Stony Creek Watershed Sediment Delivery and Soil Erosion Reduction
Door County Soil & Water Conservation
Basin Program Funds:
The Stony Creek Watershed has been identified as a high priority for the implementation
of a large scale water quality protection and improvement project by the Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR has studied the surface water
quality of this watershed and concluded that it is in need of protection and
improvement related to sediment and associated nutrients which limit the abundance
and diversity of aquatic communities.
The primary goal of this project was to reduce soil erosion and sediment delivery
from targeted high sediment delivery agricultural fields located in the Stony
Creek Watershed. A related goal was to foster a cooperative effort between the
Door County Soil and Water Conservation Department (SWCD), University of Wisconsin
Cooperative Extension (UWEX), and the Door/Kewaunee Forage Council. The Forage
Council is a group of agri-businesses and producers located in both Door and
Kewaunee Counties, Wisconsin. Both goals will be completed through a cooperative
effort to implement a quality forage based crop on agricultural fields, which
have been identified as having a high soil loss rate and/or are yielding high
sediment loads to Stony Creek and ultimately the Great Lakes system. A third
goal of this project will be to change landowner attitudes toward forage based
crops for their cash value and ultimately change the land use of these targeted
The SWCD, with assistance from the UWEX, completed a direct mailing announcing
the project to all cropland owners and operators in the study area. SWCD personnel
then created a database using field size, crop rotations, soil types, drainage
patterns and other hydrologic information to determine sediment delivery data.
Using the data they developed a program cost-share policy and nominated and
ranked a list of eligible fields. Personnel disseminated information about the
project through a program brochure, articles in the Door County Advocate, UWEX
newsletters, and the Door County Property Owners Association newsletter.
Because of the high costs involved with establishing a quality alfalfa field,
the Door County Land Conservation Committee approved an additional $5,000 from
the County funds to compliment the program's goals. Seven farmers signed cost-share
applications for twelve fields totaling 216.9 acres at an estimated total landowner
cost of $32,024.76 with a related grant encumberment of $18,715.27. All twelve
fields had a sediment delivery rate of at least 0.35 tons/acre/year. The worst
field inventoried had a sediment delivery of 5.07 tons/acre/year.
A cooperative effort between the Door County SWCD, UWEX, and the Door-Kewaunee
Forage Council developed, however, a joint County Forage Council did not develop
due to a lack of participation and commitment. Efforts at changing landowner
attitudes about the value of high quality forage and the benefits of adding
alfalfa into their rotation is an ongoing process. This will be emphasized and
reinforced over the three year post-project operation and maintenance period,
as well as through other conservation projects in the counties.
The SWCD expects a 8.5% or a 270 ton reduction in the annual sediment
delivery in the Stony Creek Watershed. This comparison is based on the continuous
hay rotation verses the previously inventoried rotation through the use of the
WIN-HUSLE Sediment Delivery Model. Also, the associated phosphorus load calculates
the sediment load with a calibration factor, so similar reductions are expected.
WIN-HUSLE estimated a reduction of 3,240 pounds of phosphorus to Stony Creek.
Nitrogen reductions are estimated to be one fifth of the phosphorus savings
and are approximately 648 pounds.
Contact: Thomas Sweeney, (414) 746-2214