Fish Creek Area Stabilization Program
Fish Creek, IN

Grantee: The Nature Conservancy
Basin Program Funds: $14,300
Non-federal Funds: $6,000
Project Duration: 06/1996 - 01/1998
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Monitoring has shown that conservation tillage does not solve all erosion problems on steep crop land with slopes exceeding 10 percent. Many of these areas erode at rates greater than 5 ton/acre during storm events. Unfortunately, many of these areas occur next to tributaries or tile inlets that deliver the sediment directly to Fish Creek, Indiana. To control erosion properly on these small but critical areas, a permanent vegetative cover needs to be established to protect the soil.

Conservation tillage in action

Erosion control methods, such as conservation tillage, reduce soil erosion to tolerable levels in most instances. However, in some cases small areas within larger fields continue to erode due to steep slopes. These areas stay in row crop production because farmers are not willing to risk changing the crop grown on that small area or do not want the trouble of farming around them. This is often the case in the Fish Creek Watershed. Therefore, as part of the bi-state and multi-county Fish Creek Watershed Project (FCWP), the outlined program aimed to provide farmers with incentives to find more compatible uses for these small areas.

This project implemented a three phase approach to addressing issues which include identification of critical areas, landowner contact, and implementation. Implementation included development of a site protection plan. Interested landowners received a complete ecosystem-based plan developed for the field or entire farm. The program provided economic incentives to landowners at $0.01/square foot for the area permanently vegetated for a minimum of 10 years. Previously, the FCWP has successfully used this method to encourage watershed landowners to install filter strips on their property.

Phase 1: Local Soil and Water Conservation District personnel and key watershed residents were informed about the program and assisted with landowner contacts. An analysis of the watershed using a Geographic Information System was completed. The analysis identified landowners whose property contained highly erodible soils as well as Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land in relation to Fish Creek and tributaries.

Phase 2: Fourteen landowners were contacted about participating in the Critical Area Treatment (CAT) program. Six signed agreements with The Nature Conservancy. Many of the landowners not participating in the CAT program decided to participate in the CRP.

Phase 3: Six projects are at different stages at this time depending on the type of vegetation being established. The six projects include 31.26 acres. Three of the projects will use trees as the permanent vegetation (14.9 acres) and three will use grasses (16.36 acres).

Equipment close-up

Estimated soil savings through the program vary from 35 tons per acre to 4 tons per acre with a total savings of 435 tons per year on 31.26 acres.

Contact: Larry Clemens, (317)-923-7547


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