History of the Saginaw Bay RC&D Area Inc.
The Council is charged with helping people protect and develop the economic, natural, and social resources in ways that improve their area's economy, environment, and quality of life. Council actions are designed to provide a way for people to plan and implement projects that will make their communities a better place to live. The Council works with partners to bring together people, needs, concerns, opportunities, and solutions.

The Saginaw Bay RC&D Area Inc. is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization within the State and is considered a 501(c) (3) entity by Internal Revenue Service. This standing makes them eligible to secure grant funds from private foundations and others, to receive private individual donations, and to become holders of property, etc., as allowed by their by-laws.

The Council was formed in 1991 and authorized in 1992 under the authority of the Agriculture Act of 1962, which provided for the RC&D program. The goal of the program is to help empower rural people to provide local direction and control to area resource conservation and resource development efforts.

The Saginaw Bay RC&D Area Inc. covers 15 counties in east-central Michigan including Arenac, Gladwin, Clare, Bay, Midland, Isabella, Gratiot, Saginaw, Shiawassee, Livingston, Lapeer, Genesee, Tuscola, Huron and Sanilac. However, the boundaries of the projects the Council becomes involved with are determined by the extent of the resource concern or opportunity, not by the administrative boundary of the Council.

RC&D Council representatives are volunteers who want a better life for themselves, their children, and future generations. Local County Boards of Commissioners and Conservation Districts sponsor the Saginaw Bay RC&D Area Inc. in each county. At large, sponsors also include: cities and towns, townships, civic organizations, regional planning bodies, local non-profit organizations, Native American tribal bodies, or private individuals with like concerns. Sponsors are active in the RC&D and appoint qualified representatives to serve on the Council to represent their interests. Sponsors provide input into the Council's actions through their representative.
Role of the Saginaw Bay RC&D Area Inc.
The role of the Saginaw Bay RC&D Area Inc. is to maintain an ongoing understanding of the needs of partners and the resources available, so that it can effectively use its institutional strengths to help partners access the resources they need to meet their resource conservation and resource development goals. Saginaw Bay's strength is based on; a diverse, volunteer, grassroots Council, relationships with partners, knowledge of available funding sources, NRCS funding support for a coordinator and additional program assistance, and abilities inherent to its tax exempt status.
Some of the Council's roles that have evolved based on expressed needs of partners include:
1. Understanding the needs of partners and understanding where to access the resources they need to meet their goals.
2. Understanding the needs of, and opportunities presented by, private philanthropic foundations.
3. Coordinating technical assistance.
4. Assisting with grant search, writing and administration.
5. Acting as fiscal agent for grand funding.
6. Hiring multi-county employees.
7. Help organizing events.
8. Conducting informational campaigns, tours and educational events.
9. Conducting research.
10. Coordinating research.
11. Facilitating meetings.
Some of the Council's roles are based on abilities inherent to 501c3 include:
1. Applying for grants
2. Raising funds for projects through tax deductible charitable contributions from people and groups interested in seeing the project succeed.
3. Raising money to assist partners through tax exempt income producing ventures.

The Council's degree of involvement is dependent on the circumstances of the opportunity. It is oftentimes appropriate for the Council to serve in a supporting role. As an example, a partnership developing a workshop may have sufficient organizational abilities. The Council contribution to the project may be limited to acting as the fiscal agent and assistance with mailing. When necessary the Council will take more of a leadership role in an effort. As an example, a partnership may be looking to find resources for a specialist to work with area farmers. The Council in this case may be involved in; grant writing, grant administration, hiring of the staff, and planning of educational outreach activities.

