Streambank Stabilization and Erosion Control
LaGrange County, IN

Grantee: LaGrange County Soil and Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $3,300
Non-federal Funds: $2,926
Project Duration: 04/1995 - 09/1996
Status: complete

Problem Statement
A recent survey of Amish land owners indicated that over half allow their livestock unlimited and continued access to open ditches or streams on their farms. The resulting streambank erosion and nutrient loading, from animal waste, negatively impacts water quality.

Feedlot erosion control

The goal of the Streambank Stabilization "Erosion/Runoff" Control Project was to reduce severe streambank erosion and sedimentation from feedlot and pasture sites along streams within the St. Joseph River watershed. To accomplish this, the project team informed, educated and demonstrated to area landowners, particularly the Amish community, the economic and water quality importance of limiting livestock access to streams and ditches.

LaGrange County has several miles of perennial streams running west toward the St. Joseph River which outlet into a series of natural lakes. The majority of LaGrange Soil and Water Conservation District's cost-share funding has been targeted at individual lake watersheds rather than the streams and county drains on the outlet side of the natural lakes. In this area, there is a high concentration of Amish farms, livestock, feedlots, and pasture fields.

The project demonstrated to LaGrange County livestock producers, including members of the Amish community, that excluding livestock from an open stream does improve water quality. In addition, livestock producers were shown an alternative water source for livestock watering that eliminates the need for direct access to streams and ditches.

Project personnel constructed a cattle crossing as well as reseeded a stream bank and installed protective fencing at one of two demonstration sites. At the second demonstration site, a spring was developed as an alternative water source for livestock watering. Fencing and seeding along the stream at this site were also completed.

Water quality tests (chemical and macro invertebrates) were conducted in July and September 1995 and again in May and September 1996 at each of the demonstration sites. Since the installations occurred between the two water quality testing periods, the water tests demonstrated before and after effects at the second site.

Fenced cattle crossing and reseeded streambank

The project efforts have resulted in a reduction in erosion and sedimentation where livestock have been restricted by fencing or the improvements described above were installed. The project was estimated to have saved 30 tons of soil/acre, 23 lbs of phosphorus, and 56 lbs of nitrogen/acre/year. Final chemical tests and rapid bio-assessment results showed water quality improvements in the feedlot and pasture areas. Results of the project will be published with photos and general practice information in local print media, including newspapers and publications specifically serving the Amish community. This will increase education efforts beyond the one-day scheduled field day.

Contact: Sue Schlemmer, LaGrange County Soil and Water Conservation District, (219) 463-3471


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