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The Indiana State Department of Agriculture and the State Soil Conservation Board awarded $2,313,287 in matching grant funds to 26 projects within soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) and soil health organizations through the Clean Water Indiana program.

The Clean Water Indiana program is administered by the state’s soil conservation board. The program, led by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), provides financial assistance to landowners and conservation groups that are working to reduce runoff from non-point sources of water pollution, whether it’s on agricultural land, urban areas, or eroding streambanks.

Once received, districts can use the funds to partner with other counties or address specific needs within their jurisdiction. Some examples include participating in a cost-share program, hiring staff, providing technical assistance, implementing cover crop incentive programs, or increasing watershed capacity.

Clean Water Indiana (CWI) is managed by ISDA’s Division of Soil Conservation and funded by a portion of the state’s cigarette tax. Projects can be up to three years in length and grantees could apply for any dollar amount that was necessary to complete the project. Funded projects ranged from $10,000 to $300,000. In addition to CWI funds, each grantee is required to produce a match for their project, which can be cash or in-kind. Projects requesting staffing were required to have a 25% match for that component, while all other project areas required a 50% match. Many SWCDs will target producers not currently served by other conservation programs.

Below is the list of the local awardees, their project titles, and overviews.

Daviess County SWCD – $76,957

Education Coordinator Position – The Daviess County SWCD has had a part-time Education Coordinator for over 25 years. This position has done many things including a 4th grade Farm Fair, education outreach in schools and actively participating with the Washington Stormwater Department’s MS4 outreach and rain garden. As agriculture production continues to provide many daily necessities for ther ever-growing population, there is an increased need to educate the public on the importance of conserving valuable natural resources. The primary goal of the position will be to increase public awareness and impact a larger area of the county through a variety of education programs.

Gibson and Pike County SWCDs – $72,000

Gibson County CWI Invasive Technician – The district plans to hire an experienced Invasive Species Technician to address, support, and improve non-native invasive education and eradication in Gibson County. The technician’s main duty will be re-organizing and running the Pike and Gibson CISMA (Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area). In addition, the invasive species technician will inventory invasive species hotspots in the CISMA as well as assist with field days, workshops, and demonstrations promoting soil health and water quality.

Martin, Daviess and Orange County SWCDs – $135,282

Tri-County Invasive Species Specialist – This project will increase invasive species education, outreach, and assistance for landowners in three southern Indiana counties, and build district capacity for the Martin County SWCD. The Martin SWCD will use project funds to hire a full-time Invasive Species Specialist to cover Martin, Daviess, and Orange counties. 

The specialist’s duties will include, working closely with landowners to control invasive species on private lands. Including providing technical assistance, site visits, written invasive management plans, and referrals to partner agencies as needed.

Pike County SWCD – $159,000

Soil Technician and Cover Crop Project – This will be a three-year program to employ a full-time, experienced Soil Conservation Technician, to address, support, and improve conservation in Pike County and address soil health and water quality through a cover crop cost-share program.

The technician’s main duty will be assisting SWCD staff with advertising the cost-share program, meeting with producers, and assisting them on technical aspects of cover crops, and field check tracts enrolled in the cost-share program. In addition, the technician will also help with the district’s conservation programs, re-enroll field checks, working closely with the District Conservationist to ensure participants are complying with signed contracts. 

Spencer County SWCD – $10,000

Spencer County Ground Cover Incentive Program – The SWCD desires to promote the further use of cover crops throughout the county and reduce the continued degradation of soil health by offering a cover crop cost-share program. Cover crops are the single most cost-effective best management practices the district can promote that reduce sediment runoff, reduce loss of nutrients, protect the water quality of the district and downstream communities, reduce the growth of weeds in fields, and increase field productivity and yields.

The district will target highly erodible land (HEL) first with this program, preventing further erosion on already sensitive soils and slopes. More than 60% of the district soils can be classified as HEL.

Warrick County SWCD – $24,432

No-till drill purchase to facilitate conservation – The Warrick County SWCD will purchase a no-till drill, overall width 9’, planting width 8’, to include both a standard grain (jumbo grain & small seed) box and a standard grass (fluffy box & small seed) box. The SWCD will also purchase a cultipacker for use with smaller ATVs.

The SWCD sees a large window of opportunity to assist producers and operators with conservation practices by making this new drill available, thus furthering its business plan goal to increase acres of native grass and forbs plantings. It also furthers the State Soil Conservation Board’s business plan goals tying to resource concerns of water quality improvement and soil health and degradation. The purchase of a cultipacker will benefit pollinator plots that are broadcast-planted on a more urban scale. This will ultimately help improve sediment and nutrient reduction on both urban and agricultural lands.

To see the full list and details on the grantees and awards, visit in.gov/isda/divisions/soil-conservation/clean-water-indiana/

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