Today marked the 9th quarterly meeting for the Wetland Partnership project. Click here for a summary of the meeting. Matt announced that the Friends held another successful outreach event on November 7 at the Howe School in Howe, Indiana. This was the third official outreach event of the Wetland Partnership Grant, counting one in Branch County, Michigan, and one along Christiana Creek in Elkhart, Indiana. Matt explained that the wetland prioritization tool was used to develop a list of landowners that owned the most highly functioning wetlands for either protection or restoration in the local Fawn and Pigeon River watersheds. There was an approximate return of 7 to 10 percent of landowners that received letters in attendance at the event, with a total near 45 attendees including Friends and other Partnership members. Matt spoke at the event about the Partnership project and the important functions of wetlands. The local SWCDs gave a presentation on projects being completed in the area as well. Wood-Land-Lakes RC & D and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were on hand to talk to landowners about potential wetland restoration/protection projects. Scott Fetters mentioned that he is already working with 3 landowners from that night on wetland projects. He has two landowners in LaGrange County and one in Steuben County, with the largest project near 100 acres.
Matt and Marcy had a recent meeting with Jeremy and Chad from Michigan DEQ to discuss the wetland prioritization tool and the final deliverable product. They were able to give them the final, merged parcel data. Matt and Marcy expressed that they felt it was a productive meeting, and that Michigan DEQ is excited about the prioritization methodology developed through the Wetland Partnership Project.
Matt announced an upcoming event that is not associated with the Wetland Partnership Grant, but is similar in scope. He explained that through the Van Buren County CD 319 grant they are hosting two events on January 31, to discuss wetland functions in the Black and Paw Paw River watersheds. They will be held at Sarett Nature Center in Benton Harbor from 3 – 5 PM, and at Lake Michigan College in South Haven from 7-9 p.m. Matt explained that the meeting locations were designed to be at the downstream end of the respective watersheds.
Matt stated that the group needed to begin thinking about the next outreach event for the Wetland Partnership Grant. There have been two events on the Indiana side and one on the Michigan side. He discussed that the group would like to target the next Indiana event on the Elkhart River watershed, but there are currently no clear choices for another event in Michigan. Matt also discussed that there are areas in Cass and Van Buren Counties that have had large amounts of wetland loss, and this area might be good for targeted outreach. It was reiterated that the final data from the wetland prioritization model should be taken into account when deciding the next Michigan outreach locations.
Matt and Marcy gave a presentation to the St. Joe Harbor Authority concerning the wetland prioritization tool. Matt explained that it was a perfect group to target. It was explained that they are concerned with sediment deposition in the harbor, and the tool could potentially indicate wetlands that would be useful for sediment retention in their watershed. Matt and Marcy are also giving a presentation to health departments in the Michiana area tomorrow to discuss pathogen retention potential in local wetlands. Matt also gave a presentation to the St. Joe River Home Owners Association.
Matt thanked Rachel, Melanie, and Brian for their work in merging the duplicate parcels in ArcGIS for use with the wetland prioritization tool. This work is now complete and was delivered to Michigan DEQ this past week. Matt talked with Michigan DEQ about the final deliverable and what it will be. Other GIS tools have been placed on a read-only CD and work as a standalone program, but Matt explained that the hopes for this project it would be an online tool.
Our next meeting will be held on Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 10:15 a.m. in the Three Rivers Public Library.