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Improved drinking water protection and reduced flooding rise to the top of a long list of positive impacts that will result from a newly awarded $7.5 million collaborative effort with federal, state, and local partners to carry out land and water conservation work in the Milwaukee River Watershed for five years, starting in 2021.
The Milwaukee River and its streams are degraded by excessive phosphorus, sediment, and bacteria from urban and rural stormwater runoff. Healthy soil gives us clean air and water, forests, crops, grazing lands, diverse wildlife, and beautiful landscapes. Protecting our land and water is key to sustaining the natural character of our watershed, as well as our resiliency to extreme weather.
The Working Soils® Program aims to permanently protect privately held working land in the Milwaukee River watershed floodplain. Healthy soils store rainwater, recharge groundwater and reduce water pollution. We work with landowners to acquire agricultural easements on priority lands. The landowners retain ownership and the right to work the land. Natural Resources Conservation Services staff work with the landowner and operators to implement an Agricultural Conservation Plan to improve soil health and mitigate future flooding.
The Milwaukee River Watershed Conservation Partnership was created to encourage information sharing and investment in agricultural conservation practices that promote healthy soils, clean water, and smart business. The partners implement conservation practices that are not only cost-effective for production but also benefit local waterways and protect the area’s natural character for generations to come. A funding allocation from the Natural Resources Conservation Service Regional Conservation Partnership Program, a U.S. Farm Bill Initiative, helped participants focus on specific activities and results for 2016-2021.
To help broaden and deepen public support for conservation, the Land Trust Alliance convened with community partners in Wisconsin: Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, Fondy Food Center, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, and The Conservation Fund. The Making Allies partnership is protecting floodplains, reducing flood risk, conserving farmland, improving water quality, and delivering good food, all while giving local farmers a helping hand.
Bishop Farm a Working Soils Property
To slow soil erosion, Farmer Ross Bishop in the Town of Jackson plants native pollinator seed mix to establish perennial prairie strips.
Heidel Baker Farm a Working Soils Property
Wiskerchen a Working Soils Property
Assist the agricultural community in improving soil health, water quality and reducing the risk of flooding. The MRWCP aims to promote agricultural conservation practices along priority streams and rivers.
Evaluate the performance of conservation practices on soil health; measure the impact practices have on agricultural production through outreach and practice demonstrations.
Support a vibrant farm economy by permanently protecting local farmland to ensure it remains available for production in the future.