Fish Creek Area Stabilization Program
The Nature Conservancy
Basin Program Funds:
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.
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
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).
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