By Howard SWCD District Technician Hunter Slifka
After receiving a technical assistance grant from the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) earlier this year, the Howard Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in Cresco, Iowa, is fortifying its partnerships and increasing conservation on the ground. In addition to expanding over 6,000 feet of streambank restoration projects this year, the district has increased its capacity for grassed waterway implementation.
Throughout the county, Howard SWCD discovered a single ephemeral gully could cause around 45 tons of soil loss per acre per year. Grassed waterways have become very popular due to the increased frequency of intense rainfalls because they help reduce the dramatic erosion that can occur following a deluge. After constructing a grassed waterway, the district is able to reduce soil loss down to only 1 ton per acre per year. With financial assistance from NACD, Howard SWCD hired a technician to assist with grassed waterway surveys, designs and implementation.
After receiving this grant, Howard SWCD formed positive relationships with a number of local partners, ranging from individual farmers, community groups and members, to national partners like the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). Additionally, Howard SWCD strengthened their relationships with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and more.
In 2019, nearly 70 waterway projects will be constructed in Howard County, tallying over 18 miles of grassed waterways. This grassed waterway program is vital to Howard SWCD and its partnerships. Multiple programs are used to fund grassed waterways, including the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), state cost share monies and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds.
The day-to-day work that goes on within a USDA office could not be completed without a willing group of individuals who share the same vision and goals. NRCS, FSA, NACD and Howard SWCD possess a client-oriented work environment and create positive relationships and experiences with their community landowners.
Through collaborative relationships in Howard County, gully erosion is being eliminated one waterway at a time. For more information on Howard SWCD’s grassed waterway program, please contact district technician Hunter Slifka. For more information on NACD’s Technical Assistance Grants program, visit the Technical Assistance Webpage.