NRCS-Michigan Conservation Notes Newsletter

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USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

NRCS-Michigan Conservation Notes Newsletter  -  January/February 2023

Trail Expands Birding Sites in Eastern UP

Stop on the eastern Upper Peninsula Bird Trail outside of Sault Ste. Marie.

The eastern Upper Peninsula already has two premier bird watching sites, now conservation partners are expanding opportunities for birders with the creation of the Shore to Shore Birding Trail.

The Seney National Wildlife Refuge and the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory are well known to birders who were looking for additional bird watching sites, said Mike McCarthy, executive director of the Chippewa-Luce-Mackinac Conservation District. The Shore to Shore Birding Trail includes 39 locations on Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron, as well as the St. Mary’s River and numerous inland locations, all publicly accessible.

The district’s primary role in the project was acting as a fiduciary by accepting grant funds used to print a flyer for the self-guided birding trail as well as signs and a website, said McCarthy who once worked at the Seney Refuge. The project, started in 2019, had some Covid-related delays. A kick-off event for the trail was held on Aug. 19 and 20 of last year in conjunction with the Paradise Wild Blueberry Festival. Over 300 people attended the event that included bus tours to the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory.

All of the sites on the Shore to Shore trail have markers and the brochures and website describe each location and which sites offers trails, restrooms and other amenities. Whitefish Point is known as a prime location for observing migrating raptors while the Seney Refuge is known for waterfowl. A huge variety of bird species, both resident and migratory, can be seen throughout the eastern Upper Peninsula. The birding trail is a great resource to observe these birds, and other wildlife, at clearly posted publicly accessible locations.

Wetland Mitigation Credits Available

Restored wetland

The Michigan Municipal Wetland Alliance in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources have wetland mitigation credits available in three watersheds; the Muskegon River Watershed, the St. Joe River Watershed, and just coming online will be the Maple River Watershed. Each of these sites will have forested, scrub/shrub, and emergent credits available at .

If you are a producer who has a swampbuster violation and is in either of these watersheds please contact us at the website above. We will work with you to resolve your violation and get you back into compliance. For more information contact Stephen Shine 517/930-8155 or

Employee Updates

New Employees

NRCS Soil Conservationist Justin Brown

Justin Brown - Soil Conservationist, Reed City

Last Position: MAEAP Technician, Scottville
Hometown: Bear Lake
Education: B.A. Biology, Fisheries and Wildlife Management - Northern Michigan University
Family/Pets: Longtime girlfriend Tiffanie/Labrador retriever Coosa
Hobbies & Interests: Duck hunting, bass fishing, and spending time with friends and family

NRCS Soil Conservationist Peter Hoch

Peter Hoch – Soil Conservationist, Tawas City

Last Position: Soil Conservationist, Linden, Texas
Hometown: Berkley
Education: B.S. Forestry – Michigan Tech, M.S. Soil and Land Resources – University of Idaho
Family: Single
Hobbies & Interests: Camping, hiking, photography, biking, repairs, video games

Michigan CSP Coordinator Candra Thomas

Candra Thomas - CSP Coordinator, State Office

Last Position: Resource Conservationist, Pine Bluff, Ark.
Hometown: Pine Bluff, Ark.
Education: B.S. in Agronomy - University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
Hobbies & Interests: Traveling, spending time with family, taking care of my plants



NRCS Soil Conservationist Zach Whitacre

Zach Whitacre - Soil Conservationist, Hastings

Last Position: Invasive Species Coordinator, Hastings
Hometown: Warren
Education: B.S. in Biology, Concentration: Microbiology - Northern Michigan University; Master of Science in Biological Sciences - Western Michigan University
Family/Pets: Fiancée Nicolette; pets: Arya, Vesper, and Turt-boi
Hobbies & Interests: Spending time outdoors hiking, biking, and camping. Also, enjoy reading and cooking

Sierra Halstead - Soil Conservationist, Cadillac

Staff Updates

Ashli Holloway - District Conservationist - Ithaca (formerly soil conservationist - Ann Arbor)

Juanita McCann - Civil/Agricultural Engineer - State Office (formerly agricultural engineer - St. Johns)

Toni Pastotnik - Soil Conservationist - Baraga (one-time district conservationist - Mt. Pleasant)

Charles Ronk - District Conservationist - Centreville (formerly soil conservation technician - Hillsdale)

Conservation Calendar

Upcoming Events


- Michiana Irrigated Corn & Soybean Conference, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Blue Gate Theatre - Shipshewana, Ind., for more information and to register go to

- Agriculture for Tomorrow Conference, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Bay de Noc Community College - Escanaba, for more information and to register go to

- Great Lakes Forage & Grazing Conference, 10 a.m. to 1:11 p.m., AgroLiquid Conference Center - St. Johns, for more information and to register go to

10 - Sustainable Intensification of the Rural Landscape: Protecting Soil Health, Water Quality, and Farm Profitability, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., AgroLiquid Conference Center - St. Johns, for more information go to

11&12 - MSU Tollgate Farm Maplefest, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 28115 Meadowbrook Road - Novi, for more information and to register go to

15 - Pruning Workshop, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Saginaw Valley Research and Extension Center - Frankenmuth, for more information and to register contact the Tuscola Conservation district at 989/6736-8174 ext. 3 or email

16 - Tree Pruning Workshop, 5:30 p.m., Country Mill - Charlotte, for more information and to register go to

22 - Holistic Management Foundations, 9 a.m. to noon, Olive Township Hall - Holland, for more information and to register go to

23 - Pollinator Workshop with Pheasants Forever, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.,  551 Courthouse Drive -  Charlotte, for more information and to register go to

30 - Wildflower Identification Workshop, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Caro Area District Library - Caro, for more information and to reserve a place contact the Tuscola Conservation District at 989/673-8174 ext. 3


29 - Woodland Stewardship 101, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Richfield County Park - Davison, for more information and to register go to

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Michigan State Office
3001 Coolidge Road, Suite 250
East Lansing, MI 48823

Phone: 517-324-5270