Land Conservancy receives large matching grant to protect Battle Creek watershed

At least 480 acres of property that are of high priority to the protection of the Battle Creek River Watershed can now be conserved as a result of a matching grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy and Kalamazoo River Watershed Council have been awarded a two-year $530,000 matching grant that the Land Conservancy will use to purchase conservation easements to protect the most significant property in the watershed. The funds also will be used for outreach to property owner and education efforts regarding the protection of the watershed. 

The Battle Creek River Watershed encompasses 307 square miles and consists of primarily agricultural land. Its headwaters area has large tracts of undeveloped forests and wetlands. 

The natural headwaters area includes Ackley Creek, Big Marsh Lake, Wanandoga Creek, Waubascon Creek, and Clear Lake, all of which flow downstream into the Battle Creek River.

The identification of the property that most needs to be preserved started out with the Kalamazoo River Watershed Conservation Plan. Work on the plan, undertaken by SWMLC, the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council and a group of graduate students from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources, finished up in 2015. The plan identified parcels of land that were the most important to protect in order to maintain the best possible water quality within the entire 2,020 square mile watershed.

"The Conservation Plan’s mapping analysis showed large clusters of high priority parcels in the headwaters area of the Battle Creek sub-watershed, which is exactly the type of land that we are looking to conserve,” says Emily Wilke, SWMLC’s Conservation Projects Manager. "And these large clusters of high priority parcels were of equal interest to the DEQ, providing the best results for protecting priority waterbodies and effectively using nonpoint source pollution grant funding.”

The DEQ grants are intended to help restore impaired waters and protect high-quality waters by reducing or preventing nonpoint sources of sediment, nutrients, and other contaminants. 

Nonpoint source pollution is runoff that picks up both natural and human contaminants as it moves across the ground and eventually runs into waterways as pollution.

"One parcel in particular I am excited to be working toward permanently protecting with this grant is a very large property, with forested and prairie uplands, about 140 acres of wetlands, and 4,300 feet of frontage on Ackley Creek,” says Wilke. "The permanent conservation of this large property will help ensure the long-term sustainable water quality of Ackley Creek and the Battle Creek River downstream.”

Source: Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy
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