March 3rd Deadline for Conservation Practice Funds
GREEN LAKE – For six consecutive years, landowners within the Green Lake watershed have partnered with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to install land and water conservation practices on their property. Building momentum in 2017, the NRCS is currently seeking landowners or producers interested in adopting site specific practices that improve soil health and promote clean water.
While landowners typically have to cover a portion of associated costs, the Green Lake watershed in Green Lake County uses multiple funding sources which often results in little to no cost to participating landowners.
The region is one of four in the state to receive National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) funding, an NRCS program designed specifically to help prevent inadvertent sediment and nutrient runoff in priority watersheds where water quality is a critical concern.
“This is the watershed’s sixth year participating in the National Water Quality Initiative. We’ve seen success over the years in putting conservation practices on the ground to fix resource concerns,” said Caleb Zahn, Green Lake NRCS District Conservationist. Interested participants have until March 3, 2017 to apply for 2017 program funding in the watershed. The application is a preliminary process and does not mandate participation in the program.
Since 2012, $1.1 million in NWQI funds have gone directly into the Green Lake watershed through various best management practices (BMPs). BMPs include stream restoration, retention ponds, grassed waterways, cover crops and improved tillage, among others. In agricultural areas, these practices keep nutrients where they are most needed— on fields, fueling crops. Participants can be landowners and are not required to be producers.
BMPs also protect natural resources by keeping nutrients upstream and out of local waterways. Agricultural BMPs have been shown to increase crop yields and build organic matter, resulting in fewer required inputs and increased farm profitability.
These practices restore soil health and can improve various physical and chemical characteristics within the soil, including healthier microbial communities and improved infiltration, stimulating rich, healthy soil necessary for crops to thrive.
Participants work directly with the NRCS to develop strategies that best suit their property or specific operation. The program offers funding for over 110 conservation practices, resulting in BMPs tailored to each participant’s goals. This could include planting cover crops to reduce erosion through year-round living roots, restoring a stream to repair eroded banks, or installing a grassed waterway to channel flow during large rain and snow-melt events.
When possible, NWQI funds are pooled with additional funding from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Green Lake Sanitary District to result in little to no cost by participants.
Landowners or producers within the Green Lake watershed in Green Lake County interested in applying for NWQI funds or learning more about potentially free conservation practices should contact Caleb Zahn, NRCS District Conservationist, by March 3, 2017 at firstname.lastname@example.org or (920) 294-6140. Applicants with shovel-ready projects (designs completed and permits obtained) will receive higher priority.