Local conservation group seeks fundingOne area group is working hard to help find local solutions to preserve St. Croix County and western Wisconsin’s natural, human and economic resources.
By: By Jackie Grumish, New Richmond News
One area group is working hard to help find local solutions to preserve St. Croix County and western Wisconsin’s natural, human and economic resources.
The Resource Conservation and Development program was started by the federal government in 1962; however, the program was cut from the budget in 2011. Now, the group is looking for private funding to keep going.
“We are taking our organization solo - launching as an independent non-profit organization and hoping to diversify and reach out to more folks within the Chippewa Valley,” said Erica Zerr, program assistant with the Eau Claire-based River Country Resource Conservation and Development Council.
The council is dedicated to natural conservation work in a 12-county region of westcentral Wisconsin (including St. Croix County), she said.
“We have been working on sustainable agriculture, watershed and prairie restoration, wildlife habitat restoration and local food initiatives for more than 20 years,” she said.
River Country RC&D works with landowners to cut through red tape and implement programs that improve land-use, foster resource development and enhance habitat value and beauty of the region. Projects include initiatives in sustainable agriculture, watershed conservation, prairie restoration, local food systems and wildlife habitat restoration.
The Graze River Country Initiative, which works with the St. Croix Valley Graziers Network, links landowners to the tools, plans and resources necessary to return livestock to the land, fostering healthier land use, improved profitability for farmers and healthier food options for local consumers. Over the past 12 years this initiative has planned grazing systems on more than 20,000 acres of land.
The organization’s watershed initiatives are aimed at reaching region specific stewardship goals. Their watershed programs, which include phosphorus reduction in the Red Cedar River watershed, the Elk Creek Watershed Stakeholder Project and the Bugle Lake Restoration effort, were all created as collaborative efforts between landowners, governmental agencies, communities, civic groups and businesses to improve and restore the region’s most utilized natural attractions.
The organization is also the founder of the Midwest Value-Added Agricultural Conference, which has brought such noted names as Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm and Will Allen of Growing Power to the region to discuss agricultural innovation and creativity in marketing local food.
As part of the nationwide Resource Conservation and Development program, River Country RC&D received in-kind support from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service in the form of an NRCS coordinator, office space and monetary contributions to pioneer programs.
For more information about River Country RC&D or to make a donation, please visit their website www.rivercou ntryrcd.org.