Michiganders will soon be filling recycling bins and dumpsters and improving aquatic habitat thanks to a new program called On the Water (OTW).

Through a Consumers Energy Foundation Planet Awards grant, Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) received $100,000 to kick-start this OTW initiative — a spin-off of the organization’s wildly-popular On the Ground (OTG) program.

Since 2013, MUCC has been improving public lands through volunteer stewardship at OTG events. In 2018, the program logged more than 3,000 volunteer hours and positively impacted more than 600 acres of habitat.

But, because OTG is funded through a memorandum of understanding with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division, project scopes are limited to game species, their habitat and hunter access — leaving a whole world of opportunity on the water.

Freshwater is Michigan’s No. 1 natural resource, and connecting people to our resources is at the core of who MUCC is as an organization, said MUCC Executive Director Amy Trotter.

“Creating stewardship between Michiganders and their lakes, rivers or streams will help promote better habitat for wildlife, fish and recreationists,” Trotter said. “If we can connect volunteers to their waterways as anglers, hunters, canoers or kayakers, we are creating a true appreciation of Michigan’s greatest natural resource: freshwater.”

The OTW program will span 10 to 12 projects throughout the next 18 months and cover all corners of the state. Currently, MUCC has been completing two river clean-ups a year on the Manistee and Clinton rivers. Both of those programs will be rolled into the new OTW program. The program will operate almost exclusively on volunteer hours, and MUCC looks forward to engaging and diving in with volunteers.

OTW is much deeper than just river clean-ups, though. Our Great Lakes, inland lakes and streams will also be impacted by the program. An educational piece will accompany the program, helping volunteers understand the best ways to recycle and why it’s important.

MUCC Education Director Shaun McKeon also applauded Consumers Energy and their five-year environmental goals of:

  • Saving 1 billion gallons of water
  • Reducing waste to landfills by 35 percent
  • Enhancing, restoring or protecting 5,000 acres of land in Michigan

“For a corporation as big as Consumers Energy to understand the need for, and take the initiative in, healthy, vibrant natural resources speaks volumes to its character,” McKeon said. “Each small impact made by these grant recipients will, in the end, create a cleaner and improved resource.”

Currently, MUCC is seeking applications for the On the Water coordinator position. Please email your resume, cover letter and references to McKeon at smckeon@mucc.org. The job description can be found at mucc.org/staff/careers/.

MUCC is seeking organizations or businesses to partner on the OTW program through sponsorships, volunteerism and promotions. For more information, contact Trotter at atrotter@mucc.org.

Check back with www.mucc.org in the coming months to see what OTW projects will be happening near you.

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