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What We Do Home>Environmental Planning>Watersheds, Water Quality & Wetlands>Feature Project: St. Joseph River Watershed Conservation Partnership

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Michigan/Indiana St. Joseph River Watershed Conservation Partnership



The St. Joseph River Watershed Conservation Partnership is a bi-state project to improve and protect the streams, rivers, lakes and groundwater in the St. Joseph River Watershed. The project aims to reduce sediment and nutrient loading, optimize groundwater use and enhance fish and wildlife habitat. Project partners have selected Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation practices that farmers can receive financial assistance to implement. These practices improve soil health and water quality and enhance fish and wildlife habitat.


$6.8 million in Farm Bill funds were dedicated to this project to provide technical assistance to landowners and to implement practices and wetland restorations through the Wetland Reserve Easement program (WRE).


Eligible Applicants:  Agricultural producers who are in the St. Joseph River Watershed seen in the light blue map below:


The first step will be to get you started with meeting program eligibility through the Farm Service Agency. 
NRCS will assist with the development of a farm conservation plan and then apply for desired practices through EQIP or WRE.



The St. Joseph River Watershed Conservation Partnership will help to:


- Reduce sediment and nutrient loading

- Optimize groundwater use

- Enhance fish and wildlife habitat


Expected Outcomes:

Clean and Abundant Water

 - Reduced sediment and nutrients

Better Habitat

- Restored wetlands

- Improved fisheries

- Increased pheasant/turkey/waterfowl populations

Profitable and Productive Farms


Interested or Have Questions?  Please visit or call your County Conservation District.

Berrien County - Berrien Springs, Phone (269) 471-9111 ext. 3
Branch County - Coldwater, Phone (517) 278-2725 ext. 3
Cass County - Cassopolis, Phone (269) 445-8643 ext. 3

Calhoun County – Marshall, Phone (269) 781-4867 ext. 3

Hillsdale County - Jonesville, Phone (517) 849-9890 ext. 3
Kalamazoo County - Portage, Phone (269) 382-5121 ext. 3
St. Joseph County - Centreville, Phone (269) 467-6336 ext. 3
Van Buren County - Paw Paw, Phone (269)657-4220 ext. 3


Eligible Practices:

Wetland Reserve EasementsThrough the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, landowners receive assistance to restore wetlands that were converted to agricultural use. The USDA purchases a permanent or a 30-year easement on the land to ensure that the restored wetland is preserved.

Conservation Activity Plans:

Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan:  Develop a livestock waste management plan.

Conservation Plan Supporting Organic TransitionDevelop a transition plan from a conventional farming or ranching system to an organic production system.

Drainage Water Management PlanDevelop a plan to control soil water table elevations and discharges from subsurface agriculture drainage systems.

Fish and Wildlife Habitat Management PlanDevelop a site specific plan for fish and wildlife habitat.

Integrated Pest Management PlanDevelop an ecosystem-based plan to manage pests using a combination of techniques.

Irrigation Water Management PlanDevelop a plan to control the volume, frequency, and rate of water for efficient irrigation.

Nutrient Management PlanDevelop a nutrient management plan for fertilizers.

Priority Core Practices:

Access ControlInstall a temporary or permanent barrier to exclude animals, humans, vehicles, and/or equipment from an area.

Amending Soil Properties with GypsumImprove soil physical/chemical properties to reduce soil erosion and improve infiltration.

Conservation CoverPlant species to reduce erosion and protect water quality.

Cover CropPlant 1-3 species for soil health and water quality management.

Critical Area PlantingPlant permanent vegetation on highly disturbed sites with high erosion rates.

Drainage Water ManagementInstall a drainage water control structure, and manage it for water quality.

Field BorderPlant a strip of permanent vegetation at the field edge or around field perimeter.

Filter StripPlant species that increase water infiltration and protect water quality.

Grassed WaterwayProvide means for slowing water flow and increasing infiltration.

Irrigation System, SprinklerInstall the necessary equipment and facilities for efficient water application.

Irrigation Water ManagementImplement irrigation management to optimize for the most efficient use of water.

Nutrient ManagementImplement Nutrient Management Plans for nutrients and sediment.

Open Channel:  Construct, improve, or restore an open channel to convey water.

Prescribed GrazingManage the harvest of vegetation with grazing and/or browsing animals.

Residue and Tillage Management – No-TillImplement modified tillage and residue management to increase water infiltration.

Residue and Tillage Management – Reduced TillImplement reduced tillage methods and manage plant residue distribution on the soil surface year round.

Restoration and Management of Rare and Declining HabitatsRestore habitat for rare and declining wildlife species.

Riparian Forest BufferPlant tree and/or shrubs adjacent to a watercourse or water bodies.

Riparian Herbaceous CoverPlant grass or forbs tolerant of intermittent flooding or saturated soils for terrestrial or aquatic habitat.

Stream CrossingConstruct a travel way for people, livestock, equipment, or vehicles across a stream.

Stream Habitat Improvement and ManagementTo maintain, improve, or restore the functions of a stream.

Streambank and Shoreline ProtectionInstall treatments to stabilize/protect stream banks, construct channels, and shoreline of lake, reservoirs, or estuaries.

Supporting Practices:

Channel Bed StabilizationStabilize the channel bed or bottom.

FenceConstruct a barrier for animals or humans.

Forage and Biomass PlantingPlant a grass species suitable for pasture, hay, or biomass production.

Heavy Use Area ProtectionStabilize a ground surface frequently and intensively used by people, animals or vehicles.

Livestock PipelineInstall a pipeline to move water for livestock.

Spoil SpreadingDispose of surplus excavated materials.

Trails and WalkwaysConstruct a walkway used by animals, people, or off-road vehicles.

Subsurface DrainInstall tile beneath the ground surface to collect and/or remove excess water.

Watering FacilityInstall a permanent or portable device to provide drinking water for livestock.



Additional Information for Potential Program Participants:

Information for Program Partners:
This page last updated on 5/30/2017.
Southwest Michigan Planning Commission  
376 West Main Street  Suite 130  Benton Harbor, MI 49022-3651
Phone: 269.925.1137  Fax: 269.925.0288  

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