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MACD Hosts 2022 Capitol Day in Lansing

MACD Hosts 2022 Capitol Day in Lansing

On Thursday, May 19th, the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts hosted a Capitol Day in Lansing, where we were joined by dozens of MACD members representing Conservation Districts throughout the state, including parts of Northern Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. Throughout the day, District Directors, Administrators, and Staff connected with their legislators one-on-one to make the case for renewing the $1 million "one-time" funding for the FY23 budget, via the MDARD Conservation Districts Operations Grant program.


"Our work is about trust. We build relationships with local landowners so that we can provide the voluntary, non-regulatory technical assistance critical for implementing conservation on private and public land. 72% of all land in Michigan is privately owned, and Conservation Districts are the time-tested system for delivering conservation practices on private land," stated MACD Executive Director Dan Moilanen during his presentation at the "Lunch and Learn Event" in the House Office Building Mackinac Room. He continued, "If the State of Michigan renews the $1 million in funding, and considers increasing funding to levels similar to what neighboring states fund their districts, this will help Michigan's districts stabilize their operations so that they can better retain staff and maintain the relationships they have with local landowners. With the foundation of our work being about the trust farmers and landowners have with their local CD government, high staff turnover significantly affects our capacity to successfully deliver conservation programming."


Following MACD's presentation, a panel discussion was hosted where a deeper conversation occurred about the need for long-term, stable state funding for Michigan's Conservation Districts. The panel consisted of Michigan Association of Conservation Districts President Gerald Miller (Chair of Kent Conservation District), Conservation District Employees of Michigan President Melissa Eldridge, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Conservation Programs Manager John Switzer, and U.S. Department of Agriculture - Natural Resource Conservation Service State Conservationist Garry Lee. MACD's partners spoke at length about the need for increased funding for Michigan's Conservation Districts.

"The more stable districts are, the more they are able to deliver on Federal Farm Bill programs that put dollars directly into the pockets of local farmers' and landowners, stimulating local economies. Michigan consistently ranks behind other Midwest states in total Farm Bill contracts, largely due to the fact that until FY22 our districts received zero operational funding from the state," stated MACD President Gerald Miller. He continued, "Due to our work being non-regulatory and voluntary, Conservation Districts are best positioned to address massive environmental challenges like the algal blooms in the Western Lake Erie Basin and Saginaw Bay watersheds, an issue that affects the drinking water sources for millions of people. We just need the funding to make sure we can get the job done." 

When asked about what the single most critical issue facing Conservation Districts today, Conservation District Employees of Michigan President, Melissa Eldridge expressed, "High staff turnover, without a doubt, is the biggest issue. Districts consistently lose their staff members to MDARD, USDA, DNR, EGLE, or non-profit entities who have more robust funding structures that can provide higher wages, retirement health insurance benefits. If districts had more funding, we could do a better job of making our compensation packages more competitive."

Following the Lunch and Learn event, MACD members finished their remaining legislative meetings, toured the Capitol, and many traveled back across the state to their respective communities.

MACD thanks its members who participated in our 2022 Capitol Day, and we hope to see more District Directors and Staff next year!

Upcoming Webinar Opportunity: Maximizing Your Social Media

Upcoming MACD Webinar Opportunity: Maximizing Your Social Media



With the annual Tree Sale coming up throughout the state, to help districts maximize their sales and advertising, MACD will be hosting a Webinar on February 3rd, 2022 at 11am EST. MACD will share the tools of the trade to maximize the return on your social media content. Topics will include professional photography tips to get the best shots, editing photos with free tools, crafting your message, and measuring the impact your content has on your audience. Register before January 31st. Registration is $30 to cover speaker expenses.

MACD Members can register
here.

MACD Held Annual Assembly on December 13th, 2021

MACD Held Annual Assembly Virtually December 13th, 2021

On Monday, December 13th, the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts held our 2021 Annual Assembly virtually via Zoom. 31 districts from around the state were represented and presented. The meeting began with a special presentation from Michigan State Senator Roger Victory from Michigan's 30th Senate District  and State Representative Rachel Hood from Michigan's 76th House District. Both had several encouraging words recognizing our success in securing $3 million in appropriations for Michigan's Conservation Districts through the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's CD Operations Grant.

Two resolutions were considered and passed. Resolution 2021-1 was a bylaws amendment to allow the MACD Executive Committee flexibility as to what types of investments could be made regarding the MACD endowment fund. Resolution 2021-2 was a resolution that called on the Michigan Legislature to amend the Open Meetings Act to allow Conservation Districts to hold their Board of Directors meetings virtually.

In addition, MACD Executive Officer elections were held, Gerald Miller (Kent Conservation District) was re-elected as President, Elaine Brown (Clinton Conservation District) was re-elected as Vice President, and Nancy Szikzsay (Genesee Conservation District) was re-elected as Secretary-Treasurer.

The assembly was recorded and can be viewed below.

Conservation Technicians Win Awards at 2021 MACD Virtual Fall Convention

Conservation Technicians Win Awards at 2021 MACD Virtual Fall Convention

For immediate release: November 2021
Media contact: Dan Moilanen

Conservation technicians win awards at 2021 MACD Virtual Fall Convention

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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:

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.

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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Save the Date - 2021 MACD Virtual Summer Conference

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

 

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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Gladwin Conservation District Receives NACD Technical Assistance Grant

MACD congratulates the Gladwin Conservation District for receiving a technical assistance grant from the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD).

This grant provides the Gladwin Conservation District (GCD) with resources to spread awareness about the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the GCD's federal partner.  The GCD will be providing programming information and technical assistance to landowners to assist them in addressing natural resource concerns to achieve their personal conservation goals. 

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The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts Applauds Gov. Whitmer for Establishing July 17 as Michigan Conservation District Day

Executive Proclamation Celebrates 83rd Anniversary of Key Conservation Law,
Local Protection of Michigan’s Natural Resources

The Michigan Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) applauds Governor Gretchen Whitmer for establishing July 17, 2020 as Conservation District Day!

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Van Buren CD Wins $400K+ Grant to Reduce Watershed Pollution

Van Buren CD Wins $400K+ Grant to Reduce Watershed Pollution

Colleen Forestieri of Van Buren CD oversees installation of a water control structure that helps reduce runoff from farm fields and hold water in the field during drought periods.MACD congratulates the Van Buren Conservation District for their recent award of a 2-year Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant of $413,362!

The grant will fund efforts to reduce nutrient and pathogen runoff in the Pine and Mill creeks, which are both tributaries of the Paw Paw River listed as impaired by the State of Michigan.

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