Today Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced there will be more boots on the ground to help clean up our lakes because of an $80,000 grant the Land Conservation Division in the Land & Water Resources Department has been awarded from the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD). Starting this summer, the grant dollars will be used to fund a conservation specialist to work directly with farmers on ways to reduce runoff.
“People care deeply about our lakes, that’s why we continue to use every means possible, from the most advanced state of the art technology to the most basic practices like the farm to farm work this new position will do, to clean them up,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “We’re committed to a comprehensive approach that preserves these waters that provide so much for our quality of life.”
The position will assist with implementation of Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation planning and Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) grants under the county’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) grant targeting conservation work with agricultural operations and landowners in the Yahara River Watershed.
Dane County was one of only six counties in Wisconsin to win this grant from the NACD. A resolution to approve the position is before the County Board for consideration. Once approved, the new conservation specialist will work with farmers to implement new practices good for both their lands and water quality.
This new work begins as Dane County’s $12 million multi-year project known as “Suck the Muck” gets underway in the Lake Mendota watershed. The cornerstone of Parisi’s 2017 Dane County budget, “Suck the Muck” is designed to clean-up sludge with high concentrations of phosphorus from 33 miles of streams that feed directly into the lakes. When complete, the innovative project will remove 870,000 pounds of phosphorus, responsible for algae growth, from area waters.
The county is also in the process of conducting an analysis of where new digester facilities could be located to most effectively treat manure and potentially process it into biogas or other byproducts of economic value. That report detailing the feasibility of potential future digester sites is due back later this year.