The Council's operating funds come from sponsor dues, and donations from partners. Project specific funding comes from: Federal and State grants, Private and Community Foundation grants, private donation and in kind contributions. The Council is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation and as such has tax exempt and tax deductible status. The USDA-NRCS provides for a full-time coordinator to work with the Council to identify problems, establish goals and objectives, build strategies and implement plans. USDA/NRCS also provides, office space, some equipment and supplies, and a government vehicle for the NRCS staff. The Council manages all of its financial matter according to generally accepted accounting principals.
Regional Needs and Opportunities
After review with partners and considering the RC&D Area Plan guidance, the following Needs and Opportunities have been identified as areas that the Saginaw Bay RC&D Area can have significant impact. Not all sub categories of the Area Plan guidance document have been addressed as during review it was determined that issues either do not exist or are being handled by others. In no way is this attempt to be seen as all inclusive and the resulting long term plan is expected to be a "living/changing" document as time goes by.
Land Conservation
Erosion and Sediment Control - A high level or management on land is required to maintain the very high levels of water quality found throughout the area. Small changes in peak flows and sedimentation rates can have large impacts on the biology of area streams and lakes. Areas which are of particular interest currently involve stream banks and agricultural areas which concentrate on livestock.
Water Management
Ground Water Quality - The characteristics of glacial sediments and bedrock vary greatly throughout Michigan. Efforts to protect resource and remediate for contamination need to be tailored to given local situations. Nutrient rich sediments, Nitrates, bacteria, arsenic and man made chemicals have been identified as existing concerns. Partners have identified the need for more resources to carry out well testing, data collation, research and mitigation efforts.

Surface Water Quality - The Saginaw Bay area contains a high density of outstanding and exceptional resource waters. High levels of land conservation management are required to maintain these resources. Partners have identified the following as key to protecting surface water quality; control runoff and sedimentation from field and construction sites, repair failed residential septic systems, repair and prevention of streambank and shore land erosion, promotion of proper timber harvest activities, protection and restoration of riparian buffers, conducting data collection and analysis, and promotion of shoreland development best management practices. The resources required to carry out activities are limited.
Community Development
Community Infrastructure - Public interest and participation in local government affairs is strong in the Saginaw Bay area, however, many municipalities, especially townships and small communities lack the staff and expertise to take advantage grants to help maintain quality of community infrastructure.

Agricultural Economy - The Saginaw Bay Area is rich in agricultural diversity. Many of the products grown here are shipped raw. Value added agriculture has been neglected in relationship to many of the products grown here.

Recreation and Tourism - Michigan's abundant scenic natural resources encourage area recreation and tourism. There is great interest in further development of carefully chosen public accesses, well planned multiple use trails and recreation development. Upgrading and maintenance of existing facilities will be needed to meet future demands. Identification and enhancement of Natural Resource based tourism has been neglected in many communities. Resources required to carry out planning, construction and promotion are limiting factors.

Education - Community partners support for K-12, post secondary education. Environmental education is strong in the Saginaw Bay area. Strengthening partnerships and finding ways to share resources and ideas will continue to be important to maintain the qualities that exist.
Land Management
Farmland Protection Challenges - Farmers can take part in the federal FPP and GRP easement programs. Property tax incentives and zoning rules are also used effectively to preserve farmland and avoid conflicts. The ability to promote the programs, incentives and rules is limited in some cases. In addition to individual incentives, actions need to be taken which promote a profitable farm economy in order for farmland to be preserved. There exists a need to increase efficiency in production, improve marketing, and encourage further local processing of agricultural products.

Fish and Wildlife Habitat
- Diverse habitats and high water quality are common in the Saginaw Bay area. This quality brings travelers and dollars into the area. Many organizations and agencies are devoted to maintaining and improving the condition of these resources. Threats to the resource include; ecologically invasive exotic species encroachment, improperly managed shore land development, aging rural and urban sewer systems, habitat fragmentation, wetland conversion, and wildlife damage. Technical and financial assistance, and public outreach and education for preservation, restoration and research are limited.
Council Assistance Opportunities
There are a great number of individuals, organizations and agencies working toward the goal of maintaining a sustainable natural resources base for future generations in the Saginaw Bay area. The Council's opportunities to assist these partners lie in its ability to help partners more effectively access available financial and technical resources. The Council's general objective in providing this support is to facilitate improvement in resource conservation and resource development, e.g., environmental protection, agriculture and forestry research, community development, marketing assistance, community education, and value added processing. The Council will maintain and improve its familiarity with area needs and corresponding funding opportunities, and develop the contacts with funding organizations necessary to help partners meet their goals. Where appropriate, the Council will promote grant opportunities, assist with grant writing and administration, coordinate technical assistance, hire employees, and assist in education, outreach, fundraising, and research activities. Detail regarding specific assistance activities is found in the strategy section of this document.
Council Goals/Objectives and Strategies
The RC&D Area Plan Checklist includes definitions for these items which in short are defined below:

