Riparian Buffer Field Day to be held near Hanlontown
Riparian buffers = Improved Water Quality for Iowa and Increased Profits for Landowners
Hanlontown, IA (April 24, 2014) - North-central Iowa residents have the opportunity to learn more about how they can profit from installing practices on their land to protect and improve water quality. These practices are the focus of a tree-planting demonstration and field day planned for Tuesday, May 6, on the Jamie and Angie Sorenson Farm, 3656 Wheelerwood Road, northeast of Hanlontown. The field day is scheduled for 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM and topics include site preparation, selecting appropriate tree stock, planting, maintenance, cost share and the benefits of riparian buffer projects. The event is free and open to the public and will include staff from the Iowa DNR Forestry Bureau, Trees Forever, Pheasants Forever, and the Worth County Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The Sorenson Farm planting is an example of conservation practices that landowners can install through the Conservation Reserve Programs (CRP). These programs target one of our most valuable resources - water. With the help of a federal grant, local agencies have been given the opportunity to further promote CRP in a targeted watershed, the Upper Cedar River, where water quality and flooding have become a major concern in recent years. Riparian buffers are a fancy name for trees planted along a stream. In most areas of Iowa, the natural buffers of grasses and trees that would filter the water have been removed to create more cropland. Farming next to the stream results in a direct route for soil, nutrients, and herbicides to reach the stream. Water sources in the ground can be destroyed in a very short time, but may take hundreds or thousands of years to restore. Riparian buffers put the natural vegetation back in place to filter out the soil, nutrients, and herbicides. Planting trees also improves wildlife cover and the natural beauty of Iowa, and can qualify you for property tax exemptions after your CRP contract expires.
The state of Iowa is the big winner in this program, but landowners can also increase income from their land by planting riparian buffers. The Riparian Buffer Program, or CP22 Practice, is a continuous signup program to establish cover on some of our most fragile areas. You can walk into the NRCS and FSA offices anytime and apply, and the NRCS office will determine what land is eligible. If you have pasture land or crop land that has a creek running through it, you will likely have land that qualifies.
The CP22 practice involves planting trees on an area 180 ft. wide on both sides of the stream. The program will pay 50% of the costs of planting trees, and if funding is available you are eligible for an additional 40% cost sharing, bringing the total to 90%. The average cost of tree planting is $600 per acre. You will be required to maintain the trees, which involves spraying herbicides for weed control and mowing, until the trees are established. As with most CRP practices, the Riparian Buffer program pays an annual rental payment to the landowner. Today's rental rates average $80/acre on marginal pastureland, which is quite comparable to the average cattle grazing lease. Cropland rental rates can often times be much higher.
If you have already sold the livestock, are thinking about selling the livestock, or are tired of fixing fence every time it rains, you should check into this program. Your pasture land may be more valuable than you think, and you will be helping to improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and the quality of Iowa for everyone.
Anyone interested in learning more about riparian buffers and how to implement this or another conservation practice is invited to attend the field day. It is being coordinated by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Forestry Bureau and Trees Forever, working in partnership with the Sorensons. Questions can be directed to DNR Forester Greg Heidebrink, 641-228-6611, or Trees Forever Representative Jeff Jensen, 515-320-6756.
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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.