Grants: Land Use

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Parcel Assessment and Strategy Development for Permanent Preservation in the South Branch Flint River

Jul 2023

Approximately 12 years ago, WIN supported a project at Six Rivers Land Conservancy to evaluate properties in the upper Flint River Basin that may serve as future conservation opportunities. This “30,000 ft” assessment provided important information that has helped guide SRLC in their work in that part of the Saginaw Bay Watershed. Recently two parcels totaling 1200 acres, that were previously identified as extremely high priority in that analysis, have become available as conservation opportunities. With WIN funding, SRLC will to do a deeper analysis of these parcels, including on-the-ground ecosystem assessment, delineation of habitat boundaries, mapping, development of a valuation/appraisal, title search and overall environmental evaluation in preparation of making an offer and potential campaign to acquire the properties or a conservation easement on the properties.

Shiatown Park Improvement Readiness

Jul 2023

In 2019, a dam removal project was completed at Shiatown Park led by the Friends of the Shiawassee River and included support from the State of Michigan, the Land Bank,Saginaw Bay WIN and the Shiawassee Board of Commissioners. The redevelopment of this park, along the Shiawassee River, stands out for its innovative approach in addressing multiple needs within the watershed and promoting environmental awareness and conservation in order to develop top-rate natural recreation facilities. The county’s Five Year Parks Plan outlines the plan for the park and takes into consideration the community’s needs for additional water and outdoor recreation facilities. Funding supports: (1) Conducting a wetlands determination and comprehensive assessment of the Park’s wetlands' current state, identifying its boundaries, species composition, and ecological health. This information is crucial for conservation efforts, land-use planning, and making informed decisions to protect and restore these valuable ecosystems throughout the Park’s development process; (2) Installation of park boundary and trail markers to provide hiking and accessibility assistance, safety awareness, and river & trail access points; (3) Historic interpretive signage to provide visitors with information regarding the historic significance of Shiatown to Native Americans and as one of the founding communities in the county. This signage will also include information on the watershed, dam removal, and the importance of preserving its natural resources to encourage responsible behavior towards its preservation; (4) Floodplain determination, which is essential for effective land-use planning, infrastructure development, and emergency management, including a proactive approach to addressing the region's vulnerability to flooding and enhancing community resilience.

Gladwin City Park FAA Site Invasive Species Eradication and Habitat Restoration

Jul 2023

The Gladwin Conservation District seeks to restore and revitalize a 1.3 acre section of land directly off of the Trail of Two Cities near the Cedar River just south of Gladwin City Park. This section of land was clear cut by the Federal Aviation Administration and was left as an eyesore to the community, with several trees not removed and all stumps left. Since then, the area has been taken over by Dame's Rocket, an invasive flower. WIN support will pay for benches and plantings along the trail. The CD is excited about this project because it takes an area that is currently an eyesore to the public and turns it into a place where people can both relax and spend quality time while also having the opportunity to go on an educational journey through the property. Via interpretive signage and a nice trail, visitors will be able to learn about the importance of invasive species eradication and native habitat restoration, pollinators, bats, and more.

Nelson Woods Acquisition and Improvement Project

Dec 2022

The Little Forks Conservancy is working to acquire a 106-acre property (Nelson Woods) with approximately 1,900 feet along the Tittabawassee River. Nelson Woods will be the Conservancy’s fourth nature preserve along the river. The Little Forks Conservancy is currently seeking funding to acquire and improve the property. Improvements to the property would include creating a trailhead, signage, a river overlook, an accessible trail to the river, and other amenities. The project also has a habitat improvement component working with the Chippewa Nature Center to remove invasive species which are prevalent on the eastern portion of the land. The Nelson property is located between Sanford and Downtown Midland which has been one of the Conservancy’s priority areas for land conservation since its inception in 1996. This land is downstream of three other preserves, totaling 561 acres, that are owned and managed by the Little Forks Conservancy on the Tittabawassee River. Nelson Woods is in between two residential neighborhoods and only about three miles away from downtown Midland. This project will ensure that more people are able to enjoy and experience this nature preserve by making it more accessible. The funding from this grant would go towards habitat restoration through the removal of invasive species and property improvements to provide education to the public, an accessible path and overlook of the Tittabawassee River.

