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Featured Project: Reducing Sediment in the Paw Paw River Watershed through a New Local Innovative Program

Grantee: Van Buren County Road Commission 
State: MI
GLRI Program Funds: $300,000
Project Year: 2010
Contact Information: Colleen Forestieri, 269-657-4030 x129

A new program through the Van Buren Conservation District is funding the installation of sediment reduction practices on privately-owned, agricultural land within the Paw Paw River Watershed (PPRW) in southwest Michigan.

Photo before work, showing signs of
recent erosion.
Sediment is the highest priority pollutant in the Paw Paw River Watershed. Agricultural runoff and stream bank erosion are the primary sources of sediment in the watershed. This project is promoting the use of Best Management Practices (BMPs) on agricultural land to reduce sediment entering the river. The District is using an auction process where farmers submit bids on how much they think a BMP is worth implementing. The practices include cover crops, filter strip, no-till, and reduced-till on farmland. All of these practices increase the amount of vegetation or residue on a field, which reduce the amount of soil erosion. The practice must be newly implemented to qualify for the program.

After the bids are submitted, a Sediment Reduction Calculator, developed by Michigan State University, is used to determine how much sediment is reduced with the newly implemented practice. The bids are then ranked based on the cost per ton of sediment reduced. The bids with the lowest cost per ton of sediment reduced are selected for funding.

The first round of bids closed in June 2012. Contracts have been signed to implement 467 acres of cover crop, 160 acres of mulch-till, 65 acres of no-till and 5 acres of filter strips. The total amount of erosion reduced from these practices is estimated at over 1,400 tons over three years. A second round of bidding is taking place from October to December 21, 2012.

Photos of work (left to right): rock toe with erosion control mat above; root wads (tree
trunks into the eroded shoreline)

This new program is a partnership between the Van Buren Conservation District, Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, Delta Institute, Van Buren Drain Commissioner and The Nature Conservancy with funding from the Great Lakes Commission; Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Program. For more information visit Bidding for Better Conservation Practices at the Van Buren Conservation District's website.


Great Lakes Commission des Grands Lacs.  2805 S. Industrial Highway, Suite 100.  Ann Arbor, MI  48104-6791.  phone: 734/971.9135.  fax: 734/971-9150. GLIN Partner