Partnership continues with local WRAPS projects

The Marion County Conservation District is continuing its partnership with three WRAPS projects that aim to improve water quality in the Cottonwood River, Mud Creek and at Marion Reservoir.
The Marion County Conservation District is continuing its partnership with three WRAPS projects that aim to improve water quality in the Cottonwood River, Mud Creek and at Marion Reservoir.
The Marion County Conservation District has worked as a partner with three Water Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) projects to promote the implementation of cropland and livestock conservation practices.

The WRAPS process consists of four stages: identifying the watershed restoration and protection needs; estab­lishing watershed goals; creating actions steps/plans to achieve the established goals; and implementing the plans.

• COTTONWOOD WRAPS PROJECT. This partnership, active for more than five years, has the goal to promote the implementation of cropland and livestock conservation practices aimed at improving water quality in the Cottonwood River and its tributaries. WRAPS also is working to reduce bacteria levels in Mud Creek.

The longterm goal is to reduce 280,000 tons of sediment and 229,000 pounds of phosphorous each year. These goals are met by implementing selected cost-share funding, including conservation crop rotation, grassed waterways, no-till farming practices, vegetative buffers, terraces and permanent vegetation on cropland fields.

Eligible livestock practices include vegetative filter strips, fencing off streams, relocating pasture feeding sites, off-stream watering systems and rotational grazing.

Priority areas in Marion County include Mud Creek, Clear Creek, the South Cottonwood River and Doyle Creek watersheds, as well as the watershed above Marion County Lake.

Changes for the new grant cycle of 2016-2019 include a change of sponsoring agency from Kansas State University to the Marion County Soil Conser­vation District. Lisa Suder­man is the new program coordinator.

Currently, $64,000 is allocated for approved project in various stages of implementation. Changes to Kansas Department of Health and Environment policy have limited the cost share for terraces to $1 per foot, and the producer must be continuous no-till. The Cottonwood Stakeholder Leadership Team will be adopting a cost-share program for no-till and cover crops in the coming year.

Cost-share funds are available, and applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. The current cost-share rate is 90 percent with a maximum of $15,000 per project.

• MARION RESERVOIR WRAPS. Marion Reservoir WRAPS began in 2003 and the grant has been approved for another three years, 2016 through 2019. The purpose of the reservoir WRAPS program is to fund projects to reduce sedimentation, improve water quality and reduce bacteria and phosphorous levels in the reservoir. The priority areas approved by KDHE are the French Creek watershed and the North Cottonwood watershed, which reaches north and south of Durham.

The Marion County Soil Conservation District remains the sponsoring agency for the reservoir WRAPS programs, but there has been a change in coordinators. Lisa Suderman has succeeded Peggy Blackman in that role.

Currently, $63,000 has been allocated for approved projects in the various stages of implementation. Changes to KDHE policy have limited the cost share for terraces to $1 a foot, and the producer must be continuous no-till. Current projects include diversions, waterways, converting cropland to grass, alternative watering systems for livestock and no-till/cover crop payments.

Cost-share funds are available and applications are being accepted on an ongoing basis. The current cost-share rate is 90 percent with a maximum of $15,000 per project.

• Kansas buffer initiative. The Kansas Water Quality Buffer Initiative Program provides extra funding for the continuous Conser­vation Reserve Program filter strips along stream channels in the state. Most of Marion County is eligible for this program. The county already has 57 contracts and 276.3 acres of filter strips.