Trees Forever and DNR meetings highlight Upper Cedar River Watershed
Outreach Project continues effort to promote improvements
OSAGE (March 3, 2014) - Issues in the Upper Cedar River Watershed, such as catastrophic flooding, impaired water quality and loss of wildlife habitat, have improved in recent years through the strategic planting of trees, shrubs and native grasses.
Those gains, however, could be wiped away if high-risk acres in the Conservation Reserve Program are converted back to row crops in the coming years. The Upper Cedar Watershed Outreach Project, a three-year program funded by the USDA Forest Service, was initiated last fall to address these issues.
As part of the project, Trees Forever and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Forestry Bureau will host a series of public meetings and field days to discuss the importance of trees and riparian buffers. Riparian buffers, which are rows of trees, shrubs, and/or native grasses planted along waterways, decrease soil erosion, prevent sediment and pollutants from entering streams, and lessen stream bank erosion. These plantings also provide habitat for many wildlife and pollinator species.
An upcoming Upper Cedar Watershed Outreach Project informational meeting is set for:
* Tuesday, March 18, at the Mitchell County Conservation Nature Center, 18793 Highway 9, Osage, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
All area farmers and landowners are encouraged to attend this free meeting. Staff from Iowa DNR Forestry and Trees Forever will be on hand to discuss the program and a variety of conservation projects, and to answer related questions. Similar meetings were held in Waverly in January and Charles City in February with good discussion between landowners and conservation professionals.
According to the DNR Forestry Bureau, 8,382 acres of CP22 forested riparian buffers were planted in the last 15 years through the Conservation Reserve Program in the Upper Cedar River Watershed and Howard County. In the next three years, 471 individual forested riparian buffer contracts (or 59 percent) - representing 4,904 acres in the project area - will expire if they are not re-enrolled. These acres are at very high risk of removal and conversion back to row crop production due to high corn and soybean prices and agricultural land rental rates.
During the next three years, public meetings, field days and direct mailings will be scheduled to help landowners learn more about riparian buffers. In addition, Iowa DNR District Foresters will provide one-on-one technical assistance on private lands to promote riparian buffers, upland tree plantings, forest management and forestry best management practices for water quality. All of these activities have a goal of continuing the water quality benefits provided by current riparian buffer plantings and proper forest management.
For more information about the meetings or the Upper Cedar Outreach Project, contact DNR District Foresters Jason Walker or Greg Heidebrink at (641) 228-6611 or Trees Forever's Meredith Borchardt at (641) 430-3854.
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Trees Forever is a nonprofit organization based in Marion, IA committed to planting trees, encouraging community involvement and stewardship, and caring for the environment. Programs focus on improving air and water quality, increasing wildlife habitat, providing substantial energy savings and beautifying our landscape. For more information visit www.treesforever.org or call 800-369-1269.