Plum Creek Erosion Control and Sediment Reduction Project
Brown County, WI

Grantee: Brown County Land Conservation Department
Basin Program Funds: $24,998
Non-federal Funds: $9,022
Project Duration: 07/2002 - 08/2004
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Plum Creek, a tributary of the Fox River, is the third largest contributor of suspended solids to the Fox River and the inlet of Green Bay. Land use in the 13 square mile Brown County portion of the Plum Creek watershed is comprised mostly of rural land use practices (78%) of which 77% is cropland. Although Plum Creek is listed as having impaired waters from nonpoint sources on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 303(d) list, cost sharing has not been made available through the Wisconsin Nonpoint Source Pollution Abatement Program.

The lower reaches of the watershed, specifically the Fox River and lower Green Bay, which have been identified as an Area of Concern (AOC) by the International Joint Commission under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, are plagued with both conventional and toxic pollutant problems. The primary causes of most of the AOCís 11 impaired beneficial uses are nonpoint sources of phosphorus and suspended solids to the Fox River and Green Bay. Each year, an estimated 1.5 million pounds of phosphorus are delivered to the Fox River, 80% of which originates from nonpoint sources throughout the Fox-Wolf Basin. Similarly, the 1993 RAP Update concluded that the vast majority of the estimated 200 million pounds of suspended solids delivered to the AOC each year are related to nonpoint sources. Progress in improving water clarity and restoring the quality of the Fox River and lower Green Bay depends upon activities to reduce the flow of nutrients and suspended solids.

This project Inventoried existing field conditions within the watershed and calculated sediment delivery rates to determine key fields to target. USLE, RUSLE if available, were used to calculate sediment delivery rates for existing and planned situations. Fields with high delivery rates were identified and landowners were contacted to inform them of the project. Maps showing field information, streams, potential buffers, and wetlands were created. The buffer and wetland information will be used in conjunction with the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). One-on-one contact was made with eligible landowners/renters to promote the project and offer technical and financial assistance. The Water Quality Monitoring project through Wrightstown High School at the confluence of Plum Creek with the Fox River was also continued.

A total of 1351 acres were enrolled in this program with five operators participated in the project. Fields next to stream corridors were targeted. Buffers have been established on 3.2 miles of stream corridor. The average is around 35 ft on each side of the stream corridor from the edge of the bank. We addressed rotations by switching participants from a 7 year (without cover crops) rotation, to an 8 year (with cover crops) and rotation. This rotation has not only helped participants with erosion control, but also has helped them manage nutrients more effectively. Currently, best estimates indicate that project has realized significant soil erosion and sedimentation reductions. The USLE model was run on 675 acres according to the 2 years that are on contract. The estimates are as follows for 675 acres of contracts based on the initial 7yr rotation and the new 8yr rotation with new tillage practices, with/without buffers:

  • Soil loss started at 3067 ton/yr for 675 acres of 4.5 tons/ac/yr. Estimates now indicate 1256 ton/yr or 1.9 ton/ac/yr, a 59% decrease in soil loss.
  • Sediment delivery started at 1101 tons/yr or 1.63 tons/ac/yr. Estimates now indicate 451 tons/yr or .67 ton/ac/yr, a 59% decrease in sediment delivery.
  • Sediment delivery estimates with tillage and buffers installed indicate initial sediment delivery of 1101 tons/yr or 1.63 tons/ac/yr. Estimates now indicate 142 tons/yr or .21 tons/ac/yr with tillage and 35 ft buffers installed. This is a 87% decrease in sediment delivery.

We had a no-till field day with corn silage dry down testing in combination with University of Wisconsin Extension and 4 area dealers at one of the participating producer locations. The 4 area dealers brought no-till planters and demonstrated no-till planting of wheat into alfalfa stubble in the fall of 2003. We had 32 producers attend this meeting. I also gave a talk about the Plum Creek Project and showed them some of the buffers that were established because of this project.

Contact: Mr. Bill Hafs, 920-391-4620


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