Blue Water Conservation District (BWCD) is improving wildlife habitat through a $50,700 grant the district received from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The Michigan DNR Wildlife Habitat Grant must be used by Sept. 30, 2020, on projects including enhancing large wetland complexes, winter deer complexes, mast producing food sources, forest openings, oak savannas and small-game habitat.

BWCD, which serves St. Clair and Sanilac counties, will use the funds to convert 86 acres of row crops into native grasses, wet grass mix and wildflower mix in Sanilac County.

BWCD Farm Bill wildlife biologist Jacob Northuis said an additional 51 acres of fallow land – currently containing thistle, timothy and orchard grass – will be converted into annual food plots for wildlife, including turkey, pheasants and whitetail deer, with the future goal of transitioning those acres to grassland and woodland.

“The native grasses grow relatively quick as opposed to planting trees, which take 20 to 30 years before they are effective habitat,” Northuis said. “Part of the grant is converting those fallow areas into wildlife food plots, such as beans and wheat to help weed control so in the future when we decide to do tree planting it gives us a clean slate.”

Once the current project is implemented, Northuis plans to seek funding for forest management planning. Read more>>>


This fall, NACD is connecting state conservation district association leaders with state forestry agencies across the country in an effort to get districts more involved in planning State Forest Action Plans.

NACD and the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) have worked together in recent years to explore ways to connect state leaders. The effort is the result of 2015-16 survey data, which showed only 30 percent of conservation districts and 58 percent of state association executive directors were aware of their state’s plan.

“Those numbers weren’t good enough,” Steve Hedstrom, NACD Forestry Resource Policy Group (RPG) Chairman, said. “We decided to make a commitment to change those figures because we want districts at the table, and we think we can help state foresters carry out these plans, too.”

With the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress tasked states and territories with assessing all the forests within their boundaries and developing strategies to improve the health, resiliency and productivity of those forests. The first plans were released in 2010, and a five-year review was conducted in 2015. In June 2020, each state will release an updated 10-year plan.

Many states are beginning to gather partner input for the 2020 plans already. When plans are completed, conservation districts and other partners may be asked to help communicate plan objectives to local and state policymakers as well as the general public.

Hedstrom said the NACD Forestry RPG will continue to discuss ways to support State Forest Action Plans and strengthen conservation district and state forestry agency relations.

State Forest Action Plans can be viewed on the Joint Forestry Team website under the “state partnerships” tab. Visitors can click on their home state for a directory of state forestry leaders and links to the State Forest Action Plan, State Wildlife Action Plan, and the state forestry memorandum of understanding, if one exists. NACD is a member of the national Joint Forestry Team, along with NASF, the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).


In October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue swore in Vicki Christiansen as Chief of the Forest Service. Prior to joining the Forest Service, where she has been serving as Interim Chief since March, Christiansen was the state forester in Arizona and Washington.

“Chief Christiansen has the necessary tools in her toolkit to hit the ground running in this new role,” NACD President Brent Van Dyke said. “During her time at the Forest Service, Christiansen has worked closely with conservation districts to improve the health of our nation’s forests. Due to her education and professional experience, she understands how failing to properly manage our nation’s forests leads to longer and more severe fire seasons. NACD commends Secretary Perdue’s appointment, and we look forward to expanding this productive relationship to continue making improvements to our nation’s public and private forest lands.”

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