Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Local News

April 2, 2010

I-Jobs awards nearly $750,000 to protect Rathbun Lake

CENTERVILLE — Two grants totaling $742,748 were awarded to the Appanoose and Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation Districts by Iowa’s Infrastructure Investment Initiative — better known as I-Jobs.

Margaret Cope, Appanoose and Monroe County district conservationist, says the funds are administered by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Department of Soil Conservation and will be used to protect Rathbun Lake through the construction of best management practices in four of the six counties located in the Rathbun Lake Watershed.

“The first grant award of $368,823 will focus on work to be completed in the Chariton River No. 12 sub-watershed, which is located in Appanoose County. The second grant award of $373,925 will focus on the Chariton River No. 11 sub-watershed, which includes Monroe County and portions of Appanoose, Lucas and Wayne counties,” says Cope.

Since the Rathbun Lake Watershed covers 354,000 acres and includes six southern Iowa counties, it was divided a few years ago into more manageable sections resulting in 61 sub-watersheds.

“The two sub-watersheds targeted with the I-Jobs funding add to the work already being conducted by the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance to protect Rathbun Lake water quality,” explains Cope.

In each of the 61 sub-watersheds, land is further identified as priority land, which is land most likely to deliver sediment and contaminants to the lake. Landowners who own or operate these identified acres will be given top priority with the funding.

Of the 31,083 acres in the two sub-watersheds, 1,816 acres are priority land. Projected sediment delivery reduction is 3,963 tons per year and projected phosphorus delivery reduction is 12,712 pounds per year.

Gene Pace, of Exline,  was hired as a watershed coordinator to identify priority acres in the two sub-watersheds, contact landowners and oversee construction of the BMPs.

Pace has lived in southern Iowa since 1975 and says he looks forward to working with Rathbun Lake Watershed landowners.

“I really enjoy the ag community and working with and meeting new people,” Pace says.

Cope adds, “Gene had been working as a buffer technician in Appanoose County, which was a good stepping stone to this project.”

Cope says that the district is on a tight deadline and must have the grant funds obligated by the end of this calendar year — which means landowner applications need filled out and approved by the district before Dec. 31.

The I-Jobs funds are for the construction of new conservation practices, which includes 93,000 feet of terraces, three large debris basins, 16 grade stabilization structures and 70 water and sediment basins installed on smaller drainage areas of 30 acres or less and 40 acres of pasture and hayland planting.

Pace says he is currently in the process of notifying landowners of their eligibility by mail.

“I encourage landowners who receive an eligibility notification by mail to contact the Appanoose County Natural Resources Conservation Service Office to discuss their interest,” says Pace.

“The practices are eligible for up to 75 percent cost-share. Landowners can use the low interest loan program to cover 100 percent of the remaining 25 percent,” adds Pace.

Landowners are encouraged to contact the Appanoose County NRCS office at (641) 856-3893, ext. 3.

Rathbun Land and Water Alliance members and partners include the following individuals, agencies and organizations:  Landowners in the Rathbun Lake Watershed; Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Division of Soil Conservation; Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Iowa State University; Iowa Watershed Improvement Review Board; Southern Iowa Development and Conservation Authority; US Army Corps of Engineers; US Environmental Protection Agency; USDA Farm Service Agency; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Appanoose, Clarke, Decatur, Lucas, Monroe and Wayne Soil and Water Conservation Districts; Appanoose, Clarke, Decatur, Lucas, Monroe and Wayne counties; Iowa Farm Bureau at the state and county levels; and Rathbun Regional Water Association.

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