Illinois Stewardship Alliance is pleased to join the team of partners and collaborators on the Upper Macoupin Creek Watershed project, a new conservation project funded through the USDA Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI). The project goals are to reduce nutrient & sediment losses at the sub-watershed scale, address the technical and/or educational needs of stakeholders who serve in advisory roles to farmers, and promote awareness about the importance of nutrient loss reduction to the citizens of the Macoupin Creek Watershed. The Upper Macoupin Creek Watershed project was awarded 1.4 million dollars in cost share for the next three years from the USDA. The main priority of the project is to reduce the amount of sediment and phosphorus leaving cropland and entering the stream. We will be looking to implement practices that can help reach that goal. Some of those practices include grassed waterways, water and sediment control structures, grade stabilization structures, cover crops, no-till or strip-till, nutrient management, conservation cover, and field borders. Financial and technical assistance for the farmers enrolled in MRBI projects comes from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Projects within the MRBI operate as partnerships between farmers, USDA, and other entities, such as non-profit organizations, state and local agencies, and conservation districts.
Illinois Stewardship Alliance, as a partner in this MRBI project, is responsible for the education & outreach of soil health and water quality information. One of the other major roles of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance staff is coordinating the water quality monitoring. Interns from the Biology Department at Blackburn College are in their 4th month of pulling water samples from Honey, Dry Fork, and Spanish Needle Creeks. The goal of recording water quality data before the new conservation practices are adopted is to record any reductions in phosphorus and sediment during the life of the project. The baseline levels that are being established currently in those streams should reduce in nutrient levels in the next three to five years and for generations to come. The area farmers are also answering surveys that tell what type of practices they have been using to date, this way we can better keep track of the level of conservation practices being applied moving forward.
The Macoupin County NRCS/SWCD office in Carlinville will accept Environmental Quality Incentive Program and Conservation Stewardship Program applications year round but those applications are only selected for funding when funds are released by our state office. They will be releasing those funds for this fiscal year in the next few months, so if you are a farmer in the Upper Macoupin Creek Watershed and have not been in yet to get an application signed then please do so. An application does not tie you to a contract, it just shows that you have an interest in receiving funds.
Where can landowners get an application or more information? Landowners can get more information at their local USDA-NRCS field office located at 300 Carlinville Plaza, Carlinville Illinois. They can also call us at 217-854-2626 x3 or email; firstname.lastname@example.org