Wisconsin‘s annual Land and Water Conservation Report was presented to the state‚Äôs Land and Water Conservation Board at the group‚Äôs December meeting.
The report details the work done last year by state and federal agencies in partnership with local governments and landowners to keep Wisconsin‚Äôs soil in place and the water clean.
For the first time, this report includes success stories aka individual projects undertaken that not only helped protect the state‚Äôs land and water, but also fostered economic development.
These are projects funded through $26 million provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture‚Äôs Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS); $11 million from the WI Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP); and $9.1 million in grants awarded by the WI Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which also provided reimbursements worth $4.6 million.
These state and federal funds added to the funding provided to the projects locally by counties, towns and municipalities.
The Egan Dairy Farm in the Town of Lebanon, WI is one of the projects highlighted in the report. With 600 milking cows and 600 replacement heifers, the farm has a huge impact on the surrounding environment and the nearby Wolf River.
The Egan brothers have been working with the Waupaca County Land Water Conservation Department (LWCD) since the early 1990s to conserve resources and minimize their impact.
When they decided to expand, the farm was awarded a cost-sharing grant for setting up a clean water diversion, manure storage system, and a storm water sediment basin, followed by more upgrades over the years.
The Egans invested more than $1 million on the projects, with the county spending $47,000 on cost-sharing and county employees putting in hundreds of hours of service on the Egan projects. The farm added four new employees, in addition to hiring professional consultants.
The environmental stewardship protected the Wolf River, which draws a lot of tourists to Waupaca County for fishing, tubing and other recreational activities.
In the report, County conservationist Brian Haase who worked on the Egan projects says that over the years, they‚Äôve realized the impact a farm the size of the Egan Dairy Farm can have. He says that when time is invested helping dairies grow properly, there is a tremendous benefit to the local economy.
Haase says that it‚Äôs not about the cost-sharing, but more about building a relationship with the farm, which he says is the best way to make conservation happen. He adds that if they don‚Äôt trust you, nothing is going to get done.