The Gratiot Conservation District is accepting applications for a Watershed Program Coordinator position to work on a sedimentation prevention project in the Upper Bad River Watershed within Gratiot County.
The Gratiot County Community Foundation and St. Louis Public Schools announced a new scholarship to benefit local students. The Willard Brainard Memorial Scholarship will support students from St. Louis High School in pursuit of post-secondary education and training.
After Willard’s untimely death at the age of 28, his mother Inez worked with the school and Chemical Bank to set aside funds to help St. Louis students with educational expenses. Now with more than $14,000 in the account, a scholarship fund at the Foundation is a natural solution to honor Willard’s memory and help youth from St. Louis further their education.
The $1000 Willard Brainard Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to a St. Louis High School graduate or graduating senior demonstrating financial need and high moral character and citizenship. To apply, visit gratiotfoundation.org. Applications are due on or before March 8.
For more info, contact Tina Travis at (989)875-4222 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Courtesy of The Morning Sun.
Delbert Crumbaugh of Ashley in Gratiot County was awarded Master Farmer of the Year for 2016 by Michigan Farmer Magazine. According to the magazine’s website, The Master Farmer of the Year Award recognizes the finest farmers in Michigan.
Delbert has been farming since he was just a little boy when his parents raised dairy cows, pigs and chickens, then later feeder cattle. In an interview with Brownfield Ag News, he mentions remembering his mom sending him out to work with his father and helping on the farm from a very young age.
Over the years, Delbert built his farming business by continually purchasing available land surrounding his own farming operations. In the interview, he said that as farms near him or within a short distance came up for sale, he would buy them if he was able.
Delbert describes how farming, like any other business, involves commitment and learning to do it correctly. He says that using modern technology, such as no-till farming, can lighten your load and better your chances of success. He says if you can’t make it work for you, than don’t work with it.
According to Delbert’s son Mark, a long time Director on Gratiot Conservation District’s Board of Directors, the Crumbaughs were one of the first families in Gratiot County to embrace no-till farming technology. He recognized that with his clay-based soils, it’s important not to get on the field until it’s dry enough.
In his 85 years, Delbert says that he’s survived enough bad years (as a farmer) to enjoy the good years, and he’s thankful for that.
The Master Farmer of the Year Award is awarded by Michigan Farmer Magazine, Michigan Farm Radio Network, and Michigan Agribusiness Association. It is sponsored by Greenstone Farm Credit Services and Mosiac.
The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) is an innovative, proactive, and voluntary program that helps farms of all sizes and all commodities prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks. MAEAP has continued to move forward this year and has seen great support from the agricultural community here in Gratiot County. While the final step in the MAEAP process is verification, many producers begin mitigating high risk practices long before that takes place. The Conservation District reached out to many producers in FY’15, providing a vast number of services and bringing the total number of MAEAP Verifications in the county to 67 throughout the life of the program.
Fiscal Year 2015 accomplishments include:
Gratiot County MAEAP Verified Farms in Good Standing
To develop and implement a proactive environmental assurance program ensuring that Michigan farmers are engaging in cost-effective pollution prevention practices and working to comply with state and federal environmental regulations.
MAEAP was first developed in 1997 by a coalition of farmers, commodity groups, state and federal agencies, and conservation and environmental groups to provide a venue for farmers to become better educated about management options in order to protect and enhance the quality of natural resources. Partners from these groups are still involved with MAEAP’s work serving on committees and spreading the word to farmers. On March 8, 2011, Governor Rick Snyder signed the first legislation of his new administration, establishing MAEAP into law.
With confidentiality guaranteed by law, MAEAP provides a structure under which Michigan farmers can be assured they are effectively following approved MAEAP standards. These standards include inspected practices that are consistent with the identified Right to Farm Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs). Through MAEAP, farmers show that they are working to comply with state and federal environmental laws specific to each system of the program.
This comprehensive, voluntary, proactive program is designed to reduce farmers’ legal and environmental risks through a three-phase process: 1) education; 2) farm-specific risk assessment and practice implementation; and 3) on-farm verification that ensure the farmer has implemented environmentally sound practices. The program’s four systems — Farmstead, Cropping, Livestock and the newly developed Forest, Wetlands and Habitats System — each examine different aspects of the farm. After becoming MAEAP verified, a farm can display a MAEAP sign signifying that MAEAP partners recognize the farm is environmentally assured.
The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, or MAEAP, is an innovative proactive program that helps farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent or minimize agriculture pollution risks. It teaches farmers how to identify and prevent environmental risks and to comply with state and federal environmental regulations.
To become MAEAP verified farmers must complete three comprehensive steps which include attending an educational seminar, conducting an on-farm risk assessment, and passing a third party on-farm verification.
Farms can be verified in four systems: livestock, farmstead, cropping and the new system for forests, wetlands and habitats. Currently there are over 3,000 verifications with 67 right here in Gratiot County.
For more information about MAEAP, or how to get involved, you can check out the MAEAP website at www.maeap.com or contact Lindsey Martin at the Gratiot Conservation District at (989) 875-3900 Ext. 3
Gratiot Conservation District has teamed up with the Mid-Michigan District Health Department, the City of Alma, and Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network (WIN) to update health department records of septic systems and begin the process of fixing failing systems.
The first step of this long-term project involves creating informational and educational materials that will be distributed to landowners in the Upper Pine River Watershed (mostly upstream of the City of Alma).
The next phase involves working with the health department to update records of septic systems using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology and digitizing hard-copies of existing data. This will be used, along with other scientific data, to create a proposal that will be presented to potential partners, grantors & funders to gather support for Phase II of the project.
