Sep 23, 2020Land, water conservation in northern Michigan aided by $5.7M investment
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, on Sept. 23 announced $5,700,000 in federal funding, matched by private investment, that will help reconnect broken streams and revitalize rivers to improve fish habitats and protect forest and farm land in Northern Michigan.
According to a news release, this funding come from the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which was authored by Stabenow in the Farm Bill.
The project – the Tribal Stream and Michigan Fruitbelt Collaborative – is led by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, Leelanau Conservancy, Conservation Resource Alliance, and Grand Traverse Conservation District. The partnership leverages public and private funding to support the long-term restoration and protection of a Tribal fishery as well as address water quality concerns along Lake Michigan. Additionally, the partnership works with local farmers and producers to protect important farm land in the region and enhance wildlife habitats throughout northwest Michigan.
“This successful alliance between northern Michigan farmers and local partners is a blueprint for how we can protect our farms, water and unique natural resources,” Stabenow said. “This new investment will continue this ground breaking work for years to come and benefit generations.”
“The brilliance of Sen. Debbie’s Stabenow’s bi-partisan concept to foster public-private collaboration toward the dual goal of protecting Northern Michigan’s clean water and its agricultural and tourism economy is truly a gift that keeps on giving,” said Tom Nelson, Executive Director of the Leelanau Conservancy. “We are profoundly grateful to Sen. Stabenow and our Regional Conservation Partnership Program partners, led by the Tribal Nation of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, to be doing this cutting-edge, on-the-ground work that restores and preserves the lifeblood of our region–our waters and family farming–for generations to come.”
Starting with a $7,900,000 investment in 2016, the initiative has since completed 42 stream restoration projects throughout Northern Michigan and targeted 2,500 acres of forest and farmland for permanent protection in the greater Grand Traverse region.
Stabenow created the Regional Conservation Partnership Program in the bipartisan 2014 Farm Bill to form locally led partnerships between agriculture and conservation groups to preserve land and water, improve hunting and fishing, and protect the Great Lakes. These local projects leverage private and public dollars to bring together partners to address regional conservation issues. In Michigan alone, 11 projects have received over $130 million total in federal funding and partner contributions.
In the 2018 Farm Bill, Stabenow strengthened regional conservation partnerships to provide more resources for partners to expand the reach of conservation projects, while cutting red-tape and increasing flexibility for new participants.