HeartLands Conservancy, a nonprofit serving Southwestern Illinois, has received funding from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to develop two watershed plans to address drainage and water quality in the Wood River and Piasa Creek watersheds.
When complete, these plans will make informed recommendations on how to decrease flood damage, improve water quality, reduce soil erosion, and restore fish and wildlife habitat.
The two watersheds cover a 156,0000-acre area in Madison, Macoupin, and Jersey counties. Much of the area is farmland but also includes the communities of Alton, Bethalto, Brighton, East Alton, Elsah, Godfrey, Woodburn, and Rosewood Heights. Both watersheds drain directly to the Mississippi River.
These watershed plans follow HeartLands Conservancy’s success in creating the Upper Silver Creek Watershed Plan and the Lower Silver Creek Watershed Plan with grants from IEPA, both of which were written and approved in the last four years. HeartLands Conservancy has also secured IEPA 319 grants totaling more than $900,000 for implementing best management practices in the Upper Silver Creek and Highland Silver Lake watersheds.
Madison County Planning and Development and HeartLands Conservancy have been working together on drainage issues for the last six years. As part of the county’s Stormwater Management Plan, watershed plans are being created to identify and address water quality and flooding issues affecting county residents.
To create the watershed plans, HeartLands Conservancy will work closely with various groups throughout the watershed, including counties, local governments, and key organizations such as soil and water conservation districts, the Farm Bureau, and Great Rivers Land Trust. Project partners include the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center and Midwest Streams Inc.
“We are looking forward to working with the people living in these watersheds to identify pollution and drainage issues,” said Mary Vandevord, president and chief executive officer of HeartLands Conservancy. “Watershed plans are a great and often necessary first step toward obtaining funds from government agencies and foundations to help address these issues.”
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