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County conservation plan moving towards approval
THIS SIGN marks the site of the former CCC Camp located north along Highway 131 near Gays Mills. Men housed at the camp did conservation work during the depression as one part of what was known as the New Deal.

At the August 2 meeting of the Land and Water Conservation Association board (LWCA) to be held in Madison, Crawford County’s proposed Land and Water Resource Management Plan 2016-2025 will be considered for approval.

When, and if, the plan is approved by the LWCA, the Crawford County Board of Supervisors will take up the plan for review and approval.

When asked what was new in the 2016 plan, David Troester, Crawford County Conservationist, responded “The goals in this plan are pretty similar to ones in previous plans, with a continuing focus on working with farmers and farmland preservation.”

“A lot of the updates have to do with new requirements for accountability from the State Department of Agriculture,” said Troester. “They are requiring all 72 of the state’s counties to submit their work plans in an identical format.”

Troester shared that the 2016 plan contains language about climate change and the impacts that can be expected to the county’s land and water resources.

The language regarding climate change was inserted into the document as an outcome of the May 2016 public hearing, from citizen input.

 “When I looked at the plan, it seemed glaringly obvious to me that the absence of language about climate change was a significant omission in the document,” said Jahnke. “In a climate where we will increasingly see intense storms and catastrophic rainfall events, and more droughts, there can’t fail to be impacts on the county’s land and water management,” said Forest Jahnke of the Crawford Stewardship Project.

The board did some research after the public hearing to see what language other counties were including in their plans about climate change.

“There aren’t very many counties that have climate change language in their plans,” said Jahnke. “Lafayette County has language, and Dane County has formed a separate commission, which is researching impacts of climate change on land and water resource management planning. Crawford County’s plan used the language from the Lafayette County plan almost verbatim, with some very slight tweaks borrowed from the work of the group in Dane County.”

“We continue to be very excited about the growth in our program which encourages landowners to use cover crops,” said Troester. “Cover crops are great for keeping nutrients in the soil available to crops, controlling erosion, and producing healthier crops.”

Troester shared some statistics about the growth in the cover crop plan, and in particular, about their aerial seeding program.

“This is the third year we’ve offered the aerial seeding program to county farmers,” said Troester. “The program is enabled through cost-share funding from NRCS. We put together a pool of farmers in order to create enough area to entice the companies that provide the service.”

In year one of the program, the county had 1,700 acres enrolled, last year it was 2,300 acres, and this year, it will be 3,200 acres.

 “We offer two options for cover crops. The first is a ‘winter kill’ option, which is a mix of spring barley, oats and forage radishes. The second is a mix of oats, which will grow strongly in the fall and die, and winter cereal rye, which will come back in the spring.”

The citizen-member of the LCD board, Harriet Behar, was very enthusiastic about the proposed plan.

“There are definitely improvements,” Behar noted. “We really drilled down on specific things that we can do to help and teach landowners to increase their success in protecting land and water resources.”

Behar describes the plan as having very specific goals and benchmarks, and also supporting a related need to secure more financial resources for the county for conservation programs.

“We really drilled down on the unique topography of the county, and identified challenges and opportunities that it provides,” said Behar. “I was also very glad to see more focus put on forestry in the plan.”

Conservation association

The Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association, which will review and approve the county’s plan, is a 501(c)3 non-profit, membership organization that supports the efforts of 450 Land Conservation Committees (LCC), and provides training, develops conservation standards, promotes youth education, issues grants, builds partnerships, and provides advocacy.

Conservation department

Crawford County’s Land Conservation Department (LCD) provides technical assistance to residents and units of government to support them as they conserve land, protect natural resources, improve water quality and make wise land use decisions.

Information about the LCD and the plan can be found online at

What is the plan?

The Crawford County Land and Water Resource Management Plan (LWRMP) summarizes Crawford County’s soil and water resources and identifies conservation programs and actions to protect and enhance the resources.

The plan is also a guide for the LCD to assist county landowners and policymakers in protecting and improving land and water resources in the county.

Unlike the previous plans approved in 2001, 2006 and 2010, the current proposed plan is intended to provide direction to Crawford County and the Land Conservation Department for the next ten years – until 2025.

The plan has goals with specific, measurable objectives for Soil Erosion, Water Resources, Land Use Planning, Land Management, and Waste Disposal.

Implementation tools and strategies identified in the plan include an information and education strategy; regulatory requirements and performance standards; and partnerships and coordination.

Funding for plan implementation comes from a mix of private sources, and local, state and federal government sources.

Measuring and evaluating activities identified in the plan, considered critical in order for it to be successful, include water quality monitoring; development of the county’s Geographic Information System (GIS); and annual accomplishment reports.

Development of the plan

In 2008-2010 Crawford County undertook a planning process to develop the plan approved in 2010. The process was “public-intensive,” and those results were also used in the 2016 plan development process.

In the current cycle, additional input was gathered from the public comment portion of committee meetings, from LCD staff, and from representatives of partner agencies such as the NRCS and DNR. There was also a public hearing in May of 2016.

Also considered were the State of the Basin Plan of the DNR, Crawford County Farmland Preservation Plan (1982), Crawford County Soil Erosion Plan (1987), and Hydrolic Assessment of the Kickapoo Watershed (1998), all of which have a relationship to the county plan.