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Funding watershed clean-up

By Staff | Nov 23, 2013

THIS MAP OUTLINES Gere Creek in Cherokee County. A grant from Iowa’s Watershed Improvement Review Board was awarded totaling almost $300,000 to fund improvements that are designed to curtail sentiment and soil nutrients from eroding and leaching into the watershed.

PRIMGHAR- Receiving $299,942 in a state watershed grant by Cherokee County for Gere Creek was good news for Cherokee County, said Michael Henderson, district conservationist for Cherokee and O’Brien counties.

The grant is among 10 awards announced on Nov. 14 by Iowa’s Watershed Improvement Review Board.

“The entire local community will benefit with both better water quality and aesthetic value in the watershed,” Henderson said. “The goals of the project are to reduce the delivery of sediment and nutrients to the stream.”

The improvements promise benefits for local producers, landowners and community members of Cherokee County, he said.

“By utilizing the best (land) management practices to achieve these target goals,” Henderson said, “farmers will gain better efficiency in nutrient utilization and longer stability of production by reduced soil loss.

“The entire local community will benefit with both better water quality and aesthetic value in the watershed.” —Mike Henderson District conservationist, Cherokee County

“The county benefits by less-needed maintenance of infrastructure by reduced peak runoff and reduced sediment accumulation in the road ditches.”

A high priority in the project is the protection of the cultural resources in the watershed, Henderson said. He said the grant, when received within the next two weeks, will allow the district to proceed with hiring a conservation coordinator to oversee the project and to provide necessary technical expertise to address both landowners’ and operators’ concerns.

“This also allows us to highlight the unique and valuable natural beauty and resources in Cherokee County,” Henderson said, “and the Cherokee District to further its goal of protecting natural resources , while maintaining the economic viability and profitability of agriculture.”

The three-year funding, he said, will provide a higher level of cost share for implementing conservation watershed practices on and along Gere Creek, which feeds into the Little Sioux River north of Cherokee.

During this time, he said, additional resources will be available to landowners and farmers in the watershed.

“We will still be working in the watershed after the grant work to further the protection of the natural resources in the area through normal conservation planning,” Henderson said, while pointing to earlier Cherokee and O’Brien County watershed work on Mill Creek Watershed.

The latter was used to identify Gere Creek as the initial priority sub-watershed within Mill Creek.

The partnering agencies include the Cherokee County supervisors, Cherokee County secondary roads, NRCS, Pheasants Forever, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Sanford Museum, Archaeological Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Iowa DNR Private Lands, and the Nature Conservancy.

“Our goal is to work within the current agricultural system to protect our natural resource and at the same time maintain productive activity within the project area,” Henderson said

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