Chippewa Nature Center Land Restoration and Recovery

Dec 2021

Chippewa Nature Center (CNC) is found in a key location within the Saginaw Bay Watershed at the confluence of the Chippewa and Pine Rivers. CNC’s land management goal is to continue to restore its 1,500 acres of land that historically has been disturbed by farming, gravel mining, industry and invasive species into a healthier state. WIN funding from this grant will be in addition to a larger restoration effort being completed on CNC’s land made possible by a 2022/2023 MDNR habitat grant. A contractor will be hired to complete prescribed burns in several locations of CNC grasslands and one oak savannah. Forestry mowing will remove invasive plant species to create wildlife clearings and areas that can be replanted with native trees and shrubs also purchased by the grant. Turtle traps, tagging supplies, wood for wood duck boxes, snake boards and bat houses will be purchased to help some key wildlife that use wooded wetlands and to strategically tie in an educational component to the project.

Better Branches Regional Tree Initiative

Dec 2021

Better Branches Regional Tree Initiative is a project designed to set in motion a perpetual cycle of growing trees on vacant lots to repopulate our communities in the wake of the devastating impact of canopy loss. The product of this proposal would be an industry of community groups and volunteer participation working together. The product of that industry would be trees in their thousands grown locally and planted locally on public and private land, wherever they are needed. Trees sustain wildlife, provide shade, stabilize soil, build character, and serve as the lungs of our community. For too long, our tree canopies have been declining. While we may see trees everywhere, the quality, density, health, size, and diversity of trees in our region have all declined. A healthy place requires healthy trees, and our region’s tree canopy is under threat. The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy has been working for over five years on another troubling challenge, vacant land. Our Pollinator Project has empowered us to raise over $1 million to remediate blight, turn the tide of illegal dumping, and plant millions of new wildflowers. This work will continue and has triggered many new opportunities that are in their infancy but have great potential to play a role in the renaissance of Saginaw and our region. This proposal builds on that effort. Our objective with this new regional tree initiative, Better Branches, is to use one idea to solve more than one problem. In short, we would institutionalize the implementation of a regional “tree factory” by repurposing vacant land in Saginaw and beyond. This approach would create opportunities for our volunteer teams, summer youth program partners, and regional corporate volunteers to engage the landscape in a new way. It would provide educational opportunities for young men and women and would build an inventory of useful, homegrown tree stock to be applied in a variety of ways across Mid-Michigan.

Shiatown Restoration and Reforestation

Jun 2021

Proposed by Shiawassee County, in cooperation with the Friends of the Shiawassee River, this project is the final stage of the restoration of the 2.5 acres of disturbed grounds where the Hydroelectric power dam was removed with WIN support. While rye grass was planted on these areas by the dam removal contractor, the finished product is not reflective of the goals of the Parks and Recreation Commission to establish park like conditions and address broader goals including response to climate change. The project is innovative in that the plantings will be native, at a wide variety of trees and shrubs at advanced growth in the example of the recent Montgomery County, Maryland efforts on thousands of acres. A five year maintenance plan is included in this effort to assure survivability of the plants. Local schools will be invited to view the labeled/mapped plant specimens and the role these plants play in the environment.

Light Me Up LED Capital Improvement Campaign

Jun 2021

Proposed by Greater Midland Community Centers, this project seeks match funding to support the lighting conversion at the Greater Midland Tennis Center. The project will replace inefficient metal halide lights with LED fixtures. The existing LED lights located on five courts will also be replaced, reducing the wattage by more than 50%. Additionally, the scope of the project includes the following innovations: The indirect light fixtures will strategically follow the pitch of the roof to offer more even court level lighting. Further, highly reflective and durable liner will be installed on the ceilings and walls to reduce shadows by covering cross-beams, increasing reflection and improving aesthetics. The walls and gables will receive additional insulation, adding greater energy efficiency. A control system aligned with our point-of-sale program offers occupancy efficiency, time scheduling and high-end trim. Projections for increased energy efficiency show an annual savings of over $60,000 annually in energy expense. This is a significant savings for the organization allowing for greater outreach programming in the Great Lakes Bay Region and facility sustainability.