Phase II of this long-term project will involve a revolving loan system of replacing failing septic systems similar to the sustainable model developed in Bay County, a canine source tracking study similar to what has been used in Clinton & Shiawassee Counties as well as on the Chippewa Indian Reservation, and continued education & outreach.
This project has been made possible by a grant through the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network (WIN). WIN is a volunteer organization that includes more than 90 citizens and organizations and focusses on opportunities to better link the economic, social, and environmental wellbeing of Saginaw Bay communities in order to sustain and improve the region’s quality of life.
Twelve area foundations and corporations work together as a Network to financially support WIN projects. This Funders Network includes: Bay Area Community Foundation, Consumers Energy Foundation, Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation, Midland Area Community Foundation, Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, Saginaw Community Foundation, The Dow Chemical Company Foundation, The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, The S.C. Johnson Fund, the Cook Family Foundation, the C.S. Mott Foundation, and the Saginaw Bay Foundation.
More information about WIN is available on its website at www.saginawbaywin.org
For more information, stop into the office in the USDA Service Center at 301 E. Commerce Drive in Ithaca. You can also call the office at 989-875-3900 Ext 115 or email us at GratiotConservationDistrict@gmail.com
Your septic system is your responsibility!
As a homeowner, you are responsible for maintaining your septic system. If your septic system is not working correctly, it could be polluting the water. Be proactive! New technologies can trace pollution right to your door. Check your septic system now to avoid legal trouble later!
What Is a Septic System?
Most septic systems have four main parts: a pipe from the home, a septic tank, a drainfield, and the soil.
Why Should I Maintain My Septic System?
Four Things You Can Do to Protect Your Septic System
Tip: to keep your septic tank working, have your tank pumped every 3-5 years to remove buildup, sludge, and floating scum. Regular inspections and pumping are the least expensive ways to keep your septic system working.
Finding Your System: older septic systems are sometimes hard to find because you can’t see them from the ground. An inspector or pumper can help you locate yours. If yours is newer, there should be a drawing on file at your local land records office.
Care for Your Drainfield
Signs of Septic Failure
Causes of Septic Failure
Alternative Systems: You might need an alternative septic system if the soils aren’t suitable for a typical system, if houses are too close together or too close to groundwater or surface water.
The Healthy Pine River group (HPR) was formally organized in September. The group is committed to bringing together community members interested in improving the health of the river.
“We don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We want to support the efforts of the Gratiot County Conservation District and of the various city governments and area agencies that are working to improve river quality,” said Chair Gary Rayburn.
To that end HPR advocated for a study of water quality conducted by the City of Alma and by Alma College this past summer, then arranged a public meeting to discuss the results. The reports showed unsafe levels of e-coli bacteria in the Mill Pond, high enough for the Mid Michigan District Health Department to post warning signs at the boat launch in Conservation Park and the canoe launch at Luneack Landing. There are also issues with high ammonia and nitrate levels, large algae blooms and excess vegetation and sedimentation.
The group is putting together a community workshop to inform people about the challenges the river faces, to offer some possibilities for short and long-term action, and to find out what residents see as the most important issues to address first.
“Currently we’re a board of seven people who care, but we can’t decide what priorities to advocate for and support in isolation. No one “owns” the river, but we all have a stake in it and we need input from everyone,” Rayburn said. The workshop is tentatively scheduled for late spring, and the event will be widely publicized to encourage maximum attendance.
Meanwhile people are encouraged to visit the HPR website www.healthypineriver.org, where they can join the group for a $5 annual fee and sign up for the email list to receive updates, including minutes of all the meetings. The group meets the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m., usually at the Alma Public Library. All are welcome to attend. Anyone with questions can contact Gary Rayburn, 989-330-3686.
ALMA — Local author Jane Keon, recognized for her leadership and advocacy for the Pine River Superfund clean-up efforts, will discuss the work and history of the St. Louis Community Advisory Group (CAG) in a talk at Alma College.
She will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19 in the Swanson Academic Center, Room 113. Admission is free and open to the public. Keon also will be available to sign copies of her book, “Tombstone Town: Left for Dead, Marked with a Tombstone, A Toxic Town Fights Back.”
Keon chaired for 12 years the Environmental Protection Agency-sanctioned St. Louis CAG, a group of volunteer citizens who spearheaded the cleanup of sites contaminated with chemicals and radioactive waste by a now-defunct DDT manufacturing facility.
“Jane Keon has devoted a lot of time and energy in leading her community’s environmental clean-up efforts,” says Alma College President Jeff Abernathy. “Her book describes the persistence of community volunteers in dealing with local, state and federal agencies. She models for our students how to use what they learn in the classroom to better their communities.”
Her book serves as a memoir of the first 16 years of the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force, which worked closely with the City of St. Louis, Alma College faculty and students, and other agencies. The EPA continues to work with the town of St. Louis to end the deaths of robins from DDT poisoning and to clean up a failed Superfund site that is leaking into the Pine River.
Keon was honored by Alma College in 2011 with the Community Service Award and by the City of St. Louis with the Spirit of St. Louis Award, and in 2014 by the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy for her efforts in protecting and preserving the Pine River. In 2008, Alma College and the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force were the recipients of the Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Partnership Award for Campus-Community Collaboration, given annually for collaborators who work in exceptional ways to improve lives and enhance learning.
A memoir of the first 16 years of the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force, a Community Advisory Group (CAG) in St. Louis, Michigan. Jane Keon chaired the group for 12 years as they volunteered as citizen overseers of sites contaminated with chemicals and radioactive waste. EPA is working with the town to end the deaths of robins from DDT poisoning, and to clean up a failed Superfund site that is leaking into the Pine River.
Now available on Amazon.com
Kindle edition: $4.99 Paperback edition: $12.99 http://www.amazon.com/Tombstone-Town-Jane-Keon-ebook/dp/B018MVZG16/