Goals: Are broad statements that when attained collectively achieved result in accomplishment of the goal.

Objectives: Are specific and measurable items, which when achieved result in accomplishment of the goal.

Strategies: Are the kinds of activities pursued to accomplish objectives.

Based upon this knowledge the following is believed to be the path the Saginaw Bay RC&D will need to follow in the next 5 years to work toward its mission and vision. Goals are broken into 2 categories: those which deal with program elements and those which deal with program management.
Program Element - Goals/Objectives/Strategies

Land Conservation Goal

Will take steps to reduce problems caused by soil erosion and sedimentation in the watersheds

Objective 1
Help landowners install 15 Streambank Restoration projects
Strategies: Work with Drain Commissioners / Different Committees
  Funding Sources
  Complete two Streambank Erosion Surveys
Objective 2
Work with a variety of Partners to improve a minimum of two Road Stream Crossings
Strategies: Send letters / contact to County Road Commissioners
  Secure Funding
  Identify and Complete two Road Stream Crossing Inventories
Objective 3
Work with the District Conservationists in its Service Area to encourage participation of ten Livestock Producers in USDA-NRCS Programs
Strategies: Host a Pasture Walk to demonstrate appropriate practices
  Identify Watersheds where Livestock issues are important
Water Management Goal
Improve Water Quality throughout the Watershed

Objective 1
Work with Partners to implement practices that will help reduce phosphorus levels in the Watershed
Strategies: Secure Funding
  Work with local municipalities to establish three demonstration areas to filter surface water
  Disseminate educational materials to 1,000 households pertaining to septic system maintenance
Objective 2
Development of two Watershed Management Plans
Strategies: Work with the Drain Commissioners
  Identify at least three high priority areas
  Assist in the establishment of two watershed groups
Community Development Goal
Improve recreational opportunities

Objective 1
Increase public awareness of recreational opportunity by establishing web sites
Strategies: Partner with MIGREATBAY to secure funding for site
  Identify additional partner groups

Establish / Maintain two Resource Based Industries

Objective 1
Determine feasibility of using sugar processing by-product (lime) to enhance financial stability of local Sugar Company
Strategies: Meet with local Sugar Company
  Review potential uses of lime by product
  Work with Rural Development to fund feasibility study
Objective 2
Work with local groups to establish farmer markets
Strategies: Ask Conservation Districts for support
  Select communities to implement
Land Management Goal
Evaluate Energy Conservation Programs

Objective 1
Evaluate becoming energy auditors
Strategies: Identify training opportunities to become energy auditors
  Research potential partnerships
  Develop demonstration programs
Objective 2
Assist local groups evaluate alternative energy production
Strategies: Work with MSU Extension to evaluate forms of alternative energy
Objective 3
Determine viability of using stress laminated timber in windmill production
Strategies: Conduct an internet search to determine current organizations or agencies who have used or are exploring the use of stress laminated timber in wind mill production

Assist Groups/Organizations develop Farmland and Open Space Protection Programs

Objective 1
Assist in the development of programs
Strategies: Identify groups to work with
  Provide technical assistance
  Participate in the development of Full Spectrum Conservation planning concept sufficient for implementation

Improve / Protect the Fish and Wildlife Habitat

Objective 1
Work with Conservation organizations to secure funding
Strategies: Contact land conservancies to determine potential project activity
  Assist interested land conservancies secure funding