Kashong Creek Watershed Streambank Filter Strips
Yates County, NY

Grantee: Yates County Soil and Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $10,000
Non-federal Funds: $5,354
Project Duration: 09/1994 - 04/1997
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Approximately 75% of the targeted area is in intensive agricultural production for vegetable and small grain crops. These crops are being grown on very productive and highly erodible sandy silt loam soils. It has been calculated, using the universal soil loss equation, that the average annual soil loss is 5.26 tons per acre. This figure represents soil movement from sheet and rill erosion only. Due to the high volume crops grown in the Kashong Creek watershed and corresponding inputs, sediments that enter the tributaries may have excess fertilizers and pesticides attached.

The goal of the Kashong Creek Watershed Streambank Filter Strips project was to reduce sediment loading from agriculture into Kashong Creek and its tributaries, reduce stormwater runoff, and maintain soil productivity. The project worked at creating landowner awareness of water quality issues and nonpoint source pollution, and to reduce sediment impacts on lakeshore property owners in the Kashong Bay area.

The Kashong Creek watershed is located in the Finger Lakes region of western New York. The watershed contains approximately 20,150 acres, with agriculture comprising 75% of the land-use practice. The Kashong Creek watershed is included on the New York State Priority Water Problems list as being impacted by agriculture, and is also identified in the Yates and Ontario County Water Quality Strategies. Kashong Creek and its main tributaries are 27 miles in length and flow through Ontario and Yates Counties and outlet into Seneca Lake.

Vegetable crop and small grain, corn and cash crop operations are the most prevalent agricultural operations in the watershed, with dairy a distant third. Excess water removal has been the most common type of conservation practice applied rather than erosion and sediment control. A strong demonstration program is needed to show the utility of filter strips, placed along streambanks and across field slopes, as a means for controlling soil erosion and sedimentation. It is estimated that 100 acres of filter strips are needed to treat the entire watershed.

Testing the sediment-trapping capability of switchgrass. Activities
During the summer of 1995, two college interns did an assessment on all the tributaries, drainage ditches, and waterways that feed into Kashong Creek. They categorized the streams into low, medium, and high risk areas using the Stream Corridor Worksheet from the Lake Champlain manual, Erosion, Land use and Stream Ecology. This information was used to target sites for remediation.

Switch grass filter strips were installed along waterways in agricultural fields. These filter strips were installed with a no-till drill. Switch grass is a slow growing plant material and is slow to become established. It will be two years before these strips reach their full effectiveness.

Filter strips were established along 4.1 miles of tributaries and 5 acres across slopes in agricultural fields. The success has been reasonable. In areas where the average loss was greater than “T”, it is anticipated that these soil losses will be halved. Approximately 2.5 tons of soil per acre, 4.3 pounds of nitrogen and 2 pounds of phosphorus will be saved per acre per year. This amount may increase after the seedlings are established.

The soils in this watershed are very valuable. It was difficult to find agricultural producers that were willing to take any land out of production. This limited the area that was actually planted. Additional incentives will be needed if this program is repeated.

Contact: Yates County Soil and Water Conservation District, (315) 536-5188


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