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      Stabenow, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture launch new conservation program in Bay City

      U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Michigan democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow announced a new conservation effort in Bay City Tuesday. The federal officials are helping launch a multi-billion dollar program aimed at protecting farms and waterways.

      David Bledsoe has been helping clean up the Kawkawlin Rver for two decades.

      ??It??s health and maintenance has an effect of the Saginaw Bay,?? says Bledsoe.

      The 17-mile waterway feeds into the Saginaw Bay basin, Michigan??s largest watershed.

      ??There??s nothing wrong with the river but it could use some help,?? says Bledsoe.

      Help may be on its way from the federal government.

      ??We??re protecting our land, our wetlands,?? says Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan).

      Stabenow, along with other federal officials announced a $2.4 billion grant competition Tuesday.

      The competition awards money to organizations like the Kawkawlin River Watershed Association, helping them improve water quality.

      ??You??re going to see better tourism opportunities which will also spur job growth,?? says Tom Vilsack, the U.S. agriculture secretary. ??You're also going to see better soil quality and water quality which will also protect the agricultural diversity of Michigan,?? he adds.

      That??s protection Bledsoe's says this river needs to continue to thrive

      ??This is going to be a huge help,?? adds Bledsoe.

      The U.S.D.A. is accepting applications for this grant program starting Tuesday with a deadline of September 26th.

      As for the Kawkawlin River, the annual community cleanup is scheduled for next Saturday, 9:30 at Castaways restaurant.