for Watershed Protection
4, Prioritization of Concerns, resulted in a subwatershed scoring
technique which ranked each of the major drainage units and the 217 delineated
subwatersheds for their preservation and mitigation potentials. The next
step after identifying areas prioritized for various activities is to
identify the mechanisms to encourage those activities. Because the watershed
is so large, site specific information cannot be gleaned for the entire
basin. Instead, land cover data and other spatial data were relied upon
to model the watershed at its broad scale. Similarly, protection mechanisms
and identification of practices already in place are largely broad, as
the identification of specific land use planning activities and ordinances
in every municipality was not possible under the scope of this project.
Identification of those mechanisms were gleaned from stakeholder
interviews and internet research. Therefore, they are not inclusive.
Further, the identification of geographic regions to apply these measures
are also not inclusive. This chapter should be viewed as an introduction
to additional needed work in the implementation phase.
to additional information are provided on the attached
of forests and wetlands
were scored based on the percentage of wetland and forest land cover in
each. The highest average scores were identified in the northwest portions
of the watershed, which include the Paw Paw River, Dowagiac River and
Rocky River Watersheds. Beebee Creek in Hillsdale County also scored high.
However, this does not indicate that preservation is not important in
the Indiana portions of the watershed. An isolated wetland was identified
in the Turkey Creek Watershed in the southern portion of Elkhart County.
This score was lost in the major drainage unit scoring, but was identified
in the scoring of the 217 subwatersheds.
Committee identified sediments, nutrients, habitat loss, wetland loss
and animal waste as the top five watershed concerns. The preservation
of intact forest, prairie and wetland areas can prevent an increase in
the occurrence of those concerns, and other techniques discussed in this
chapter can reduce those pollutants at the source.
Township, in the Rocky
River Watershed, developed a Greenprint, which identified natural
resources, such as wetlands and priority rural views, in the township
and laid out a plan to preserve them through zoning. This includes
protection of wetlands smaller than 5 acres.
identified for preservation can be protected through a variety of
mechanisms. Private landowners can voluntarily choose to protect their
land. However, development pressures, which are moving further and
further from urban cores, are making it difficult to preserve these
can be donated to each state's Department of Natural Resources to
be incorporated into its parks systems. Each state has a trust fund
established for the purchase of such lands. The Indiana Heritage Trust
was established in 1992 to acquire land with "examples of outstanding
natural resources and habitats or have historical or archaeological
significance". Sales of special license plates (blue eagle and
sun) contribute to the fund. For example, the Fawn River Nature Preserve
in LaGrange County was acquired in 1999. It is composed of 135 acres
of upland beech and maple woods and a rare lowland oak forest. The
preserve protects riparian habitat bordering more than a mile of the
Indiana Heritage Trust link in the attached table
includes additional information about preserved lands in the watershed.)
Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, established in 1976, provides
grants to local governments and the state to purchase lands for outdoor
recreation and for preservation of open space. It is supported by
revenues from state-owned mineral interests.
Land Conservancy works to protect land in Elkhart County. The Wawasee
Lake Conservancy Foundation has acquired over 419 acres of wetlands
around the Wawasee Lake in Noble County. Townships can establish partnerships
with land trusts to provide matching funds for fee simple ownership of
lands or to purchase conservation easements or development rights.
can receive tax incentives to protect their own land through conservation
easements. A landowner may wish to sell the land to a buyer who has conservation
goals for the land. However, it is expensive and time consuming to advertise
these lands for sale through special avenues to find buyers. Similarly,
it may be difficult for buyers to find large tracts of undisturbed land.
A network of buyers and sellers interested in conservation is needed.
This network should be used to conserve agricultural lands, as well.
use planning and zoning can be used to protect natural resources within
a municipality. A natural features inventory is a good way to identify
those lands. However, many townships do not have any planning mechanisms
in place. This may occur in townships where municipal officials are
employed in a part-time capacity, as the tax base is low. For example,
Branch County has several townships, five of the sixteen, which are
not zoned. These townships are rural and not located along a major
transportation corridor. Therefore, it may be felt that development
does not threaten the current land uses. However, these areas have
many valuable natural resources. Further these townships with many
natural resources have less tax revenue available for the development
of a land use plan or natural features inventory. Townships should
pool their resources to develop plans, especially within a watershed
or where they share contiguous natural resources.
Township in Branch County is unzoned and 95% agricultural. The St.
Joseph River flows through the township and is primarily wooded along
its banks. Protection measures should be implemented to help these
buffers remain intact. Perhaps downstream property owners or municipalities
who could be adversely affected by sedimentation could purchase these
lands or easements on them to assure that the buffers remain intact.
