Around 70 people came to the Rockford Sportsman’s Club on Monday, March 28 to hear about the programs available to assist property owners with wetland restoration on their land. The Rogue River Watershed Council and Trout Unlimited Inc., in partnership with Timberland Resource Conservation & Development, the Kent Conservation District, the Izaak Walton League, and the Department of Environmental Quality hosted this free informational workshop. Speakers included: Rob Zbiciak, Wetland Restoration and Watersheds Coordinator for the Department of Environmental Quality; Becky Otto, Wetland Reserve Program Coordinator for the Natural Resources Conservation Service; and Gib King, a fish and wildlife biologist for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Zbiciak started the workshop by talking about the importance of wetlands in our landscape and wetland loss in the state of Michigan. Over half of Michigan’s wetlands have been drained and converted for agricultural use or other types of development. Wetlands serve a very important role in the landscape by improving water quality, flood storage and groundwater recharge. The loss of wetlands has increased the frequency and severity of flood events. An important function of wetlands is that they reduce sediment and nutrients in surface water before it enters our streams, lakes and rivers. Restoring wetlands is one of the best conservation practices available for improving water quality and quantity. Otto and King spoke for the second half of the meeting about the two programs available for wetland restoration. The first was the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), which restores and protects wetlands converted to agricultural use. By enrolling in WRP, landowners with land that was formerly wetlands can convert these lands back to their original state. WRP provides financial assistance to restore and protect wetlands, and to enhance degraded wetlands. For Kent County, landowners can receive up to $3,689 per acre in this program. The landowner can enter into either a 30-year easement or permanent easement that will insure the land is maintained as wetland habitat. In order to enroll land in WRP, the land must be owned privately or by a tribe and cannot have changed ownership within the previous seven years unless adequate assurances can be provided by the landowner. The second program discussed […]
Kent Conservation District
Howard Christensen Nature Center takes steps to reopen by TOM NOREEN A group of about 30 people gathered at the Tyrone Township Hall on March 3 to learn about the progress made in reopening the Howard Christensen Nature Center (HCNC), 16160 Red Pine Dr, Kent City, as its own nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. The center closed in January due to a funding shortage. Cindy Perski, with the assistance of Kathy Reed (former director under the Kent Conservation District), has taken the lead at creating the umbrella organization that would oversee the center. Perski recently retired as CEO of a manufacturing company in Southwest Michigan. After retirement, she sought out Reed to volunteer at HCNC, only to find out that the center was going to close. Perski’s goal is “to give a legacy to our communities, children, to volunteer with a purpose, to give unselfishly, to expect nothing back in return, to leave this life better than I found it. It is an act of responsibility to leave a positive legacy.” She decided to put her words into action and see what she could do to bring the nature center back to life. During the meeting, former director Ranger Steve Mueller gave a brief history of the center and its primary goal of education. The Kent Intermediate School District (KISD) ran the facility from 1976 until it closed in 2005 because of budgetary constraints. The KISD owns the 142-acre facility and would be willing to negotiate a lease with a qualified nonprofit as they did with the Kent Conservation District (KCD). KCD Chair Connie Redding explained that the KCD used the facility to not only provide educational opportunities to school children but as a demonstration site for the services that KCD provides to land owners in the county. She briefed that funding was the primary reason for not renewing their lease. During the four years that the KCD ran HCNC, the center ran a loss of about $30,000. “We will be willing to help and are very supportive of this plan,” said Redding. One attendee asked about the 10-year Forestry Plan and Redding said the plan was still intact and all it needed was an individual or organization to execute it. One of the primary agenda items […]
Did you know that restoring wetlands on your property can put “cash” in your pocket? Do you own property that was historically wet but the natural drainage has been altered by the installation of ditches or agricultural drain tiles? Do you own marginal agricultural land that is often difficult to plant in the spring or harvest in the fall because of wetness? Are you interested in receiving technical assistance and cost-share money to improve wildlife habitat on your property by restoring wetlands? You could be eligible to receive between $2,000 and $5,000 per acre for land that is restored to a wetland and protected with a conservation easement! The Rogue River Watershed Council and Trout Unlimited Inc., in partnership with Timberland RC&D, the Kent Conservation District, the Izaak Walton League, and the Department of Environmental Quality, will be hosting a free wetland workshop for landowners at the Rockford Sportsman’s Club, 1115 Northland Drive, on Monday, March 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The workshop will highlight programs that assist private landowners to restore historic wetlands on their properties. Landowners that meet federal requirements may be eligible for wetland restoration payments that pay between $2,000 and $5,000 per acre in Kent, Newaygo and Ottawa counties. Hear from leading wetland experts including representatives from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. If you have an interest in restoring wetland habitat on your property, this is the free workshop for you. Please RSVP by March 21 to Nichol De Mol at email@example.com or (231) 557-6362.
The Order Deadline for the spring native plant sale will be May 20, 2009. The sale will be held at the Kent CD office (Grand Rapids) at 3260 Eagle Park Dr. N.E., Suite 111, Grand Rapids on May 27 at 6 p.m. For additional information call (616) 942-4111 extension 100. There will be a cash and carry sale for customers who need help with their selection, but please remember stock is not guaranteed at the cash and carry sale so please put an order in for all items you know you want. For more information on this sale go to the tree sale section of our website where you can download our catalog for free. The Kent Conservation District hosts two native plant sales each year. One in the Spring and one in the Fall. Because the native plants of Michigan have evolved with our unique climate and soils, they are often times better adapted to our local conditions than their non-native or cultivated counterparts. Native plants also play an important role in the life cycle of many different species of wildlife including many butterflies, song birds and mammals. Please consider using Michigan Natives for your next planting.
Extras available at 25 percent discount Due to an ordering error the Kent Conservation District has extra seedlings remaining from its sale. Because these seedlings must be planted or tended to within the next week, we are offering a 25 percent discount on all purchases made this week. If you are interested in making a purchase come to the Howard Christensen Nature Center on Red Pine Drive in Kent City on Wed. from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or Thurs. 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Seedlings will also be available in Cedar Springs Morley Park on Sat. from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. At this point we have most of our fifty species available.