Pensaukee River Watershed Riparian Buffer Project
Shawano County, WI

Grantee: Shawano County Land Conservation Department
Basin Program Funds: $12,858
Non-federal Funds: $11,818
Project Duration: 00/0000 - 00/0000
Status: complete

Problem Statement
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


Great Lakes Commission des Grands Lacs.  2805 S. Industrial Highway, Suite 100.  Ann Arbor, MI  48104-6791.  phone: 734/971.9135.  fax: 734/971-9150. Join the Friends of the Great Lakes GLIN Partner