Agriculture Chairwoman Stabenow Announces Great Lakes Conservation Effort for Saginaw Bay, Western Lake Erie Basin
Sign-Up Period for Eligible Landowners and Producers Kicks Off Today
Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture will strengthen its commitment to protecting and conserving the Great Lakes water and wildlife resources. The effort, being administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service through existing Farm Bill conservation programs, is part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and will dedicate technical and financial assistance to landowners and producers to implement a range of conservation practices that benefit the Great Lakes water and wildlife. The sign-up period kicks off today and is available to producers and landowners in Saginaw Bay and the Western Lake Erie Basin.
"The Great Lakes are one of our most treasured natural resources in the country, and making sure they remain pristine and healthy is one of my top priorities," Chairwoman Stabenow said. "This effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will partner with our farmers to implement a number of important conservation practices to help protect the Great Lakes water and wildlife, and represents a major step forward in ensuring that we maintain the integrity of our outdoors and wildlife communities. The Great Lakes are an important source of economic activity for Michigan and an integral part of our way of life."
"Senator Stabenow's support for the Great Lakes, and specifically Saginaw Bay, has been tremendous and this additional push to continue protecting the natural resources associated with the Great Lakes will help to preserve them for generations to come," said Bay County Executive Tom Hickner. "The Great Lakes are critical to Michigan's economy and are such an important part of our identity. Thanks to Senator Stabenow, this additional commitment will continue strengthening the Great Lakes waters and wildlife, implementing a number of conservation practices that will ultimately benefit Michiganders who rely on the Great Lakes for more than just recreation - but also for their well being."
The GLRI funding will be available to Michigan landowners and agricultural producers through existing conservation programs through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). A sign-up for GLRI conservation financial assistance will be held between June 1 and July 1, 2011. Agricultural producers, private landowners and Indian tribes are eligible to apply. Landowners receive technical and financial assistance to implement conservation activities on their land that conserve soil, water, air and wildlife resources.
The areas in Michigan eligible for these funds include several priority watersheds within the Saginaw Bay basin and a portion of the Western Lake Erie Basin in southeast Michigan. Financial assistance in the priority areas will come from specified NRCS conservation programs for designated conservation activities.
GLRI assistance in the Saginaw Bay and Western Lake Erie Basin watersheds will be targeted to address non-point source pollution and grassland bird habitat. A four-county area in the Saginaw Bay will also have funding available to address a terrestrial invasive species (feral swine). Maps of the areas eligible for GLRI funding and eligible practices will be posted on the NRCS-Michigan Web site at www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/glri.html. Information is also available at local NRCS and conservation district offices.
More information about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative can be accessed on their website at www.greatlakesrestoration.us.