Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Reduction in the St. Joseph River Basin
St. Joseph County, MI

Grantee: St. Joseph County Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $23,440.00
Non-federal Funds: $12,730.00
Project Duration: 07/2001 - 02/2003
Status: Complete

Problem Statement
The average soil loss from sheet, rill, and wind erosion in St. Joseph County is seven tons per acre per year and at critical riparian sites the rates often exceed 10 tons per year. A key concern is that soil and nutrients are easily transported by surface runoff.

The water quality of Lake Michigan continues to be a concern. A leading contributor to the problem is soil erosion with associated sediment, nutrients and pesticides. St. Joseph County has more corn acreage than any other county in western Michigan.

Reduce soil erosion and sedimentation to St. Joseph River by implementing best management practices, especially 200 acres of riparian buffers and filter strips. Establish demonstration riparian buffer strips for education purposes. Create educational outreach to area citizens and land users through field tours, fair displays, and development of a brochure on soil erosion and sedimentation.

A key concern is for the district was that soil, nutrients and pesticides, including atrazine, are easily transported by surface runoff and erosion. At critical sites the erosion rate is well above the tolerable limit. The district was able to participate with one landowner to create a water and sediment control basin. This project addressed a large problem with runoff. Over the life of the project it is estimated that 1,300 tons of soil will be preserved and 11,700 pounds of phosphorus and 7,800 pounds of nitrogen will be saved. The district was also able to participate with a second landowner to build a grade stabilization structure. This project is working to highlight other projects in the landowner’s conservation plan. Over the life of the project it is estimated that 1,430 tons of soil will be preserved and 4,290 pounds of phosphorus and 2,860 pounds of nitrogen will be saved.

The St. Joseph County Conservation District, in cooperation with Michigan State University Extension (MSUE), completed the educational event outlined in the grant objectives on March 19, 2002. The district also completed the fair display, a promotional newsletter article and press releases to the Sturgis Journal and Three Rivers Commercial. The brochure development stalled and was not completed. (The staff person the district was working with at MSUE to coordinate and complete the information and education portion of the grant resigned. The position is not due to be filled until April.) Communication concerning progress was made to the MSUE office, but nothing was submitted and no additional meetings could be scheduled. The district continued to work in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to promote the program to landowners in the county who are interested in putting some sort of filter strip in place but are not eligible for the federal programs. The district was able to reach two landowners for project completion. Both of the projects mentioned above will help to reduce the amount of sediment and associated contaminants to the St. Joseph River and its tributaries.

Contact: Shelly Milliman, 616-467-6336 ex 5


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