GLA Recognizes $1.8 Million in BMPs
Green Lake – The Green Lake Association recently recognized five members of the Lake Management Planning (LMP) team to celebrate success of an ongoing agricultural program that touts impressive progress: Five years, $1.8 million in funding, 54 participating landowners and 6,260 pounds of phosphorus diverted from Big Green Lake.
The best management practices (BMPs) include a series of retention ponds, grassed waterways, cover crops, improved tillage and other farming practices that jointly promote soil conservation and protect water quality. The practices keep phosphorus where it is most needed—upstream, on agricultural land and out of the lake.
Phosphorus is a critical component for growing crops, but inadvertent misapplication or field erosion can transfer the nutrient downstream during rain events, where it can degrade water quality. Since one pound of phosphorus can fuel the growth of 500 pounds of algae and weeds, the effort and its participating farmers have prevented 3.1 million pounds of weeds from growing in Big Green.
“This program is made possible in large part because of the collective efforts of five representatives of our LMP team,” said Stephanie Prellwitz, executive director of the Green Lake Association and LMP member.
At a recognition ceremony, Prellwitz acknowledged LMP partners: Caleb Zahn, district conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Department (NRCS); Ted Johnson, water resources management specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR); Charlie Marks, administrator for the Green Lake Sanitary District; Paul Gunderson, Green Lake County conservationist; and Paul Tollard, Fond du Lac County conservationist. Each was recognized for their outstanding work in funding, implementing and planning BMPs throughout the Green Lake watershed.
Typical agricultural programs offer only a partial cost-share for limited-term conservation practices. For larger projects, this can still require that landowners pay $20,000 or more for practices required to be installed for 10-15 years.
The Green Lake approach is novel because it uses multiple funding sources to cost-share BMPs that are free to landowners and installed in perpetuity. Practices are maintained by the Green Lake Sanitary District at no cost to landowners.
“We give something extra so that we get something extra. We’re trying to sign practices up so that they benefit Green Lake forever,” explained Marks about the importance of establishing long-lasting relationships with participating producers. “We have some fantastic landowners who want to do the right thing and deserve more recognition.”
The model is largely made possible because the Green Lake watershed in Green Lake County is one of four in the state to annually receive substantial funding through the NRCS’ National Water Quality Initiative. The program has been so successful that the area has received funding for six consecutive years. Additional funding comes from $400,000 in WDNR grants and over $250,000 from the Green Lake Sanitary District.
The effort partners county staff with agricultural producers to install “hard” BMPs (such as grassed waterways, stream restoration and retention ponds) and to implement “soft” BMPs (including cover crops and less intense tillage practices).
Producers who participate in the program work closely with the counties to pinpoint BMPs that best suit their operation.
In addition to the LMP partners, Prellwitz acknowledged the program would not be possible without the participation of producers in the watershed. “Because of them, 129 BMPs have been installed within the Green Lake watershed in perpetuity,” said Prellwitz. “That’s significant.”
Agricultural producers within the Green Lake watershed interested in learning more about potentially free conservation practices should contact Caleb Zahn, NRCS district conservationist, before March 1, 2017 at email@example.com or (920) 294-6140.