DES MOINES - Landowners in parts of Rathbun Lake watershed who enroll in the general Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) are eligible for an additional one-time payment of $100 to $150 per acre.
"This is a way for landowners in parts of Lucas, Wayne, Appanoose and Monroe counties to improve water quality, reducing sediment and nutrient delivery to one of our most significant public resources," said Mike McGhee who coordinates the DNR's Iowa lake restoration program.
The general CRP sign up runs from March 14 through April 15. McGhee urges landowners interested in the financial incentive to apply at their local USDA Farm Service Agency offices.
Private landowners in select sections of the lake's watershed will be offered a one-time incentive payment of $100 per acre for a 10-year CRP contract or $150 per acre incentive payment for a 15-year CRP contract. The landowner must agree to plant native grasses and forbs.
The Iowa Lake Restoration fund has allocated $75,000 which will provide the additional incentive payments on about 600 acres. Incentive payments are available on a first-come first-served basis.
The watershed and 11,000-acre Rathbun Lake are home to the state's largest rural drinking water supply, largest fish hatchery and Honey Creek Resort State Park.
Sediment and nutrients from soil erosion can cause increased cloudiness in the water, algal blooms and resulting sags in oxygen. Establishing native grasses improves water quality and can increase upland bird populations under favorable weather. Current land use is predominantly annual row crop production and habitat fragmentation is prevalent.
For more information regarding the incentive, contact Helga Offenburger, DNR wildlife biologist, at (641) 203-0452.
Fields with more than 50 percent highly erodible land (HEL) soils will be offered the incentive on the entire CRP offer. Fields with less than 50 percent HEL soils will be offered the incentives only on the erosive soils.
For more information on the general Conservation Reserve Program sign up, go to www.iowadnr.gov/crp.html.