Wednesday, December 15, 2021 6:52 PM
SYRACUSE – The Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation (WACF) announced that the landmark Wawasee Inlets (WINS) Nutrient Study has helped achieve National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) designation for the Wawasee Inlets Watershed. Wawasee, making it a priority watershed for additional federal funding.
This USDA’s first program focuses on partnerships between federal, state, local and private resources to accelerate voluntary on-farm conservation investments that benefit soil health and water quality by reducing l erosion and nutrient runoff and promoting practices such as cover crops and reduced tillage to improve the soil. health, according to a press release from WACF.
The Wawasee Region Watershed is the first lake watershed in Indiana to receive this designation. It is one of 283 small watersheds selected nationally from around 100,000 watersheds to participate in this program.
The selection of the Wawasee region watershed was prompted by WACF’s investment in WINS which provided data showing how many nutrients and soil are lost from farmland and inadvertently end up in local streams and lakes. , according to the press release. This study was undertaken to protect the healthy watershed from degradation and maintain clean water for future generations.
“We are delighted to see our conservation efforts along with our groundbreaking ecological study making such a difference to our watershed,” said Beth Morris, President of Ecology for WACF. “We are completing the third year of the robust WINS study and with the expertise of our partner, Dr Jerry Sweeten and his team at the EcoSystems Connections Institute, we are already reaping remarkable benefits. “
“As a member of our local farming community and a member of the WACF Board of Directors, I am delighted to see the partnerships that the NWQI designation will support,” said Russell Anderson, WACF Ecology Committee member. “Farmers work extremely hard to protect their land, increase crop productivity and make their businesses sustainable. Having another resource to provide expertise and possible financial incentives is amazing. “
With the designation, WACF received $ 16,000 to begin the initial preparation phase. During this step, they will draw on the expertise of local staff from the Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS) and other partners to develop an assessment that identifies areas of opportunity, resource needs, develops goals and establishes metrics to monitor project progress. Additional attention will be given to developing awareness and education strategies in the watershed.
When completed, this will unlock significant federal cost-sharing funds to support WACF’s partners in the farming community for projects such as:
• Cover crops and no-till cultivation
• Restoration and protection of wetlands adjacent to lakes, rivers or streams
• Other practices that help reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and reduce pollution.
Healthy ecosystems include farmland to grow healthy food and clean water to nourish the land. The NWQI designation for the Wawasee Region Watershed is a giant leap in generational change to support both agriculture and drinking water in the community.
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