USDA Funding Targets Great Lakes

Grassed river bank

EAST LANSING, Nov. 18, 2015 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture will make over $2.5 million in conservation financial assistance available to Michigan landowners to help improve water quality and wildlife habitat around the Great Lakes.

The financial assistance is available to farmers and landowners in selected Michigan watersheds through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Farmers and landowners interested in obtaining financial assistance to implement conservation improvements on their land must apply at their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office before Dec. 18, 2015. The financial assistance is available to agricultural producers in the Saginaw Bay area, the Western Lake Erie Basin area in southeast Michigan, and in areas of Northern Michigan near Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

“The Great Lakes Initiative provides financial resources to help protect the valuable natural resources of the Great Lakes. This initiative provides an opportunity for farmers and private forest owners to address resource concerns on their land such as soil erosion, nutrient management and drainage water management,” said NRCS State Conservationist Garry Lee.

A portion of the USDA funding is targeted to reducing the amount of phosphorus that runs off of agricultural land and enters the Great Lakes. Phosphorus runoff from farm land and other sources is responsible for harmful algae blooms that damage aquatic habitat and water quality. Phosphorus runoff from farm land can be greatly reduced by adopting conservation practices like cover crops, conservation tillage and buffer strips. The USDA offers financial assistance for these and other conservation practices.

Financial assistance is also available to improve wildlife habitat and combat invasive species such as phragmites. Phragmites is a reed that grows in wetland areas and crowds out native species and degrades wildlife habitat. Habitat improvement practices include activities such as tree, shrub and grass planting and wetland creation or enhancements.

More information including eligibility area maps, lists of eligible conservation practices, and local office contact information is available on the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service website at


Posted on: December 9th, 2015 By Tony Wernette
Tony Wernette
Tony is the MAEAP Technician with the Mecosta Conservation District. He can be reached at