07/16/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/16/2021 14:04
Proclamation celebrates 84th anniversary of key conservation law, local protection of Michigan's natural resources
EAST LANSING, MI - Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed July 17 as Conservation District Day throughout the state of Michigan to honor the hard work and dedication of the conservation districts providing essential information to Michiganders preserving the state's natural resources for generations to come.
'Today, I'm pleased to join Governor Whitmer in recognizing our conservation districts, who are foundational part of implementing some of MDARD's key programs including the Forestry Assistance Program and the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, which help protect forest health and preserve water quality,' said Gary McDowell, MDARD Director. 'I encourage you to take a moment to thank our area Conservation Districts and their staff for the tireless work they do each day to ensure our natural resources and farmland are protected.'
Conservation District Day commemorates the 84th anniversary of Public Act 297 of 1937, Michigan's first Soil Conservation District law, enacted as a locally-based response to the soil erosion catastrophe of the 1930s Dust Bowl, coupled with extreme drought nationwide.
Since 1937, the scope and responsibility of Michigan Conservation Districts has grown far beyond their original focus of agricultural soil erosion to include an array of conservation practices that address sustaining productive and healthy soils, invasive species management, optimizing forestland habitat, safe-guarding water quality and quantity, providing conservation education, recycling support, farmland protection, and more.
'The common mission of Michigan's Conservation Districts is to protect and enhance the soil, water and habitat resources on working lands across the state's 83 counties,' said Gerald Miller, Michigan Association of Conservation Districts President and Board Chair of Kent Conservation District. 'Conservation Districts have worked hand-in-hand with Michigan's farmers and producers for 84 years to accomplish this mission.'
Last year alone, Michigan's Conservation District partnerships with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and MDARD delivered over $38 million in Farm Bill funding directly to Michigan's landowners, to specifically address natural resource concerns on their working lands.
'Michigan's Conservation Districts work with farmers and landowners implementing various conservation practices to increase water infiltration and promote healthy and productive soils,' said Dan Moilanen, Executive Director of MACD. 'More than 72 percent of all land in Michigan is privately owned, and Conservation Districts are an important and effective delivery model for implementing conservation practices on both private and public land, to help protect and enhance Michigan's wealth of natural resources now and into the future.'
In celebration of the day, MDARD and MACD will share soil and water conservation tips on a 'Fresh from the Field' podcast featuring Gerald Miller, President of MACD and Board Chair of Kent Conservation District. Listen to the podcast.
To learn more about Michigan Conservation Districts and their programs and services, visit MACD.org. To learn about the Forestry Assistance Program, visit Michigan.gov/MIFAP or to learn more about the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, visit MAEAP.org.