Apr 12, 2022

Michigan Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Brought Back

The goal is to reduce nutrient runoff from farm fields into Michigan’s waterways

drinking water

Federal and Michigan agricultural officials are bringing back a conservation program in several key Michigan watersheds.

According to Michigan News, the voluntary conservation program will be relaunched in the Western Lake Erie Basin, Lake Macatawa, and Saginaw Bay watersheds. This is through a partnership among state and federal agriculture agencies and regional conservation districts, pulling $40 million in federal funds toward protecting land and water resources.

The program, named the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, is one where landowners agree to use at least one of six conservation measures for up to 15 years. According to the program, options include: filter strips, riparian buffers, sediment control structures, field windbreaks, wetland restoration and grass, forb, and legume buffer zones.

The goal is to reduce nutrient runoff from farm fields into Michigan’s waterways, which can negatively impact water quality, reported Michigan News. The program will try to mitigate algal blooms, warmer water temperatures, contaminated drinking water sources, and more.

According to Gary McDowell, director of the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan will be able to leverage $5 million in state funding for eight times the amount in federal cash.

“This is a huge win for water quality in Michigan and will help the state reach our 40 percent phosphorus reduction entering the Western Lake Erie Basin from farmland,” said McDowell, reported Michigan News.

The federal program will reimburse up to half the installation costs and offer sign-up incentives and a maintenance payment. 

According to Robert Bonnie, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s under-secretary for farm production and conservation, the program previously had a positive impact in Michigan, reported Michigan News.

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