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Land Conservancy Awarded NAWCA Grant

September 15, 2009 | SWMLC | Portage, MI

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2009

For information, contact:
Peter Ter Louw,
Executive Director
(269) 324-1600
E-mail: ConserveLand@SWMLC.org

 

Land Conservancy Awarded NAWCA Grant Funding for work in Barry, Cass, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph

Portage, MI — The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC) has been awarded $500,000 for wetland conservation and restoration in southwest Michigan. As a partner in a project led by Ducks Unlimited, SWMLC was chosen to be a recipient of funding to conserve wetland habitat in the southeast Lake Michigan watershed by a grant through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. SWMLC and project partners will acquire, restore or enhance approximately 2,000 acres of forested, scrub-shrub and emergent (wet meadows and marshes) wetlands as well as uplands adjacent to wetlands throughout southwest Michigan.

"NAWCA grants are a crucial funding source for conservation partnerships such as this one," said Michael Sertle, regional biologist for Ducks Unlimited. "As a result of this funding opportunity, we will be able to cooperatively conserve critical wetland habitat for the benefit of waterfowl and other migratory birds."

The partners’ efforts in the project area will protect and restore wetland habitat in a region where thousands of acres of wetlands historically existed. Many of these historical wetlands were drained by drainage ditches, field tiles, or modifications to surface drainage for agricultural purposes. The objective of this NAWCA grant is to conserve approximately 1,350 acres of wetlands and 650 acres of adjacent upland nesting habitat.

"With this funding, SWMLC will be able to purchase and protect high-quality wetland habitat that we have had our eye on for several years," said Emily Wilke, SWMLC director of land protection. "We will focus our work in Barry, Cass, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties, which will include two purchase projects and the restoration of a property that we currently own in Kalamazoo County."

Ducks Unlimited partnered with the following organizations to receive matching and non-matching funds to leverage the NAWCA funds: SWMLC, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, R.T. Groos LLC, The Nature Conservancy, Michigan Nature Association, Fort Custer Training Center, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Boy Scouts of America and Potawatomi Resource Conservation & Development.

Approximately $2 million in matching and non-matching partner funds and $989,000 in NAWCA grant funds will protect, restore and enhance emergent and forested wetland habitat critical to waterfowl in southwest Michigan. Approximately $1 million — or half of the matching dollars — is being provided by conservation-minded landowners who have donated their land or development rights to SWMLC. With their donations, SWMLC was able to leverage $500,000 to purchase and restore wetlands. Conservation projects are expected to take place over a period of four years beginning in the summer of 2010.

"I am very pleased to see this grant awarded to a project that is very important to preserving and restoring these wetlands in southwest Michigan, and look forward to the work Ducks Unlimited will do in implementing it," said U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. "This is one of the nation’s most effective conservation programs, and I am pleased this project will also focus on conserving associated upland habitat along Lake Michigan’s coast."

To learn more about the NAWCA grant or about SWMLC, call the office at (269) 324-1600 if you have questions, or visit their web site at www.SWMLC.org. For more information on Ducks Unlimited, visit www.ducks.org.

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Background Information:

The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy serves the nine counties of southwest Michigan, and has protected over 7,500 acres since its inception as an all-volunteer organization in 1991. The Conservancy currently has five full-time and two part-time staff and 170 active volunteers and is supported by 1,100 household memberships.

SWMLC is partnering with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on the Barry State Game Area conservation project and with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on watershed management planning projects for the Rocky River, Paw Paw River, Black River, Dowagiac Creek, Dowagiac River, Prairieville Creek, and Augusta Creek. SWMLC is working on waterfowl conservation, endangered species acquisition and stewardship projects in collaboration with other land conservancies and nonprofit conservation partners through funding from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. SWMLC is also working on watershed planning and management with the Two Rivers Coalition (Van Buren Conservation District) and Friends of the St. Joseph River. In addition, SWMLC works with county and municipal governments to protect natural areas and open space along Lake Michigan as well as land that provides significant public benefit.

To learn more about the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, call (269) 324-1600 or visit their web site at www.SWMLC.org.

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