Pensaukee River Watershed Riparian Buffer Project
Shawano County Land Conservation Department
Basin Program Funds:
The surface water resources in the Pensaukee River watershed show extensive
nonpoint source pollution problems. Agriculture comprises about 70 percent of
the watershed's land use. Because of the topography and the current farm conservation
practices already being applied, staff will focus on keeping all cropped fields
within a specified soil loss in order to reduce sediment delivery to drainage
ditches, other tributaries, the Pensaukee River and ultimately to Green Bay.
The predominant sources of nonpoint source pollutants in the Pensaukee River
Watershed originate on croplands in the forms of excess phosphorus, nitrogen
and sediment. Project personnel predicted that establishing vegetated buffer
strips would provide significant protection to the water resource by delaying;
absorbing and/or purifying contaminated runoff before it enters watershed streams
and lakes. This project provided cost-share assistance for landowners who install
and maintain riparian buffers on their property.
The Shawano County Land Conservation Department (LCD) advertised the cost-share
program for establishing buffers in the Pensaukee River Watershed's biannual
newsletter. Two TV stations, 3 newspapers, a radio station and a dozen farmers
attended a press conference on a local farm to call attention to the agricultural
community's soil and water conservation efforts. The project manager spoke about
the cost-share program. To locate landowners adjacent to streams, LCD staff
produced a map using Geographic Information Systems to target fields adjacent
to intermittent and perennial streams. Then they mailed eight riparian landowners
information about vegetated buffers, including a map of their property with
streams delineated with 35 foot and 100 foot buffers. Five of these landowners
met with project staff to discuss the project in more detail, four made verbal
commitments and three signed contracts to establish buffers on their property.
Landowners have installed almost 22 acres of riparian buffer on their land.
These buffers will reduce sediment delivery to tributaries of the Pensaukee
River and ultimately the Bay of Green Bay by 192 tons of soil, 1920 pounds of
phosphorous and 384 pounds of nitrogen over the ten-year project. The riparian
buffer has also improved wildlife habitat by enhancing the tributary corridor
and is improving water quality by filtering out sediments and other pollutants.
The implementation and maintenance of additional buffers will also decrease
peak flooding and increase infiltration into the soil. Beyond the project period,
project staff anticipates reaching an additional 40 farmers, rural landowners
and elected officials with the benefits of establishing riparian buffers.
Contact: Frank Scott, (715) 526-9239