STANWOOD -- Nestlé Waters North America, in collaboration with the Fremont Area Community Foundation, is pleased to announce the 2020 recipients of the Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund grant awards.

The IMESF supports the long-term sustainability of the Muskegon River and its ecosystems by funding environmental conservation projects and programs throughout the watershed.

The 2020 IMESF grant recipients' projects include:

• Central Michigan District Health Department: Scanning to Preserve Septic and Well Permits -- The grant will fund the scanning and preservation of sewage system and water well permits in Clare, Osceola, and Roscommon counties. Residents, businesses, and industries rely on wells for clean drinking water and other daily needs. They also rely on sewage treatment systems that equally treat and discharge domestic wastewater in a manner that does not expose people to harmful organisms or degrade the environment.

• Mecosta County Park Commission: Professional Engineering Services for Slope Stabilization, Erosion Repair and Access Enhancement at Davis Bridge Day Use Park -- This project will evaluate current bank stability and recommend improvements related to erosion and slope stability. This includes designing safe and sustainable access points for use of the Muskegon River as well as drafting bid documents, including a plan set and specifications ready for construction. Davis Bridge County Park is an important access point along the Muskegon River as it provides year-round opportunities for picnicking, fishing, hiking, and boating access for residents of Mecosta and Newaygo counties as well as many regional visitors.

• Grant Public Schools: Environmental Stewardship-Sandy Beach Buffer Zone Project -- The purpose of this project is to educate students about environmental careers while empowering them to be community ambassadors. The students will play a key role in increasing the number of native Michigan plants at Sandy Beach, creating a natural habitat for pollinators while decreasing the amount of storm water runoff flowing into the lake. They will help select the plants, design the buffer zone and guide the project from start to finish.

• Mecosta Conservation District: 2020 Household Hazardous Waste Collection -- This project will provide residents of Mecosta, Osceola and Lake Counties with a safe method to dispose of toxic and hazardous products in order to protect our environment. The objective is to prevent water/ground pollution through a more specialized approach to discarding harmful, hard- to-get-rid-ofproducts. The collection is held on the second Saturday of October. Currently, there are no other collection programs in Mecosta and Osceola Counties or the east half of Lake County that allow residents to dispose of their hazardous waste. The need for hazardous waste collection is high for this area since landfills, waste haulers and recycling centers do not allow these types of toxic materials as a part of their collection and processing procedures.

• Muskegon River Watershed Assembly: Empowering Landowners to Action: Using Restoration Showcase Sites to control erosion pollution in the Muskegon River Watershed -- With the variable water levels in the Muskegon River Watershed causing increased erosion along shorelines, riparian landowners have reached out to MRWA for solutions. This project will stabilize over 500 feet of eroding streambank and establish Restoration Showcase sites to provide the public with tangible examples and educational material on techniques to appropriately stabilize banks in an aesthetically pleasing and ecologically appropriate manner. The work will focus on developing educational tools that would be distributed throughout the Muskegon River Watershed and help educate landowners (private and municipal) about the steps needed to accomplish an appropriate streambank stabilization project.

The 2021 IMESF grant application period is June 1 - July 15, 2021. For more information and to apply for consideration for a 2021 IMESF grant, please visit communityfoundation.org/grants/types-of-grants/ice-mountain.

Funds provided through the IMESF support projects located anywhere along the 2,700-square-mile watershed stretching across 12 counties from near Houghton Lake to the City of Muskegon. Projects funded by IMESF grants over the past 18 years have included erosion control, rain gardens, restoration to creeks, dams and nature areas, site clean-ups and improvements, among many others.

In 2019, NWNA committed an additional $2 million investment into the IMESF to support conservation projects for the next 20+ years.

"We are honored to support Michigan organizations that share our collective goal to help preserve the Muskegon River Watershed and we look forward to seeing the successful projects led by the 2020 IMESF recipients," said Arlene Anderson-Vincent, Natural Resource Manager in the Midwest for Nestlé Waters. "Since its inception in 2002, the Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund has awarded nearly $700,000 in grants to local organizations that are devoted to improving, enhancing, and protecting the Muskegon River. It's just one of the many ways we continue to show our commitment to helping to conserve Michigan's natural resources."

The IMESF is managed by the Fremont Area Community Foundation, located in Newaygo County within the heart of the Muskegon River Watershed. The Community Foundation connects the needs of the community with generous donors who want to make a difference.

"Fremont Area Community Foundation is proud to work with Nestlé Waters to steward this fund and partner with organizations doing important work to conserve and enhance the Muskegon River Watershed," said Carla Roberts, Fremont Area Community Foundation President and CEO. "Like the watershed itself, an endowed fund is a resource that, if preserved and stewarded carefully, will continue to benefit our region for generations to come. We are grateful for the generosity of Nestlé Waters and for the dedication, passion, and innovation of our community partners."

For more information about Fremont Area Community Foundation, call (231) 924-5350 or visit facommunityfoundation.org.