Federal Dollars Will Fund Michigan Conservation Efforts

Nearly $40 million in federal funds will go to projects across Michigan and the Great Lakes region to improve water quality, protect forest habitat and minimize soil erosion under grants announced this morning by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s office.

The funding — which will be matched with local funds — is part of $370 million for more than 100 grants expected to be announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Funding was included in last year’s Farm Bill, which Stabenow, (D-Mich.), helped pass as chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

The Great Lakes region’s single-largest award — for $17.5 million — will go to a partnership between Michigan, Ohio and Indiana and dozens of local groups and businesses to reduce phosphorus runoff in western Lake Erie.

The project, which also will work to limit sediment runoff from Sandusky, Ohio, to River Raisin, is part of an effort to reduce algal blooms in the watershed. A toxic bloom in Lake Erie last August interrupted water service for more than 400,000 people in southeast Michigan and Toledo area.

The program works with farmers and other businesses to help them reduce runoff which increases the likelihood of toxic blooms.

?The design of it is we’re not handing over checks for the full amount,” said Stabenow. ?We’re funding very specific actions.? She said the overall investment in the region represents one of the largest in Great Lakes conservation efforts ever.?

The other Michigan awards include $10 million to help farmers and others improve water quality and wildlife habitat in the Saginaw Bay watershed; $6.8 million to reduce nutrient and sediment runoff in the St. Joseph River; and $5 million to conserve habitat for threatened and endangered species on nonindustrial forest land on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Another $1 million grant will help to combat soil erosion and sediment loading from poorly executed timber harvests across the state.

Some information in this news update was first reported by the Detroit Free Press.

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