Buffer strips in the Cannon River Watershed
(b) $2,800,000 the first year and $3,124,000 the second year are for grants to watershed districts and watershed management organizations for: (i) structural or vegetative management practices that reduce storm water runoff from developed or disturbed lands to reduce the movement of sediment, nutrients, and pollutants or to leverage federal funds for restoration, protection, or enhancement of water quality in lakes, rivers, and streams and to protect groundwater and drinking water; and (ii) the installation of proven and effective water retention practices including, but not limited to, rain gardens and other vegetated infiltration basins and sediment control basins in order to keep water on the land. The projects must be of long-lasting public benefit, include a local match, and be consistent with TMDL implementation plans or local water management plans. Watershed district and watershed management organization staff and administration may be used for local match. Priority may be given to school projects that can be used to demonstrate water retention practices. Up to five percent may be used for administering the grants (2010 - Runoff Reduction)
Landowners in Goodhue, Steele, and Rice County enrolled a total of 174 acres and established grassed buffers along streams, providing improved water quality through reduced sediment, nutrients, and chemicals.
The Cannon River Watershed is a diverse watershed from the standpoint of topography, land use, and land cover, but a central issue of concern is increased sedimentation and turbidity within the river. One of the best ways to keep sediment from entering the Cannon River is to install vegetative buffers on the smaller tributaries in the upper reaches of the watershed. This project is important as it aims to help identify strategic locations where buffers are needed and to assist landowners to install buffers that will directly help reduce sedimentation within the watershed. Doing so will help the watershed work towards its goal of lessening the turbidity impairment for the Cannon River.
The Cannon River Watershed Partnership (CRWP) began a project a few years ago to map the land use in riparian areas for a few of the counties of the watershed. This data is important for Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) within the watershed in order to target the most effective places in
the landscape for buffers and other conservation practices. One objective of this project is to complete the mapping project for Waseca and Le Sueur Counties, which will result in the majority of the watersheds riparian areas being mapped. This project will also provide incentives to landowners in Rice,
Goodhue, Waseca, and Le Sueur Counties to install buffers and to sign up for conservation programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to provide long term protection and buffers of streams within the watershed. Currently, more than 100 acres of new buffers are already enrolled to be installed because of this project. The Rice SWCD is the lead for this project, in collaboration with its neighboring SWCD partners and the CRWP.