Indiana, zoning is implemented at the county level.
law allows comprehensive planning to be conducted at the county, city,
village or township level (Sea Grant, 2002). There are regional commissions
in the watershed including the Michiana Area Council of Governments
(MACOG; St. Joseph, Elkhart, Marshall
Counties) and the Southwest Michigan
Commission. These organizations operate by county boundaries,
not watershed boundaries. MACOG deals primarily with transportation
issues. However, it has a water quality department and has been awarded
some grants to fund St. Joseph River Watershed projects in Indiana.
of areas to apply conservation measures/BMPs
Lands were identified for application of conservation measures and
BMPs based on the percentage of agricultural and urban land cover and
on the presence of identified impaired waters. This is not to imply that
agricultural land uses are not desired in the watershed, quite the contrary.
Numerous surveys have identified preservation of agricultural land uses
as a high priority. In addition to the obvious benefits of food and fiber
production, agricultural land uses provide an aesthetic characteristic
to the watershed.
visual preference survey conducted by the Michigan Farmland and Community
Alliance, Michigan State University and the Michigan Association of
Realtors (2004), identified farmland, which provides wide, open green
space, as highly desirable in Michigan. A 1998 "Examination of Challenges
and Opportunities" in Hillsdale County recommended land use planning
and a diversification of agricultural products as necessary to protect
farmland. A 2000 resident survey in the county identified the loss
of farmland as a critical problem.
is largely agricultural (70%). Agriculture occupies over 80%
of the land use (by subwatershed) in the Pigeon and Elkhart River
Watersheds (Indiana). Agricultural products include hogs, cattle, corn,
soybeans, wheat and hay. Some fruits and vegetables are grown in the western
portions of the watershed. Traditional farming methods are practiced by
Amish communities in the eastern and central portions of the watershed.
St. Joseph County (IN) agricultural land identified as prime land
may not be split into parcels smaller than 20 acres nor have less
than 600 feet of road frontage when the land use is changed from
agricultural to residential. Prime agricultural land is found in
the southern portions of the county. Similar ordinances are also
found in Calvin and Wayne Townships in Cass County (MI.)
and Ranch Land Protection Program, administered by the Indiana
Natural Resources Conservation Service provides matching funds (up
to 50% of the easement fair market value) to help eligible entities
purchase development rights to keep productive farm and ranch land
in agricultural use. The Farmland
and Open Space Preservation Program, administered by the Michigan
Department of Agriculture, has five programs to aid in preservation.
One of these programs, the Agricultural
Preservation Fund provides grants to local governments to purchase
conservation easements through Purchase of Development Rights programs.
Participating land owners commit to at least ten years.
are also programs to acknowledge farmers who employ practices to protect
water quality and conserve soil. The Indiana
River Friendly Farmer program is sponsored by the Indiana Association
of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (and other organizations).
A farmer who meets each of nine environmental criteria on his land
can be nominated for the award. Winners are recognized annually at
the Indiana State Fair.
Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program certifies farming
practices under three program areas: Livestock, Farmstead and Cropping.
Certification is available currently for the Livestock program, which
includes implementation of a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan.
RC&D Council works to protect farmland in Northeast Indiana. It holds
conservation easements on farms in Elkhart, LaGrange and Steuben Counties.
Tax Incremental Funding has been used in Elkhart County to provide a rebate
on tax increases for the purchase of development rights on agricultural
land. The use of this mechanism for agricultural protection was unique
because the funds are typically used for industry. The Land
Information Access Association (Traverse City, MI) has developed websites
for Hillsdale and Van Buren Counties and an informational CD for the Dowagiac
River Watershed Project. These resources all contain valuable information
on zoning methods to protect farmland including exclusive use zoning,
slide scale zoning, open space (cluster) zoning and the requirement of
buffers between agricultural land and residential development.
information on these and other zoning techniques can be found on the
Hillsdale County web link in the attached table.)
use ordinances including agricultural land protection measures are developed
on a township basis. Some Michigan townships have received assistance
from the Dowagiac River Watershed Project to prepare new Master Plans.
Calvin, Wayne and Marcellus Townships (Cass County) were noted as examples
of municipalities with good land use planning in the interview process.
Agricultural lands in these townships are zoned as prime or general. Prime
agricultural land sold in the townships may only have one residence constructed
on every forty acres. (Prime agriculture is defined by the USDA as land
best suited to grow food, feed, forage, fiber and oilseed crops. Prime
agriculture produces the best yields with minimal economic input and the
least environmental damage.) In contrast, general agricultural areas allow
smaller parcel divisions. Many of these forty-acre plots are being used
for small horse farms. This ordinance has prevented the development of
small residential lots in the Christiana Creek Watershed. In contrast,
Newburg Township in Cass County has no land use zoning. Agricultural lands
can also be protected with open space zoning, which uses cluster development
to concentrate homes and leave the remainder of the property undeveloped.
has a filter strip law which allows for a $1/acre assessment for property
taxes for farms having filter strips of a particular size. It appears
that this would serve as a good incentive for landowners to use this practice.
