GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Kent Conservation District (KCD) has partnered with other local conservation organizations to provide financial and technical support to farmers and landowners within two vital Kent County watersheds.
The Indian Mill Creek and Rogue River watersheds are two priority areas within the Grand River. Both are tributary headwaters, both contain cold-water trout streams, and both are contaminated due to sedimentation and pollution caused by degraded streambanks, reduced vegetation, erosion, and a dense drainage network. To address the environmental concerns within the two watersheds, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) – titled “Lower Grand River Watershed Habitat Restoration and Farmland Conservation”, will provide landowners with conservation technical assistance and financial opportunities to implement conservation practices on their property.
RCPP is led by the Grand Valley Metro Council, with 22 partners including the Kent Conservation District (KCD), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Trout Unlimited (TU). The available RCPP conservation practices include crop nutrient management, filter strips, cover crops, grassed waterways, wetland restoration, invasive species management and much more. NRCS has enrolled nearly 1,000 acres into conservation programs within the Indian Mill Creek and Rogue River watersheds in the past 3 years. KCD also promotes the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). MAEAP technicians verify landowners that follow Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPS), and which demonstrate that their farms are managed in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.
Agricultural technician and farmer Lance Robinson has taken advantage of available NRCS funding and technical assistance on his property in Sparta, and he’s pleased with the results. “I was skeptical of working with the Kent Conservation District at first,” he says, “but the practices I’ve learned are helping me improve my farm, and the cost-share option keeps more money in my pocket. Plus, the District staff helped me get through the paperwork pretty quickly. We’ve become friends.”
For the next four years through 2022, the Conservation Partnership has $2.8 million in federal funding available to support agricultural producer and landowner soil preservation efforts within the two watersheds. “Once the money’s gone, it’s gone,” Robinson explains, “so this is a really good time to tap into the dollars and expertise the program has to offer.” Private landowners with agricultural or forest land located in the Indian Mills Creek or Rogue River watershed are eligible for the project.
Lance Robinson’s farm will be included in an upcoming bus tour of Kent County properties currently participating in various USDA Programs. Scheduled for Friday, August 24 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., guests will see what local farmers are doing to protect and improve their soil. The outing includes lunch and a smoking tile demonstration by renowned soil scientist Frank Gibbs. The demonstration is designed to show the value of conservation practices such as cover crops, earthworms and long-term, no-till farming practices
The tour and lunch are offered at no cost to Kent County farmers and private landowners in Kent and surrounding counties who want to learn more about MAEAP (Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program) and conservation practices. More information on the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and a tour sign-up form are available at www.kentconservation.org, or by calling (616) 222-5846. Reservations are limited. The tour is made possible through the generosity of MAEAP and the Michigan Farm Bureau.
Click the link for a flyer: Farm Bureau, MAEAP Ag Producer Conservation Tour Friday, August 24th 8-1pm. Free Lunch Included! (6)
— Kent Conservation District
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