Stony Creek Watershed Sediment Delivery and Soil Erosion Reduction
Door County, WI

Grantee: Door County Soil & Water Conservation
Basin Program Funds: $14,924
Non-federal Funds: $19,672
Project Duration: 06/1996 - 01/1998
Status: complete

Problem Statement
The Stony Creek Watershed has been identified as a high priority for the implementation of a large scale water quality protection and improvement project by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR has studied the surface water quality of this watershed and concluded that it is in need of protection and improvement related to sediment and associated nutrients which limit the abundance and diversity of aquatic communities.

Before channel treatment

The primary goal of this project was to reduce soil erosion and sediment delivery from targeted high sediment delivery agricultural fields located in the Stony Creek Watershed. A related goal was to foster a cooperative effort between the Door County Soil and Water Conservation Department (SWCD), University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension (UWEX), and the Door/Kewaunee Forage Council. The Forage Council is a group of agri-businesses and producers located in both Door and Kewaunee Counties, Wisconsin. Both goals will be completed through a cooperative effort to implement a quality forage based crop on agricultural fields, which have been identified as having a high soil loss rate and/or are yielding high sediment loads to Stony Creek and ultimately the Great Lakes system. A third goal of this project will be to change landowner attitudes toward forage based crops for their cash value and ultimately change the land use of these targeted fields.

The SWCD, with assistance from the UWEX, completed a direct mailing announcing the project to all cropland owners and operators in the study area. SWCD personnel then created a database using field size, crop rotations, soil types, drainage patterns and other hydrologic information to determine sediment delivery data. Using the data they developed a program cost-share policy and nominated and ranked a list of eligible fields. Personnel disseminated information about the project through a program brochure, articles in the Door County Advocate, UWEX newsletters, and the Door County Property Owners Association newsletter.

Because of the high costs involved with establishing a quality alfalfa field, the Door County Land Conservation Committee approved an additional $5,000 from the County funds to compliment the program's goals. Seven farmers signed cost-share applications for twelve fields totaling 216.9 acres at an estimated total landowner cost of $32,024.76 with a related grant encumberment of $18,715.27. All twelve fields had a sediment delivery rate of at least 0.35 tons/acre/year. The worst field inventoried had a sediment delivery of 5.07 tons/acre/year.

Pamphlet cover

A cooperative effort between the Door County SWCD, UWEX, and the Door-Kewaunee Forage Council developed, however, a joint County Forage Council did not develop due to a lack of participation and commitment. Efforts at changing landowner attitudes about the value of high quality forage and the benefits of adding alfalfa into their rotation is an ongoing process. This will be emphasized and reinforced over the three year post-project operation and maintenance period, as well as through other conservation projects in the counties.

The SWCD expects a 8.5% or a 270 ton reduction in the annual sediment delivery in the Stony Creek Watershed. This comparison is based on the continuous hay rotation verses the previously inventoried rotation through the use of the WIN-HUSLE Sediment Delivery Model. Also, the associated phosphorus load calculates the sediment load with a calibration factor, so similar reductions are expected. WIN-HUSLE estimated a reduction of 3,240 pounds of phosphorus to Stony Creek. Nitrogen reductions are estimated to be one fifth of the phosphorus savings and are approximately 648 pounds.

Contact: Thomas Sweeney, (414) 746-2214


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