Lake Huron Forever – AuGres Community Pilot Program

Jan 2021

The Lake Huron Forever initiative was developed in 2019 by shoreline community foundations, the Council of Michigan Foundation, and conservation partners from the United States and Canada to advance water quality protection and healthy sustainable communities on both sides of the lake. The Lake Huron Forever initiative aims to support community conversation and collaboration in the design and implementation of on-the-ground work to strengthen the health and well-being of residents, as well as natural resources. Protecting water quality, ensuring the diversity of plant and animal life and supporting communities across the region means committing to the long-term protection of Lake Huron. In the coming years Huron Pines and our partners strive to engage communities and activate collaboration and partnerships to sustain a healthy Lake Huron through the Lake Huron Forever initiative. This project joins additional program funds and is focused on the “on-the-ground” development of multiple bio-swales for stormwater treatment, as well as the coordination and development of the “Lake Huron Forever” community program and communication tools.

Steih Park Renovation and Enhancements

Dec 2019

Proposed by Monitor Township, in cooperation with partners including the Kawkawlin River Watershed Association and others, the Steih Park Project seeks to renovate and improve an existing park in Monitor Township on the Kawkawlin River. The project will provide an improved kayak/canoe launch, increase erosion control, provide additional fishing access and more. To the extent possible, improvements will be completed using environmentally friendly techniques and sustainable design. The Kawkawlin River is a direct tributary of Saginaw Bay, and its watershed encompasses more than 400 square miles in 14 townships and 4 counties. Unfortunately, there is only a single, usable, public access site on the entire river which is Steih Park. To that end, Monitor Township has been reviewing the increased use at the site and has embarked upon an initiative to improve the park, which is located in the Village of Kawkawlin, with a focus on recreational use including fishing, kayak launching and access, erosion control and interpretive signage. WIN funding is specifically requested for kayak launch, fishing access, and interpretive signage.

Linwood Scenic Access Site Improvements

Jul 2019

Linwood Scenic Access Site Improvements are proposed by a coalition of agencies including Bay County, Fraser Township and the Linwood Civic Improvement board. A rare, public waterfront scenic access site exists at the shoreline of Saginaw Bay which is used by hundreds of ice fishers daily throughout the winter to access the winter ice. Heavy winter time use at the site results in parking being backed up Y, mile on each side of Linwood Road. In summer however, this rare scenic waterfront site sits empty except for the occasional, short slow drive through by bay viewers, they don't stop as the site lacks any amenities for public engagement. This project is innovative as it will convert a portion of the existing (expansive) paved parking lot into a "Green Space" to create a scenic public waterfront park providing for a rare Saginaw Bay viewing area, a restful, grassed gathering location with benches, picnic tables and spotting scopes. Beyond the green space extending into the Saginaw Bay, a 60' seasonal fishing dock will be installed to create a rare shore-based fishing access with an adjacent ADA kayak launch for direct water access into the bay. The proposal also includes a student intern component to better measure use and interview users about experience and economic impact.

City of Clare - Emerald Isle Recreation Complex

Jul 2019

Proposed by the City of Clare, the Emerald Isle Recreation Complex is currently being constructed on 26 acres of vacant, city owned property. This property was purchased by the city in 2012, to serve as a new park area. The multi-purpose complex will be complete with a universal design, incorporating ten varied size soccer fields, paved walking/hiking paths, exercise stations, a playground, concession building with bathrooms, two pavilions that will be used for family/group gatherings and for educational workshops, a paved parking lot, and a skate and bike park. The complex project will also incorporate conservation elements of a butterfly/pollen garden and a wetland area with interpretive signage. The focus of the WIN grant is the pollinator garden area and a portion of the nature playground. WIN funding is proposed as part of a local match against a pending application for state funding as well.