However, many still do not use them. One suggested reason is a reluctance
to use federal funding, as the use of funds may include restrictions on
property rights. It may be a good idea to incorporate a mechanism to provide
mini-grants from the Friends of the St. Joe River Association for the
installation of BMPs. Therefore, the direct connection in the funding
is from a nonprofit agency, creating a buffer and alleviating potential
concerns about infringements on private property rights through federal
Noble County Drain Surveyor distributes free seeds for replanting
buffer strips on agricultural lands following work on drains that
disrupt the buffer. According to the Soil and Water Conservation District,
the program is quite popular within the county and helps to reduce
sediment and nutrient loading to the watershed.
Lake communities located in rural areas face unique issues. They are typically
in areas of lands valued for preservation (agricultural, forest, wetland)
and are usually not connected to a regional sewer system. The remote beauty
of the lakes draws residents and summer visitors. Waterfront properties
get disproportionate development compared to upland areas. However, the
concentration of septic systems around the lakes can take a toll on surface
water quality. The need for regional treatment systems or connections
to a sanitary sewer system has been identified in many areas of the watershed.
example, LaGrange County has several lakes and a large influx of visitors
each summer. Some lake communities, such as Fish Lake and Stone Lakes
in LaGrange County, Klinger Lake in St. Joseph County and part of
Palmer Lake near Colon have been sewered recently. A comparison of
aerial photographs of Klinger Lake illustrates the reduction in algal
blooms following sewering, and improvements have been observed in
Fish and Stone Lakes.
Cass County, sewers have been installed around Donnell Lake, the
subject of a past Section 319 grant. This has reduced nitrate levels
in the groundwater in that area. Sewers have also been constructed
around Indian Lake, Barren Lake, Diamond Lake, Eagle Lake, Lake
Garver, Paridixie Lake, the Sisters Lakes and in the Village of
Vandalia. The Diamond Lake Association monitors coliform levels
and has not found high levels since the construction of the sewer.
Sewer construction is also planned or occurring around Baldwind-Long-Coverdale
Lakes, Shavehead Lake, Birch Lake and Juno-Painter-Christiana Lakes.
groups around Fisher Lake near Three Rivers are interested in sewer
installation and have approached the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph District
Health Agency to request an assessment of the lake. The cost of connection
to the sewer system is a major drawback to resident buy-in at many
lakes. When sewer connection is not plausible, septic pretreatment
has been suggested. A sewer use assessment was recommended to fund
maintenance of pretreatment equipment for lake residents.
to protect lake resources can include a restriction on the installation
of septic systems in new developments, which should only be constructed
where they have access to the sanitary sewer. The
Kalamazoo Metropolitan County Planning Commission recommends this
in its policy statements. When a property with a septic system is sold,
an inspection should be required. Further, information on proper septic
system maintenance should be provided to the new property owner. The Michiana
Council of Governments has produced a free educational video titled "Septic
Systems 1-2-3". It has been distributed to title companies within the
jurisdiction. Wider distribution of this video throughout the watershed
to Realtors and title companies should be sought.
Indiana Office of the Commissioner of Agriculture
Land Resource Council identified rural wastewater management as
a priority for 2003 and hence established a Rural
Wastewater Task Force. The task force met nine times in 2003 to
recommend eight activities for facilitating proper wastewater treatment
in rural areas. Recommendations included a tracking system to document
system failures and a training and certification program for inspectors
and regulators. The Elkhart County Commissioners received a Section
319 grant to identify problematic septic systems in the county. That
project led to the development of a Watershed Management Plan for
the Lower Yellow Creek Watershed.
allow Clean Water Fund Revolving Loans to be used for nonpoint source
pollution reduction projects, including maintenance of septic systems.
Funds are traditionally used for upgrades and construction of wastewater
treatment plants. This could include the construction of new plants for
lake communities. Indiana funds may be used for wetland protection, erosion
control, stormwater Best Management Practices and conservation easements.
Michigan Revolving Fund monies may only be used for publicly owned facilities,
which may include stormwater facilities. The state has created a Strategic
Water Quality Initiatives Fund which can be use for the upgrade or
replacement of failing on-site systems, or the removal of stormwater or
groundwater from sewer leads.
to "Funding Opportunities: A Directory of Energy Efficient, Renewable
Energy, and Environmental Protection Assistance Programs" published by
the U.S. EPA State and Local Capacity Building Branch (2004), Drinking
Water State Revolving Funds can be used in some instances to support green
infrastructure activities such as permeable pavement, rooftop gardens
and other measures that help reduce the urban heat island effect and save
energy. Grants are awarded to states to provide low-cost loans to public
water systems to finance the costs of infrastructure projects. States
are also authorized to use a portion of their funds for set-aside activities
such as source water protection.
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