By Rachel Watson - May 5, 2021
The Jackson-based Consumers Energy Foundation said Monday that it provided $500,000 to four projects that will help protect and restore Michigan’s land water and air through its second annual Planet Awards. The recipients are the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy in Kalamazoo, Huron Pines Resource Conservation & Development Council in Gaylord, Au Sable Institute in Mancelona and Bay Area Community Foundation in Bay City.
The awards are part of Consumers Energy’s commitment to building a sustainable future for Michigan, the foundation said.
Brandon Hofmeister Courtesy Consumers Energy Foundation
“Consumers Energy is dedicated to ensuring Michigan has world-class natural resources, and this means supporting the natural beauty that can be found throughout the state,” said Brandon Hofmeister, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “Out of an overwhelming number of worthy applications, we are thrilled to announce and support the 2021 Planet Award winners. We are confident these projects will significantly help preserve and protect Michigan’s treasured land, water and air for the enjoyment of current and many future generations.”
The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy will receive $100,000 for a project that will restore rich habitat on the 140-acre Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve through invasive species management, creation of a holistic management plan and community access. The project also will lower pollution levels and increase filtration of waters that flow into the Kalamazoo River.
Other winning projects
Huron Pines Resource Conservation & Development Council ($200,000) — The Protect Wild Places project will restore 5,000 acres of wildlife habitat and recreational land and 150 miles of waterways and Great Lakes shoreline across 17 counties through online and in-person events and conservation efforts in partnership with community leaders, schools, organizations and residents.
Au Sable Institute ($125,000) — The Good Things Grow Here project will engage local schools and mobilize 3,600 K-12 students to complete 30 habitat restoration projects in northern Michigan by 2024. Each restoration project will install 1,000 native plants for a total of 30,000 native plants installed over the next three years in northern Michigan.
Bay Area Community Foundation ($75,000) — Funding will support the Lake Huron Forever Initiative’s nature-based solutions and projects, community assessments and training programs to advance water quality protection and healthy, sustainable communities on Lake Huron.
The Planet Awards are the first of three $500,000 award allocations this year totaling $1.5 million. Additional requests for proposals will be announced later in the year for the $500,000 People Awards and Prosperity Awards. In 2020, the Planet Awards were put on pause to support COVID-19 relief efforts. Planet Awards winners in 2019 were the Michigan Nature Association, Conservation Resource Alliance and Michigan United Conservation Clubs.
The Consumers Energy Foundation is the charitable arm of Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider