Skip to main content

Environmental Stewardship Division (ESD)

The Environmental Stewardship Division (ESD) provides assistance to soil and water conservation districts, drain commissioners and land users in the conservation and development of our soil and water resources. Programs administered by the division encourage the installation and management of sustainable resource protection practices at the local level.

Division Director

James Johnson

Our Programs

Conservation Districts - The Division works cooperatively with Michigan's 82 conservation districts who deliver ESD's soil, water and energy conservation programs directly to landowners. 

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) - Michigan's Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) was created to help protect our environment and wildlife. Michigan is partnering with the federal government to implement conservation practices of great significance to the state, and valuable to the nation, in matters of soil erosion, water quality, and wildlife habitat. 

Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program - This program consists of five methods for preserving farmland and open space in Michigan. 

Forestry Assistance Program - The Forestry Assistance Program (FAP) is designed to help private forestland owners manage their forests in an economically beneficial and environmentally sound manner. Conservation District foresters work with private landowners to increase the understanding of the value of forest resources. They also refer landowners to private sector foresters for management plan development, forest management practice implementation, and verify landowner eligibility for Michigan's Qualified Forest Program.

Intercounty Drains - ESD staff monitor more than 1,000 intercounty drains with a combined length of over 10,000 miles. ESD provides direction, holds public hearings, and oversees construction and financing of intercounty drain work. 

Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) - is an innovative, proactive program that helps farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks. MAEAP teaches farmers how to identify and prevent environmental risks and comply with state and federal environmental regulations. Farmers who successfully complete the three phases of a MAEAP system (Livestock, Farmstead, Cropping) are rewarded by becoming verified in that system. 

Michigan Biosolids Land Application Program - ESD provides education and assistance to encourage the increased use of biosolids recycling and application. 

Michigan Clean Sweep - This program focuses on developing a system for the legal, safe disposal of old, unwanted, suspended or canceled pesticides. By providing for proper disposal, MDARD and EPA reduce the potential for adverse environmental impacts. 

Michigan Emergency Tube - This is an educational tool for assisting Michigan farmers in developing emergency response plans specific to their farms.  

Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program - In 1998, Michigan became the first state to launch a voluntary environmental evaluation program for golf courses. Golf courses helped develop the program, which seeks to lower risk of groundwater contamination and support wildlife habitat. 

Migrant Labor Housing - ESD licenses and inspects Michigan's 4,500 migrant labor housing units.  The units are licensed annually and inspected twice a year.   

Qualified Forest Program - Michigan's Qualified Forest Program (QFP) provides a property tax exemption for private landowners who actively manage their forests for sustainable commercial harvests according to a Forest Management Plan written by an eligible forester. Parcels have to be a minimum of 20 acres to qualify for QFP and a landowner can have up to 640 acres enrolled per township. Enrolled parcels are exempt from the local school operating millage (typically 18 mills), and the taxable value of a parcel can be capped when a parcel enrolled in QFP is sold.

Right-to-Farm - Michigan has one of the most effective Right-to-Farm laws in the nation.  The legislation directs the Michigan Commission of Agriculture to adopt Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices and review them annually. These practices help farmers protect the environment and minimize nuisance conditions.

Spill Response Team - Through rapid response and land application of recovered materials, Michigan saves tens of millions of dollars in cleanup costs from agrichemical spills.