SWCD Partners With The Nature Conservancy, Landowners To Benefit White River Watershed
Owen County Soil & Water Conservation District Executive Director Eric LaFary continues to look for ways to improve our county’s waterways.
In addition to a secured Lake & River Enhancement (LRE) grant of $20,000, LaFary has teamed with The Nature Conservancy’s Cassie Hauswald and Kent Wamsley to use an Environmental Protection Agency 319 grant to place two-stage ditches along the Lower White River Watershed in the Limestone Creek Watershed, connected to Lake Hollybrook.
The two-stage ditch decreases velocity of water flow and increases the capacity of the ditch in order to control water and remedy sediments, nitrates and nutrients not ideal for the local water source.
The work is aimed at reducing nutrients, bacteria and sediment in the waterways. The SWCD will also utilize an in-kind match donation of labor from the Owen County Highway Department.
“We’re not sure of the entire scope of the work just yet, but it looks as if they will do a half mile to a mile of ditching. These are ditches the county typically has to work on after a major rain event and these are semipermanent structures,” LaFary explained. “The county highway department will provide labor for an in-kind match, The Nature Conservancy will provide money to compensate them. Some of the ditching is on private property, so we’ll have some private contractors doing some of the work. We’ll use our LRE funding to literally top it off by seeding it and putting down some erosion control blankets and that sort of thing.”
Work will be focused in Harrison Township and include areas on the property of two collaborating landowners.
“This is very exciting and our hope is that by demonstrating a successful partnership with multiple agencies with this LRE grant, we’ll be able to apply for a larger amount next round to allow us to work further down the Limestone Creek Watershed,” LaFary added. “Realistically, we’re eight or nine months away from this work getting done, so it lines up well. Our focus is starting at the top and going to the bottom. It has been a bottom-up focus for a number of years and it hasn’t solved the sedimentation issues at Lake Hollybrook, so we feel like this is a good start and an excellent opportunity to make a big impact, not only for the county, but for Limestone Creek in particularly.”
The SWCD has yet to begin work using funding received from a Clean Water Indiana grant, but LaFary has identified four landowners with 50-plus acres which contain water bodies who are interested in completing some conservation work.”
He has also approached the Town of Gosport, where the town council has offered up two empty lots for a park to catch urban run-off.
LaFary and his board of directors also recently met with the Monroe County Soil & Water Conservation District.
“There aren’t many water bodies that are high priority that don’t cross over county boundaries, so we’re working hard to build those relationships with Monroe County,” he said. “We have a relationship with Putnam County, we have been in contact with Greene County and next is Clay. We’re trying to refocus.”
The Owen County Soil & Water Conservation District’s Board of Directors includes chairman John Trueblood, vice chairman Greg Davies, secretary Paul Cummings, and two new members; Letha Dyer and John Thacker.
The SWCD office is always available to assist with any and all soil and water needs. LaFary can be contacted by phone at 829-2605, or by email at email@example.com. The office is located inside the Farm Bureau building on East Franklin Street in Spencer.
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