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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

Indiana: Section 319 Success Stories, Vol. III

Begin Page LinksStory 1  |  Story 2  |  State Water Quality Site [BROKEN] Exit EPA Disclaimer End Page Links Story Separation Bar Blue River Riparian Reforestation:
The Nature Conservancy Gets Landowners Involved

Amy Reeves
100 North Senate Avenue
P.O. Box 6015
Indianapolis, IN 46206
alreeves@ dem.state.in.us
Primary Sources of Pollution:

deforestation for row crops

livestock access
Primary NPS Pollutants:



high water temperature
Project Activities:

riparian reforestation

planted nearly 300 acres of riparian buffer

The Blue River originates in Washington County, Indiana, and flows south to form the natural boundary between Crawford County, Indiana, and Harrison County, Indiana, continuing south to the Ohio River. The Blue River has been designated a State Natural and Scenic River and is a favorite recreation site in Indiana. The river is home to many globally rare fish and mussels. The southern fork of the Blue River flows through the Harrison Crawford State Forest, and the river also flows near Wyandotte Caves. Much of the northern part of the river was located in a primarily agricultural area, which was cleared of riparian forest to make way for row crops and livestock access. The problems that resulted include reduced bank stabilization and lack of filtration of nutrients. The lack of shading and higher turbidity have also caused the temperature of the water to rise.

Role of The Nature Conservancy

In 1997 the state of Indiana provided $34,865 of section 319 dollars to The Nature Conservancy to replant the riparian forest and to educate the community on its purpose, progress, and results. The Nature Conservancy brought a large group together for the project, including landowners, Friends of the Blue River, Harrison County Cattlemen's Association, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, Washington County Farm Bureau, Indiana University Southeast, University of Louisville, and Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry. This group began in 1994 to coordinate a comprehensive river conservation approach.

The Nature Conservancy placed the project in the hands of a coordinator, Allen Pursell, with the goals of aiding landowners in riparian reforestation, teaching reforestation best management practices, and publicizing its work. The group advertised its intent to aid landowners in reforesting portions of their land through local papers, a field day, and one-on-one contact with landowners. Personal contact proved to be the most successful method, and seven landowners agreed to implement riparian reforestation.

By the end of the contract, The Nature Conservancy, with the help of the seven landowners and a professional forester, had planted 72.1 acres along the corridor of the Blue River with 56,000 trees. These acres translated to 3.1 miles of corridor reforestation. Tree species planted included bur oak, shumar oak, black walnut, yellow-poplar, swamp white oak, white ash, and black cherry. The landowners agreed at the start of the contract to enroll each area as a Classified Forest if it qualified for the program; of the seven, five have qualified.

Sharing lessons learned

During the course of this first grant, The Nature Conservancy learned the best ways to involve landowners, to plant trees at a high density for best results, and the importance of keeping weeds out of seedling areas. They have shared this knowledge with many other groups with interest in riparian reforestation. They also shared their lessons learned by sponsoring a field day on tree planting for government and private sector conservation practitioners. All attendees planned to begin a riparian tree planting program in their areas.

Indiana has given The Nature Conservancy a second 319 grant for Blue River riparian reforestation. Under this new grant, which started in August 1999, The Nature Conservancy has signed on 13 landowners. They have also planted 103 acres of riparian buffers, representing 4.3 miles of riparian zone. All planted lands have completed or are going through the process of enrollment in the Classified Forest or Classified Riparian Land program, which allows landowners tax breaks and periodic free inspections by a professional forester on at least 10 acres of private land that has been left or restored to forest. In Washington County, 4,000 feet of fencing was placed on a dairy farm to exclude the livestock from the Blue River. The riparian area just outside the fence was planted with native hardwoods and is going through the classification process. To date, a total of almost 300 acres of land has been planted.

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Little Pine Creek and Indian Watersheds:
Constructed Wetland System Averts Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution

Jody Arthur
Indiana Department of Environmental Management
100 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46206-6015
jarthur@ dem.state.in.us
Primary Sources of Pollution:

agriculture (spray irrigation of lagoon water, agricultural cultivation, chemical application to crop field, storm events)
Primary NPS Pollutants:



total suspended solids
Project Activities:

constructed wetland system

reduction of more than 60 ppm in nitrate concentrations

improved wildlife habitat

Throughout the Indian and Little Pine Creek watersheds, the concentrations of nitrates, phosphorus, and total suspended solids in the stream water are among the highest in the nation. The largest inputs of chemicals to streams occur from March through June, corresponding to spray irrigation of lagoon water, agricultural cultivation, chemical application to crop fields, and storm events. Because these pollutants reach agricultural ditches via overland flow and tile drain systems, best management practices that can reduce pollutant levels without significantly interrupting drainage of cropland or converting cropland to other uses are needed.

Filtering pollutants

In 1999 the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University used 319 funding provided by Indiana to construct an experimental wetland system to remove nonpoint source pollutants from agricultural ditches before the pollutants reached the more natural parts of Little Pine Creek and the Wabash River. Agricultural ditch water is pumped through a series of wetlands to filter out the pollutants and is then returned to the ditch.

Monitoring results

Although the effectiveness of this wetland system in reducing nonpoint source pollution is still being assessed, follow-up monitoring results are variable but promising. Preliminary results show a reduction of more than 60 parts per million in nitrate concentration in the water treated by the system after an intense rain event. The reduction in nitrate concentration varies depending on spray irrigation timing and rainfall. Monitoring the success of this project in terms of the nonpoint source pollution mitigation continues. Various wildlife species, including reptiles and amphibians, birds, and mammals, have colonized the wetlands, showing their value as habitat.

This project has been successful in another important way—increasing the awareness of the public and the next generation of environmental stewards about nonpoint source pollution. Since its inception, the project has provided many opportunities for individuals and classes to get involved in designing and constructing the wetlands and evaluating their effects on water quality, habitat, and wildlife.

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