Investing in the Big Pine Creek Watershed

Project coordinator answers questions

FOWLER, Ind. — The Big Pine Creek Watershed program is helping farmers and landowners implement conservation practices.

Leslie Fisher, project coordinator, shared details during a webinar hosted by Purdue Women in Agriculture.

What is a watershed?

“A watershed is an area that drains into a common stream, lake or river. Watershed health is improved through best management practices.”

Why are watersheds important?

“Watershed health is important for drinking water supply, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and community development.”

What is the Big Pine Creek Watershed?

“The Big Pine Creek Watershed is a four-county area in Benton, Tippecanoe, Warren and White counties. It is a little over 209,000 acres. It’s ultimately draining into the Wabash River.”

Why does it matter?

“The reason this watershed is important is the Wabash River Watershed is approximately 1% of the land area of the Mississippi River Basin. However, different models and estimates show that about 11% of the nutrients contributing to Gulf hypoxia come from the Wabash. For it being a small drainage area, it has a huge contribution. That flags it as an area that could use improvement.”

What is hypoxia?

“Hypoxia is an environmental phenomenon where the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the water column decreases to a level that can no longer support organisms.”

How does the project work?

“In order to improve water quality, we basically work with farmers and landowners to establish best management practices. These are things applied voluntarily to the landscape. In turn, it effects nutrient flow and improves water quality. We receive the funds, and farmers and landowners apply to us to use those funds to help offset implementing conservation practices.”

What are some of the best management practices?

“Practices include cover crops, reduced tillage, grassed waterways, filter strips, nutrient management plans and drainage water management structures. Those conservation practices effect water quality, but a lot of times they improve soil health on the farmer’s property.”

How much has been invested in the project?

“The initial investment in the Big Pine Creek Watershed Project was $130,000. Now it’s up to $6 million.”

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Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor