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$40 million in federal money for water quality and forestland improvements

A cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Erie in 2013.
Mark Brush
Michigan Radio
A cyanobacteria bloom on Lake Erie in 2013.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, announced today that much of this federal money will come to Michigan in the form of conservation projects and water quality improvement projects.

Stabenow's office says the money is the result of last years Farm Bill.

From their press release:

This major investment is a direct result of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, created in Sen. Stabenow's 2014 Farm Bill, to protect our Great Lakes and invest in water, land, and wildlife conservation across the country. Three Michigan projects were awarded that will address water quality concerns in Western Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay, and the St. Joseph River. One project will address wildlife habitat in Michigan's Upper Peninsula forests and another will improve forest health throughout the state.

Working with farmers to reduce harmful cyanobacteria and algae blooms, the type that shut down Toledo's water supply last summer, seems to be a large part of the conservation grants.

Here's a list describing the projects from Stabenow's release:

$17.5 million- Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Phosphorus Reduction Initiative

This partnership will help farmers implement conservation practices to reduce phosphorus and sediment runoff into the western Lake Erie basin and reduce toxic algae blooms. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will lead the initiative in collaboration with Ohio, Indiana and more than 40 local partners. The initiative will focus on the West Lake Erie Watershed from Sandusky at the southern limit to River Raisin in the north.

$10 million- Saginaw Bay Watershed Conservation Partnership

This initiative will help farmers and conservation partners improve the water quality and wildlife habitat in the Saginaw Bay Watershed, which has been negatively impacted by phosphorus and nutrient sediment runoff. The Michigan Agri-Business Association and Nature Conservancy will lead 35 local partners to restore acres of wetlands, reduce excessive sediments and nutrients in the watershed, and monitor long-term trends in the fish population and habitat.

$6.8 million- St. Joseph Watershed Conservation Partnership

Over 70 percent of the St. Joseph River is in agricultural use, stretching 210 miles. This project will offer farmers public and private financial and technical assistance to access conservation tools that reduce excessive sediment and nutrients in the St. Joseph River and improve wildlife and fish habitat. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will partner with the State of Indiana and over 30 local organizations.

$5 million- Improving Forest Health for Wildlife Resources in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin

This project will improve forest health on nearly 12,000 acres of nonindustrial forest land in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin in order to conserve essential habitat for threatened and endangered species. In Michigan, work will focus on counties in the Upper Peninsula including but not limited to Marquette, Baraga, Iron, Dickinson, and Menominee. The project is led by the American Bird Conservancy and the State of Wisconsin in collaboration with Michigan, Minnesota, and 25 local partners.

$1 million- Training Foresters to Enhance the Sustainable Management of Private Forest Land

This project will improve healthier forests within the 12 million acres of private forest land throughout Michigan. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Forestry Division will train private and public sector professional foresters to work with landowners to implement best management practices that combat soil erosion and sediment runoff from timber harvests.

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
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