Lewis and Clark NRD Awarded NET Funding for Second Year of Bow Creek Watershed Project

August 24, 2021

The Lewis and Clark Natural Resources District was awarded second year funding totaling $85,195 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for the Bow Creek Watershed Project. The Bow Creek Watershed Project works to protect and restore water resources in the Bow Creek Watershed. Four stream segments in Bow Creek are listed on Nebraska’s impaired waterbodies list. Three are impaired for E. coli bacteria and one is impaired for E. coli bacteria and Aquatic Life Use.

The Bow Creek Watershed Project focuses on helping producers implement best management practices such as stream buffers, no-till conversion, cover crops, conservation crop rotations, nutrient management and grazing management through an incentive and education program. These best management practices have been shown to decrease contaminant loads reaching the stream. Working with partner organizations the Bow Creek Watershed Project can offer additional incentives, education and support for producers interested in implementing these and other conservation practices.

One of the educational opportunities to learn more about the project and practice impacts started in the winter of 2020-21 when a peer group of interested producers agreed to participate in demonstration farms in the watershed and to implement best management practices in a soil health management system. In June, three of these farms were visited as part of a public field day to see observe the implementation of conservation practices and discuss challenges, concerns, and successes of their implementation. Guest speakers included Aaron Hird, NRCS Soil Health Specialist and Paul Jasa, UNL Extension Engineer and no-till equipment expert. This summer baseline water quality samples from a dozen sites around the watershed will be collected and evaluated weekly for E. coli bacteria, nutrients, and total suspended solids. In May and June samples will also be analyzed for Atrazine. This information will help to prioritize practices and areas for conservation practice implementation. The same twelve sites will be evaluated again after best management practices are implemented to evaluate the impact these practices are having on improving water quality in Bow Creek. Volunteers interested in helping with water testing in the field, or preparations in the office, are encouraged to contact the Bow Creek Watershed Coordinator, Becky Ravenkamp, at 402-254-6758.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992 using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery. The Nebraska Environmental Trust has provided over $328 million in grants to over 2300 projects across the state. Anyone – citizens, organizations, communities, farmers and businesses - can apply for funding to protect habitat, improve water quality, and establish recycling programs in Nebraska.

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