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Funding Benefits Local Rivers

April 21, 2009
By Marci Singer, Petoskey News-Review


The Conservation Resource Alliance was recently notified that a second phase of Conservation Innovation Grant funding has been awarded to extend habitat improvement work in Northwest Michigan.

Since 2006, conservation partners have been working on the first phase, a three year, $500,000 grant project that concentrates habitat improvement in the critical river and wildlife habitat corridors of Northwest Michigan, most notably the Jordan River, the Boyne River and the Maple River, among others.

“The project was designed to demonstrate how conservation benefits can be targeted for maximum impact, focusing on waterways and habitat connections that are important to tribes and many other conservation programs in our region,” said director, Amy Beyer.

“This project is about habitat really,” she added. “Even though it’s a grant program dreamed up for agricultural innovations, in Northern Michigan, subsistence for tribes historically was based on fish and wildlife resources. We’ve recognized that relationship in working with the Department of Agriculture and are targeting areas that are meaningful and beneficial to the tribes and our other partners.”

Wildlife habitat plans and projects have been carried out on private and tribal lands, in some cases stimulating permanent land protection projects. Culturally significant plants and habitats have been integrated into the Wild Link approach, dams have been removed, stream crossings and public access sites have been improved and fisheries habitat have been restored.

“The second grant, also for $500,000 and another three years, will let us expand and extend the habitat improvement work,” Beyer said. “The Phase 2 grant gives us a great opportunity to continue our locally-driven efforts so that the funding can do the most possible good.”

Together, the two grants total $1 million and will leverage more than $1.1 million in state, local and private support.

“We need to recognize that funding for this initiative was competitive. The decision to make this award made by the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service to invest in our Wild Link/River Care model is an important clue that high-quality natural resources are a priority in the Great Lakes and in the United States. That is good news for great rivers, not to mention our tribes and all of Northern Michigan,” Beyer said.


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