By DAVID GREEN
A grant from the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation might be used to help fund conservation efforts along Bean Creek.
The foundation announced last week it will contribute $5 million toward projects to keep polluted runoff out of the Maumee River.
“Our grants represent only a down payment on the clean-up of the Maumee River,” said Ellen Alberding of the Joyce Foundation, “but they strategically set the stage for local partners to leverage the funding necessary to make larger improvements.”
Four organizations will focus on nine projects in the Maumee River watershed, from Ft. Wayne, Ind., to Lake Erie.
The 8,316 square mile Maumee watershed is described as the largest river system in the Great Lakes region. The Maumee is said to deposit annually five million tons of eroded soil that contains pesticides, fertilizer, toxic chemicals and other forms of potentially harmful runoff.
The Maumee watershed was once a massive, forested wetland, according to the Joyce Foundation, that has slowly been converted into a mosaic of landscapes. Each land use contributes stresses to water quality, from inadequately treated municipal storm water to contemporary agricultural practices.
In the Tiffin River project, farmers will be enlisted to implement changes to help restore the health of the Maumee.
“Working with farmers—who are the front line of conservation—offers one of the greatest opportunities to make significant progress,” said Terry Noto, a consultant for the nonprofit group Environmental Defense.
Environmental Defense will help set up programs for farmers to plant trees and vegetation along the Tiffin River, restore wetlands, and improve sediment and nutrient management for water quality and wildlife habitat.
Environmental Defense is working to have the CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program) amended in Michigan to include Bean Creek and the St. Joseph River in Hillsdale County.
Participation in a CREP program in the Raisin River watershed was very good, Noto said, and she expects equally good results along the Tiffin and Bean.
From the river gauge station on Fulton County Road 20 north into Michigan, Bean Creek drains approximately 206 square miles
Amending the CREP would include southwest Lenawee County to add to existing efforts already underway in Fulton and Williams counties in Ohio.
“In Michigan we don’t have the green light yet,” Noto said, “but we’re hoping for approval by spring. Then there will be really good tools to use on both sides of the state line.”
Fulton County is included in a CREP program that was launched in September 2006.
Noto appreciates CREP projects for the fact that they aren’t part of a regulatory program. Participation is completely voluntary, although land owners do receive payments for enrolling.
• Buffers of trees and shrubs along streams
• Field windbreaks
• Filter strips
• Wetland restoration
• Shallow-water wildlife areas
• Controlled livestock access
• Conservation easements.
• Protect lakes, rivers, ponds and streams
• Filter runoff water of silt, pesticides and other pollutants
• Replenish water tables
• Protect topsoil from erosion
• Enhance wildlife habitat
• Encourage wildlife diversity
• Reduce flooding
• Increase oxygen levels– Feb. 21, 2007