Our regular monthly Board of Directors meeting has been rescheduled for Friday, December 15 at 8:30 am due to severe weather in the forecast. Meetings are open to the public at the USDA Service Center, 1127 E. State Street, Cassopolis, MI 49031 – normally meetings are held each 2nd Wednesday of the month at 8:30 am.
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New Invasive Species Threatening Michigan: Japanese Stiltgrass
Though Japanese stiltgrass has been threatening forests and wildflowers in the southeast and Midwest for years, it has only been found in Michigan for the first time this fall. One of these patches is here in southwest Michigan, near the city of Niles.
Japanese stiltgrass, which was accidentally introduced when used as packing material, can grow quickly and densely, degrading forests. “Stiltgrass can smother and outcompete native wildflowers, forbs, and grasses,” says Eleanor Serocki, Coordinator for the SWxSW Corner Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, “it’s been a major problem in other areas, so we have to work quickly to ensure it doesn’t become one here.”
The trick to managing any invasive species is to locate it early, before it can become established, especially since the seeds of stiltgrass can remain in the soil for up to 10 years. Because of this, the CISMA and the DNR are hoping citizens will keep an eye out on trails and roads, and during yard clean-up this fall. Stiltgrass looks almost like delicate bamboo, growing low (1-3ft) to the ground, with tapering leaves which have a distinctive silver midrib. It grows especially well in disturbed areas, roadsides, and wet forests.
If you think you have seen Japanese Stiltgrass, or if you have any other questions, please contact Eleanor Serocki at the CISMA at 269-657-4030×5 or [email protected] More information on Japanese stiltgrass are also available at michigan.gov/invasives or misin.msu.edu.
The Southwest X Southwest Corner Collaborative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) is a grant funded program to manage invasive species in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties. With funding from the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, the CISMA aims to help landowners and stakeholders in the Southwest Michigan area manage invasive species. If you have any questions on Invasive species, please contact the CISMA at (269)-657-4030 or email photos and address or latitude/longitude to: [email protected].
Photos Via Michigan DNR
What’s the Deal with Phosphorus?
Phosphorus is without doubt one of the essential nutrients for healthy crop production. Erez Brandvain, Cass County MAEAP Technician explains how phosphorus works in the soil and how important soil tests can be to save money and help maintain a high level of environmental health. Click here for full article.
Budget Hearing Notice
Cass County Conservation District
To all residents of Cass County, notice is hereby given that the Cass County Conservation District will hold a public hearing before the regular monthly District Board meeting with new location at
A-mazing Acres, 18430 US-12 East, Edwardsburg, MI 49112
on the 13th day of September 2017, at 8:30am.
The purpose of the hearing is to consider the proposed budget of estimated expenses and revenues of the Cass County Conservation District for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. A copy of the proposed budget will be posted for public inspection one week prior to meeting. A tour of recently MAEAP verified farm A-mazing Acres will follow meetings.
This notice is posted in compliance with applicable law.
Cass County Conservation District will provide necessary reasonable auxiliary aids and services at the meeting to individuals with disabilities, upon reasonable notice to the District. For more information contact Korie Blyveis, District Administrator at 269-445-8641 extension 5 or [email protected]
You are invited to attend and become a part of building the conservation efforts in Cass County. All persons interested will be given an opportunity to present comments at said public hearing.
Jeff Blyveis, Chairman
Cass County Conservation District
Invasive Species Can Be Crop Pests
The SW x SW CISMA has created a flyer addressing invasive species that can be crop pests such as Leafy Spurge, Autumn Olive, Black & Pale Swallow-wort, Glossy Buckthorn, and Japanese Knotweed.
Resource Assessment Survey
Please take the time to complete and return the resource assessment survey to us so we may better plan for future activities as we all learn new ways to conserve our natural resources. Feel free to give us advice on what educational programs you would like us to offer next and if you have a skill you would like to share then absolutely stop in and join our volunteer team – I do truly believe that together we can make a difference!
Korie Blyveis, District Administrator
Site Temporarily Shut Down
Due to problems with the template we were using our entire website was shut down for awhile. When it was recovered we lost several elements.
Please be patient as we rebuild and further improve our site.
Thank you – Korie Blyveis, District Administrator
Reminder Tree Orders Due April 7!
Please order your trees from our 2017 Tree Sale Catalog and drop-off the Tree Sale Order Form with payment by Friday, April 7 to ensure you get what you would like to plant this year.
Extra trees will be available only in limited quantities on the Sale pick-up days which are April 20-22.
Thank you for supporting our District and for your efforts to improve our natural environment.
Korie Blyveis, District Administrator
Protecting the farmstead from environmental hazards: Pointers from MAEAP
Farmstead Protection —
The farming scene in Cass County is at the forefront of agriculture in the state of Michigan. Every farm is unique in its operation; from variation in product to the nutrient management strategies, every farm business has developed an effective style of conducting its operation. The farmstead is an extension of this, and each farmstead has its own layout, along with the farm family’s sentimental stories about a particular piece of equipment and other memories from the old days.
But what are the commonalities between local farmsteads? It is safe to say that most local farmsteads are comprised of some basic items: A well, garage, shop, fuel storage, and maybe some fertilizer or pesticide storage. Farmsteads are designed for convenience; easy and quick fueling of equipment for example. While convenience is key, so is safety for the environment, the farmers, and their families. The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP), and the Cass County Conservation District provide advice and assistance in keeping the farmstead safe, while at the same time maximizing convenience for the producer.
So, what risks may be present on the farmstead? And what are the easy, quick fixes that can make an operation even more efficient? Currently, a major point of emphasis discussed by MAEAP is fueling facilities. What about a fueling facility could pose as a threat to the environment, and to your health? The answer has everything to do with groundwater, and there are solutions in place to reduce risk, ultimately leading to better long term health for all potentially affected.
As hard as it may be to believe, the smallest leak from fuel or oil can lead to major contamination. The process is simple; as a leak hits the ground, a portion of it works its way down the soil profile. Not all components of fuel are easily mixable with water because of their lighter weight, while other components are water soluble, which means those particles can easily bond to water. Once fuel remnants enter the water table, they may contaminate wells, and can potentially travel through groundwater and seep into surface water.
Fuel storage on the farm is very common here in Cass County. While it does pose potential risk to groundwater health, proper management is the best tool to minimize potential liability. Standards and compliance measures are put in place by the Department of Environmental Quality to keep the farmstead safe with the intention of maximizing convenience. By placing a concrete pad below fuel tanks and on the refueling area for equipment, the potential for risk is reduced greatly.
To learn more about the rules for fuel storage and handling, MAEAP verifications, and other best management practices for farmsteads contact the Cass County MAEAP technician, Erez Brandvain at 269-445-8641 ext 5 or stop in our office at 1127 E. State Street, Cassopolis, MI 49031 to discuss in more detail your farm’s situation.
Tree Care Workshop – March 29
Please call our office at 269-445-8641 extension 5 to RSVP for the upcoming Tree Care Workshop with Jeff Steinkraus, District Forester. We want to make sure there is enough pizza for everyone - we are supplying the pizza in appreciation of our volunteers (past and future). There will also be educational updates on invasive species and our new MAEAP verification system. See poster below for details: