Warren Suchovsky of Stephenson in Menominee County, became the state’s first landowner to achieve the Forest, Wetlands and Habitat System verification under the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program. MAEAP is housed within the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development with local technical assistance for this verification provided by the Menominee County Conservation District.
“I am pleased to announce that Mr. Suchovsky has taken the steps necessary to become the first Forest, Wetlands and Habitat System verification. This verification underscores agricultural producers and landowners long-term commitment to protecting the environment while maintaining economic success,” said MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams. “Michigan is leading the way nationwide in effective stewardship practices with the voluntary, incentive-based MAEAP program.”
“The MAEAP forest, wetlands and habitat system requires the development of a management plan based upon the landowner’s objectives to maximize the economic impact for themselves while also instituting good management practices enhancing the benefits to wildlife, water quality, and the overall environment,” said Suchovsky.
MAEAP is a multi-year program allowing producers to meet personal objectives, while best managing both time and resources. The program encompasses four systems designed to help producers evaluate the environmental risks of their operation. Each system – Livestock; Farmstead; Cropping; and Forestry Wetlands and Habitat – examines a different aspect of an operation as each has a different environmental impact. By participating in all four systems, producers can comprehensively evaluate their entire operation for potential environmental risks.
“The MAEAP process serves as a learning tool allowing landowners to evaluate best practices and areas for improvement on their forestland increasing the protection of wildlife, their forest and wetlands,” said A.J. Campbell, FAP forester, Dickinson and Menominee Conservation Districts.
To become MAEAP verified, the landowner must complete three comprehensive steps which include attending an educational seminar, conducting a thorough on-farm risk assessment, and developing and implementing an action plan addressing potential environmental risks. MDARD conducts an on‑farm inspection to verify program requirements related to applicable state and federal environmental regulations, as well as other beneficial management practices. When completed, the producer receives a certificate of environmental assurance. To remain a MAEAP verified farm, inspections must be conducted every five years.
In March of 2011, Governor Rick Snyder signed Senate Bill 122 and House Bill 4212, now Public Acts 1 and 2 of 2011, to codify the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program into law.