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Great Lakes Article:

County seeks farm-sediment control funds

By Nathan Phelps
Green Bay Gazette
December 19, 2001

Brown County is trying to stem the flow of sediment off farm fields through participation in a new federal conservation program.

The county hopes to get between $600,000 and $1 million for landowners who enroll in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture program is aimed at improving water quality by implementing conservation practices like buffer strips and grassed waterways.

Bill Hafs, county conservationist with the Brown County Land Conservation Department, said intensive farming and the urban complexion of Brown County make it the second largest contributor of sediment to Lake Michigan in Wisconsin and Michigan.

“We get our drinking water from Lake Michigan, and there’s a lot of things attached to that sediment … there’s pesticides, herbicides, phosphorous,” he said.

The Brown County Board is scheduled to take up the program Wednesday at it monthly meeting.

Under the plan, farmers would be paid for environmentally sensitive land enrolled in the program in exchange for the implementation of conservation measures intended to curb the amount of runoff. Wildlife, recreation and drinking water are areas impacted by the runoff.

Landowners who sign up for the program must meet certain eligibility guidelines.

Don Jossart, a town of Humboldt farmer, said he is interested in the project and has talked to members of the conservation department about it.

“My priority is keeping this land, I’ve got highly erodible soil right here,” he said. “I’m very interested in doing the best job I can do.”

The state, which received $198 million from U.S.D.A. for the program, has put about $45,000 toward these conservation efforts, which also are intended to help wetland restoration.

The program is not expected to cost the county any additional tax dollars, Hafs said.

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