Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance’s agricultural land conservation activities include everything from supporting the implementation of traditional on-farm best management practices, to developing and utilizing the latest technology that can assist with targeting and improving the efficiency of investments. For example, funding has been secured to increase the number of land conservation staff working with farmers in three of the highest loading sub-watersheds. Practices being installed by project partners Outagamie County, Brown County and Calumet County Land Conservation Departments include streambank restoration, a pay-for-performance cover crop management system (cover crop and reduced till/no till practices), and buffer strips. They are also developing a GIS-based conservation tracking tool that will be a low-cost tool for county land conservation departments and other partners to track needed conservation practices as well as installed/funded practices. The goal of the tool is to increase the efficiency of developing future grant/project proposals as well as associated reporting, certification and verification activities.
Recognizing the need for innovative equipment and acknowledging that the costs can be a barrier to adopting new conservation practices, Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance secured funding to bring equipment into the watershed for producers to share. In addition, Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance allocates some of its Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding to supporting water quality monitoring throughout the watershed. Monitoring is conducted through University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and USGS, which are studying the impact of specific conservation practices as well as looking at in-stream monitoring to assess the impact of focused conservation actions. Each of these projects have outreach and education components including a semiannual farmer newsletter which showcases farmers' conservation journeys and provides updates from demonstration farms.
These activities drive local progress for the Source Water Initiative’s first goal of protecting sources of drinking water from nutrient impacts.