans feels like a betrayal to their constituencies who greatly benefit from their local Conservation Districts."

MACD requested $3 million in general funding, to be administered through the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), which would allocate $40,000 per district for fiscal year '22.

Moilanen expressed, "After general funding was cut by the State Legislature 12 years ago, we've witnessed operational capacity diminish among the majority of Conservation Districts around the state. Many of those districts do not receive any funding in the form of grants or other programs through the State. This is yet another blow to the natural environment in Michigan, and the continued dis-investment in local conservation efforts will mean environmental disasters like the algal blooms in the Western Lake Erie Basin and Saginaw Bay, could potentially worsen, affecting the drinking water sources for millions of Americans."

Michigan's Conservation Districts work with local farmers and landowners by providing technical assistance to reduce nitrogen and phosphate run-off into watersheds, like the Western Lake Erie Basin, Saginaw Bay, and Green Bay. 

"Farmers can be resistant to adopting new practices in their operations, and the technical assistance that's provided by local Conservation Districts has been shown time-and-time again to be an effective method in helping them manage their soil, preventing run-off into our fresh water systems," stated MACD President Gerald Miller, PhD. Miller spent his professional career working in soil and water management, and has more than 35 years of experience working with soil and water conservation districts. He continued, "As a retired scientist and academic, who conducted applied research, served as a professor, and Extension specialist for soil, water and watershed management and soil survey and land use; I can tell you with confidence that Conservation Districts are a proven mechanism for addressing larger environmental issues created by poor soil management."

Moilanen expressed, "We're talking about a tiny drop in a very large 'State budget' bucket. A small investment of $3 million in Michigan's Conservation Districts will result in a substantial return for the state of Michigan, in the form of Federal Farm Bill dollars, where 100% of funds go to local farmers and landowners."










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MACD Issues Statement Condemning Changes in State Budget Appropriations Process

MACD Issues Statement Condemning Changes in State Budget Appropriations Process

Today, the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts sent a letter to members of the Michigan House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Natural Resources; urging them to reverse course on proposed changes in the appropriations process. The letter is as follows:

Dear Representatives,

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2021 Stewardship Week for Healthy Trees & Communties

2021 Stewardship Week: "Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities"

2021 Stewardship Week

Welcome to 2021 Stewardship Week, which starts this Sunday, April 25, and runs through Sunday, May 2. This year's theme is "Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities".

This year the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), who hosts the national Stewardship Week every year, chose to focus this year's theme on the lungs of our land -- TREES! -- and how they impact the health of our local communities.

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Congrats on the Grants!

Congrats on the Grants!

Michigan CDs Bring in the Green with 2021 Funding Awards

A variety of 2021 grant awards were announced this week that will contribute much-needed funds to several Michigan Conservation Districts. Our congratulations to all of the successful applicants for the following grant programs!


Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program (MISGP)

This year's Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program (MISGP) has awarded a total of $1,841,100 to Michigan Conservation Districts! This program is designed to address strategic issues of prevention, detection, eradication, and control for both terrestrial and aquatic invasive species in Michigan. An especially pivotal endeavor this year, after last year's funding freeze during the vital invasive species intervention seasons of Spring and Summer 2020.

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Save the Date - 2021 MACD Virtual Summer Conference

MACD to host 2021 Summer Conference Virtually on June 6th and 7th!

 

MACD Thanks Lori Phalen, Retiring Executive Director

MACD Thanks Lori Phalen, Retiring Executive Director

Lori Phalen

When we transitioned into 2021, a very special era ended as Lori Phalen stepped down as MACD's Executive Director.

It's been a busy year already, but we very much want to give a massive "Thank you!" (and a bittersweet farewell) to Lori as she embraces her well-earned retirement from the ED position. (Lucky for us, Lori will continue supporting MACD as our Grant Coordinator -- we couldn't let her go that fast.)

Lori has served as MACDs Executive Director for over 14 years, and has been pivotal to the success of MACD through her tenure. Her passion and advocacy have inspired many to take an active role in the conservation of Michigan’s natural resources.

Behind the scenes, Lori was a “Jill of all Traits,” juggling tasks from event management to fundraising to program development to website developing (including this one). Her tireless hours of dedication reflected her passion for Michigan’s natural resources.



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MACD Issues Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity

MACD Issues Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity

Michigan Association of Conservation Districts leaders are deeply repulsed by the acts of violence, xenophobia, racism, and bigotry occurring across our state and nation. We are horrified and angered by the recent series of attacks against members of the Asian and Asian-American communities. We condemn these and all acts of violence, xenophobia, racism, and bigotry. Everyone should be able to pursue their life goals without fear of being targeted.

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MACD Urges Michigan Legislature to Extend Open Meetings Act Amendments Allowing Remote Participation

MACD Urges Michigan Legislature to Extend Open Meetings Act Amendments Allowing Remote Participation  

The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts urges the Michigan Legislature to extend the amendments to the Open Meetings Act, allowing remote/digital participation to continue indefinitely as outlined in House Bill 4371 introduced by Rep. Cara Clemente.

Conservation Districts are unique local units of government that are the local providers of natural resource management services; utilizing state, federal, and private sector resources to solve today’s conservation challenges. In order to be held accountable by the voting public, as local units of government we are legally required to adhere to the Open Meetings Act.

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MACD Hires Dan Moilanen as New Executive Director

MACD Hires Dan Moilanen as New Executive Director 

MACD Dan Moilanen Executive Director

The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) announced today it has hired Dan Moilanen to lead as the organization’s new Executive Director.

Lori Phalen, the current Executive Director, is retiring effective December 31 after 14 years of service in the position.

Looking to MACD's future, Moilanen sees Conservation Districts as the key touchpoint for integrating conservation work into local communities, and improving the natural health and habitat of Michigan's many unique regions.

“As the ‘boots on the ground’ in our communities across the state, Michigan's Conservation Districts will continue to play a pivotal role in protecting our natural resources by promoting sustainable practices, reforestation efforts, and other critical conservation work," Moilanen said.

Moilanen has held a variety of legislative, political, and community-focused roles, and is a graduate of Albion College. He is the current Board Chair of the Genesee County Conservation District. Moilanen is also the former Owner of Vehicle City Tacos, a popular downtown Flint business.

“Dan Moilanen brings a wealth of experience in small business ownership, community service, and political engagement to the position as Executive Director,” said Jerry Miller, MACD President and Kent County
Conservation District Board Chair.

“I have enjoyed serving with Dan on the Genesee Conservation District Board, and look forward to working with him as he transitions into his new position as Executive Director of MACD,” said Nancy Szikszay, Genesee County farmer and Board Member of the Genesee County Conservation District.

Dan Moilanen New Executive Director MACD

MACD is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that was established in 1937 through the monumental Soil Conservation District Law in response to the Dust Bowl and extreme drought across the country. The Association consists of 75 locally-led Conservation Districts that assist farmers, producers, and foresters with implementing conservation practices across Michigan’s 83 counties.

While the work of Michigan’s Conservation Districts has evolved over the last 83 years, the core mission has remained the same: protect Michigan’s natural resources and empower all Michiganders to do the same.

“As a life-long outdoorsman and environmentalist, I consider conservation and environmental stewardship a sacred duty,” said Moilanen.

"As MACD's Executive Director, I will advocate for member districts and do everything I can to help build capacity in our local units of government to secure a financially sound future.”

Moilanen will officially begin his position on January 4, 2021.

To learn more about the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts, visit macd.org.