It is with great excitement that the Rock Island Soil and Water Conservation District announces the approval of an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency 319 Grant for Copperas Creek Watershed. The grant was approved on the third submission of the application. Copperas Creek Watershed is located in the southwestern portion of Rock Island County and with area within Drury, Buffalo Prairie, and Edgington Townships.
This IL EPA 319 Grant will provide cost share assistance to landowners within Copperas Creek Watershed to address natural resource concerns and improve water quality throughout the entire watershed. Targeted projects include stream bank stabilization, filter strips, grade stabilization structures, grassed waterways, water and sediment control basins, as well as the development of educational and monitoring programs.
Please contact the Rock Island County Soil & Water Conservation District at (309) 764-1486 Ext. 3 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have or if you are interested in submitting an application. The Rock Island Soil and Water Conservation District is accepting applications for project cost share at this time!
Augustana student intern Alyssa Clarida was able to work three days a week this summer at the SWCD office to update the current IL EPA 319 Grant Application and Resource Plan for Copperas Creek. She developed the water monitoring plan that is a key component of the plan and collected water samples at six sites. The samples were taken to Augustana College for analysis. This will serve as a base line for future water samples.
The updated Resource Plan and the information that Doug Hessman collected last summer was submitted in a new IL EPA 319 Grant Application. Previous applications made the initial list from IL EPA for their consideration. But due to the large number of applications around Illinois, we have not been successful in winning approval. Persistence does play a part of the application pool. So we will keep trying.
One thing that has improved our chances is the support and commitments we have received from the Edgington Township Board and Rock Island County Highway Department . More information to come!
Copperas Creek Planning Committee co-chair Doug Hessman explains farming and conservation practices to students in Augustana’s Land Resources class. The tour started at New Boston Blacktop where Copperas Creek is channelized to the Mississippi River.
Water quality is a resource concern addressed by the Copperas Creek Watershed Resource Plan. We know soil erosion and runoff are affecting water quality, but we lack concrete data on the impact. Water quality monitoring data can provide that concrete data— helping us to better understand the resource concerns and treat them more effectively. We also know that using practices like filter strips, cover crops, and no-till will help, but how much.? Again, water quality monitoring data can quantify the reduction in soil erosion and nutrient loss.
Water quality monitoring data will also provide proof that grant dollars are needed for cost-share on conservation practices in the watershed. The big watershed grants recognize the importance of monitoring. Developing and implementing a monitoring plan will improve our grant applications and chance of selection. Even if we are not selected, the data will help guide existing resources and technical assistance.
RISWCD reached out to the Augustana College Environmental Studies and Geography Departments to assist with designing and implementing a water quality monitoring program for the Copperas Creek Watershed. Our request was enthusiastically received by Dr. Reisner, Dr. Heine, and Dr. Fockler, who were excited to provide problem-based learning opportunities for their students. Many Augustana students hail from urban areas, so this opportunity to learn about rural agriculture was especially exciting.
A mutually beneficial partnership plan was outlined. RISWCD and NRCS staff took a class on a tour of Copperas Creek Watershed in early December (pictured right). The tour highlighted existing conservation practices in the watershed and the need for additional conservation practices. Students saw existing streambank stabilization, cover crops, filter strips, riparian buffers, no-till, and more. They also saw areas where conservation practices would be beneficial. Staff pointed out the high cost of these practices and the need for financial assistance.
The students are working in teams to develop monitoring plans. The student plans will be reviewed by RISWCD and the Copperas Creek Planning Committee, and used to develop a water quality monitoring plan for Copperas Creek Watershed. The final sample sites will be chosen with landowner approval and support.
Every Geography and Environmental Studies student must complete a senior inquiry on a topic of their choice prior to graduation. Students who take interest in the watershed can choose to partner with RISWCD and the Copperas Creek Planning Committee on their senior inquiry. These upper-level Augustana students will begin collecting samples Spring 2015. The samples will also be processed by the students in Augustana’s lab. The lab work will follow protocol, and will be completed under the guidance of lab staff to ensure results are valid and recognized as such. Through the summer, RISWCD will hire two interns to continue the monitoring program. The interns will be mostly funded through an Illinois Board of Higher Education Emerging Professionals grant coordinated by Augustana.
As new students adopt Copperas Creek Watershed for their senior inquiry, we will be able to continue the partnership into future years. The projects will grow and change to reflect where we are in the implementation of the Copperas Creek Watershed Resource Plan. Augustana champions these types of partnerships—they even have staff to assist partners with grant writing when the grant provides learning opportunities for their students.
The Copperas Creek Watershed Project provides students with a great learning opportunity, career development opportunity, and the opportunity to make a real difference. This partnership will also help shape and educate the next generation of conservationists. We are excited about the opportunity to share our love for and understanding of rural conservation! We hope you are too!
Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
6 to 7 PM
Zion Lutheran Church
18121 134th Ave W. Taylor Ridge, IL
Refreshments will be served
The Copperas Creek Planning Committee is holding a meeting to present the Copperas Creek Resource Plan and begin addressing the Resource Concerns and Objectives identified in the plan. Landowners and farm operators will be invited to submit their vision for conservation on their land, including grassed waterways, filter strips, cover crops, water retention structures, grade stabilization structures, nutrient management plans, forestry, prescribed grazing, conservation easements, and streambank stabilization.
Please call 309-764-1486 x3 if you plan to attend.