$600,000 Watershed Partnership EPA Grant Approved!

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FEBRUARY 2013

The RCD is pleased to announce that we have received approval for a 319 Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), officially titled “Upper Babbling Brook Multi-BMP Project”, to address the stabilization and improvement of over three miles of Babbling Brook which flows through the Bettner Farm, beginning at its source and ending at the boundary of the Nachusa Grass Lands newly acquired Orland property. The grant application was mailed to the EPA in July 2012. 



To view/download the Grant Application (.pdf), click here.


Project Details:

• Stabilization of over 3000 feet of stream bank

• Installation of over 4500 feet of fencing to limit cattle access to the stream that flows through pasture lands

• Installation of several cattle crossings that limit cattle to stream access as well as crossing at non-erodible stream bank locations

• Construction of over three acres of a silt containment/peripheral wetlands area for increased water filtration

• Re-meandering of over 1000 feet of stream that was at one time straightened

• Re-tiling of current pastureland to allow filtered drainage of an area prone to soil erosion

• Development of a 10-year Watershed Maintenance Program to ensure long term viability of the project
 

As some may ask, “why the heck should we be interested in this or spend the dollars doing this?” Here are the answers:
 

The RCD has and will continue to be on a long term program supporting our mission, which is to protect and improve the Clear Creek Watershed of which Lost Lake is part of. In reality, of the 10,000 acres comprising the watershed, Lost Lake covers only a little over 88 acres (.9%), but is the “recipient” of whatever the remaining 9,922 acres throw at it. So in order to accomplish any improvement on the lake itself, and downstream to the Rock River, we need to do whatever we can to improve the rest of the watershed. The only way to do that is by reducing the amount of non-point sources of silt, fertilizers, farmland runoff, etc. that flow downstream from the water sources of Clear Creek and Babbling Brook. Currently, Nachusa Grass Lands cover an area of over 3000 acres which Clear Creek flows through. As stewards of the land, we have seen the work they have done reap the benefits of a major drop in runoff entering the lake through Clear Creek.
 

Babbling Brook is the other major source of silt and materials flowing into the lake. The Bettner Farm purchased land north of Hay Road, which contains the headwaters of Babbling Brook, and except for a few acres, contains over three miles of the brook. What this says is that this length of Babbling Brook is the last area we can improve to significantly lower silt and other farm runoff flowing into the lake. Nachusa Grasslands, with its acquisition of the Orland property that borders the lake and community, will manage the rest of the improvements on their property.


This is essentially the third major grant funded project supported by the EPA the RCD will tackle in the past 5 years that supports its mission. The first was establishing the Clear Creek Watershed Planning Committee and completing a comprehensive watershed plan, approved by the Natural Resources and Conservation Services (NRCS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This involved the RCD beginning a shoreline stabilization program that continues today. The second was the Babbling Brook Stabilization Project completed this past year.

These are significant projects, that when added to this grant, total well over a million dollars of improvement to our watershed the result of which will be improved water clarity, less silt, less fertilizers, more plant growth, more fish and aquatic life throughout the watershed, including Lost Lake.

Finally, collectively these projects will greatly reduce the amount of silt and other runoff materials that enter our lake and in some cases find their way to the Rock River by increasing natural filtration and/or greatly slowing down the rate at which water flows into and through the watershed and streams. Reducing silt alone will reduce future costs and frequency of dredging the lake. Once this project is completed, the RCD will be planning to dredge, the last of this long term plan we now have in play.

Cost Details of the 319 Grant
The total grant is for $600,000 of which $240,000 (40%) must be matched either in dollars and/or in-kind. “In-kind” is defined as hours, value of equipment and materials, donated dollars, etc., that are directly attributed to the grant. As an example, as Project Manager, I keep track of my hours and a value is placed on them. Although I receive no payment for those hours, as a volunteer their value goes against the match, effectively reducing actual dollars the RCD must pay out of its budget to support the project.

As a member of the Watershed Partnership, Ed Bettner and his family have joined the RCD’s efforts and have signed on to the Watershed Plan supported by the RCD, The EPA and the NRCS. Since the work will also benefit the Bettner Farm, the Bettner Farm will contribute $120,000 of the $240,000 required match. The RCD will provide the other half.



The Project Team will consist of Steve Larry, Project Manager; Marty Portner, RCD Liaison and PR Consultant; Becky Breckenfelder, Grant Administration Assistant; Joe Rush, On-site Construction Consultant; Rebecca Olson, Grant Administrator and Wetlands Consultant; Dick Baumann, Engineering Consultant; and Ed Bettner, Construction Manager. For those of you who recall the Babbling Brook Project, except for Marty and Ed, this team was responsible for bringing that project in on time and on budget. So we have an expert team in place for this one.

When will the project begin?
In actuality, it already has. Preliminary engineering and design work was completed as part of the grant application process and as noted above, our team has been formed. So actual “construction” could begin as early as this fall, weather permitting with completion sometime next year. Meeting this aggressive time line, although not easy, can be accomplished.

As for all of what the RCD does, this project will have full transparency. Updates will be posted on our web site and everyone interested in keeping up with the project may also do so by attending our regularly scheduled monthly meetings.



Grant Application Exhibits:

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