Local soil and water districts awarded nearly $800,000 for water quality initiatives
The Indiana State Department of Agriculture and the State Soil Conservation Board awarded $789,825 in matching grant funds to 13 soil and water conservation districts and soil health organizations through the Clean Water Indiana program. Including the district’s matching contributions, a total of $1.6 million will be implemented to improve soil conservation and water quality initiatives.
“Water quality enhancements and soil conservation practices are so incredibly important for our world,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Secretary of Agriculture. “Without the local county soil and water conservation districts and our farmers we couldn’t produce the amount of agriculture products that we do and care therefore environment at the same time. These grants are sure to increase soil organic matter and improve waterways for a lasting impact for years to come.”
The Clean Water Indiana program is administered by the state’s soil conservation board. The program, led by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, provides financial assistance to landowners and conservation groups that are working to reduce runoff from non-point sources of water pollution, whether it’s on agricultural land, urban areas or eroding streambanks.
Once received, districts can use the funds to partner with other counties or address specific needs within their jurisdiction. Some examples include participating in a cost share program, hiring staff, providing technical assistance, implementing cover crop incentive programs or increasing watershed capacity.
“These grants are an excellent way for soil and water conservation districts to get more soil conservation practices on the ground. But this work couldn’t be done without Hoosier farmers being so willing to implement new soil and water quality protection initiatives on their farms,” said Bruce Kettler, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. “These funding opportunities are a great way for districts to fund the help or resources they need, while still keeping farmers and soil conservation top of mind.”
Amy Burris is chair of the State Soil Conservation Board and is looking forward to seeing the work done on the grassroots level by the soil and water districts.
“Soil conservation and water quality improvements are not made by a single individual, they are executed by many different individuals and partnerships, including our local Soil and Water Districts and farmers,” Burris said. “These partners rely on Clean Water Indiana funds to make improvements at the local level which, in turn, helps our state achieve its conservation goals. I look forward to seeing each awarded project come to life and I encourage districts with a conservation need to apply, next grant cycle.”
Clean Water Indiana is managed by ISDA’s Division of Soil Conservation and funded by a portion of the state’s cigarette tax.
Below is the list of awardees.
Adams County SWCD – $35,100.00
The grant will provide financial assistance for the implementation of conservation practices to benefit wildlife habitat and soil and water quality with pollinator habitats. The funds will also expand upon the current pollinator plot, located at a local school, to include soil health practices and more educational opportunities.
Brown County SWCD – $30,975.00
The funds will be used for creation or restoration of a pollinator habitats and prairie plantings in and around Brown County.
Jackson County SWCD – $80,000.00
The project funds will be used for cost share to producers for cover crops and pasture/hay planting projects in and around Jackson County.
Knox County SWCD – $75,000.00
The funds will be used to hire a full-time Soil Health Specialist who will build relationships with Knox County farmers and landowners and assist them in their efforts to adopt conservation practices that promote soil health.
Lawrence County SWCD – $72,500.00
The project will allow the Soil and Water Conservation District to provide cost-share for the following practices: invasive species control, pasture/hay planting, cover crops, watering facilities, heavy use area protections (HUAPs), pipeline, access road and erosion site.
Marion County SWCD – $22,500.00
The grant funds will be utilized for district staff to develop a Rainscaping Education Program.
Monroe County SWCD – $125,000.00
The funds will be used for a full-time Conservation Resource Technician (CRT) for Monroe County for a three-year time frame, January 2022 through December 2024.
Tippecanoe County SWCD – $98,500.00
The program will fund a technical staff person, cost share for invasive species and education materials for the cost share program and invasive species.
Vigo County SWCD – $50,000.00
The program will offer conservation practices geared toward improving water quality, sediment and nutrient reduction, increasing carbon sequestration, controlling soil erosion, improving pasture productivity, improving soil quality and providing wildlife habitat. The cost share funds requested will be to implement conservation practices on pastureland for livestock producers. These practices will include a number of livestock best management practices such as: forage/pasture planting, fence exclusion, livestock access control, heavy use area protection, livestock stream crossing and waterline/watering facility. The remaining of funds will be used to assist producers in adopting vegetative practices which will address water, soil, air, plant and animal resource concern categories while improving farm productivity. These conservation practices include: Field Borders, Filter Strip, Riparian Forest/Herbaceous Buffer, Conservation Cover, Cover Crops, Tree/Shrub Establishment and Wildlife Habitat Planting.
Washington County SWCD – $71,250.00
The funds will assist producers in Washington, Harrison, Crawford and Perry counties by providing cost-share funds to implement livestock practices: pasture & hay planting, watering facilities, livestock pipeline, heavy use area protection (HUAPs), access roads and trails & walkways. When alternative livestock water is installed, exclusionary fencing of current water source(s) such as ponds, streams, etc. shall also be installed. Cost share funds will also be available for cover crops, conservation cover and wildlife habitat.
Wayne County SWCD – $29,000.00
The funds will be used to establish a demo garden on a one acre lot at the Wayne County Fairgrounds with garden beds, pervious pavement, and pollinator habitat. Cost-share will be provided to support urban ag practices to promote cover crop for garden areas, pollinator seed, soil testing and native plantings. Also, the funds will be used for grant writing technical assistance.
Wells County SWCD – $40,000.00
A cost share to producers in all of the Upper Wabash and all of the Salamonie River watersheds in Wells and Huntington counties for cover crops and equipment modifications.
Southern Indiana Cooperative Invasive Species Management – $60,000.00
The CWI grant funds will hire four full-time and one part-time staff who will work with Soil and Water Conservation Districts and other natural resource organizations to develop Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CISMAs). Assistance will be available to help these new CISMAs develop their organizational infrastructure and find the human and financial resources needed to begin effectively combating invasive plants in their communities.
The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) was established as a separate state agency by the Legislature in 2005. Administratively, ISDA reports to Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, who also serves as Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. Major responsibilities include advocacy for Indiana agriculture at the local, state and federal level, managing soil conservation programs, promoting economic development and agricultural innovation, serving as a regulatory ombudsman for agricultural businesses, and licensing grain firms throughout the state.