Today marked the 8th quarterly meeting for the Wetland Partnership project. Click here for a summary of the meeting. Matt Meersman and Marcy Colclough met with Julie Pioch to bring her up-to-date on the project. She will be working under the grant to develop a plan to aid with outreach to government officials about the ways they can use the information being developed through this wetland partnership grant. Julie is in charge of the citizen planner program with MSU Extension. Matt is working with her to develop an agreement/contract between MSUE and FotSJR. Julie stated that after a contract is completed and signed, she will begin developing a strategy to work with units of local government to show how the wetland information can be used in planning. This should take about two months. They will be including an add-on course focusing on wetlands to the MSU 7-week Citizen Planner Course. Julie is gathering information on what to include in the course. Once the lesson is developed the information can be taken to local officials. It will be a challenge to get Indiana planners involved since there is such a huge difference in local government structures from Michigan.
The parcel data is over 50 percent complete for the entire watershed. Matt, Eric, Brian, Melanie and Rachel are merging the parcel data by county.
The "Wet and Wild at the Well Field" was a great event held last week in the Christiana Creek Watershed. One hundred letters were sent out to key individuals owning wetlands classified as being good for water quality. Five of the people who received letters attended the event, with three of them being some of the top 10 landowners in their respective watersheds. At least one of them requested that someone follow-up and provide more information about the wetlands on their property.
Another upcoming event will focus on the Elkhart River watershed with a focus on restoration. Eighty percent of the wetlands in this watershed have been lost. An attempt will be made to find landowners who have enrolled land in WRP through NRCS to provide a testimonial at this event. Geoff will provide information about the tax incentives available through the Land Conservancy.
Regarding Outreach strategies, efforts can be piggy-backed with other events, but there will be several more events specifically targeting the wetland project. Geoff and Matt will be doing 15 minute presentations at some of these other events. One of the next events will be in the Steuben/LaGrange area of the Pigeon River/Fawn River Watersheds. Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy has agreed to help with 6 events with 3 in Indiana and 3 in Michigan – 2 focusing on protection and 1 with restoration. The other event in Indiana will most likely be the Elkhart River Watershed.
Our next meeting will be held on Thursday, December 20 at 10:15 a.m. in the Three Rivers Public Library.