Following lunch, we stopped at CB River Springs Ranch WRP. While this was not a 319 project, CB River Springs Ranch is a perpetual wetland easement installed from 2000 to 2002. It is managed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and owned by Jeff Casey and Claude Baird.
The wetlands consist of a series of seven sediment ponds called cells. These are divided up into two complexes: one complex with four cells and the other with three cells. It is on 82 acres, and the wetlands are designed to remove sediments and nutrients from the “chocolate milk” colored water entering the property. On average, the wetlands “store” the water for about four days. In the first few ponds, the sediment settles and drops from the water. Wetland plants take in the nutrients from the water. Plants must be removed from time to time after they are full of nutrients. By the time the water leaves the wetland to enter the Snake River, it is as clear as drinking water.
While the project is addressing water quality, it’s also addressing wildlife as well. Twenty-one acres of the eighty-two acre total is dedicated to upland habitat. A grass mix of Tall wheatgrass, Inter wheatgrass, Great Basin Wild rye, and Big Bluegrass were planted in the upland area. Our tour group saw ducks, snakes, wild turkeys, and a beaver crossing.
Jeff and Claude stressed to our tour group the maintenance needed to keep the wetlands running in top form. If they are not replanting wetland plants, they are ensuring the beavers do not dam up the inlets or scheduling a pond drainage to clean out sediment!
Thank you Canyon SCD for a great day touring conservation projects!
Our next stop on the 319 project tour was at Ubilla Farm. A pivot sprinkler had been installed on a 60 acre field to replace a surface irrigation system. Sand Hollow Creek runs next to the field, and any runoff/sediments were ending up in the creek. The soil is mostly a silt loam with sandy loam areas, and has a soil loss of over 15 tons per acre per year. Before the pivot was installed, erosion occurred at the top and bottom of the field. The field was also leveled to improve infiltration.
Like the drip system on our first stop, the pivot system will reduce soil erosion, water runoff, allow for more efficient water application, increase plant quality, use nutrients more efficiently, and require less pesticides and fertilizers. Water use efficiency increased by 40%, saving more than 50 acres inches per acre per year.
Check back tomorrow for the third and final stop on this great tour!
On August 8, 2012, the Canyon Soil Conservation District held a tour to show off some of their 319 grant projects. Canyon SCD was kind enough to extend an invitation to IASCD.
In 2009, the Lower Boise Watershed Council (LWBC) and the Canyon SCD partnered in sponsoring a 319 Grant to improve water quality on the Boise River and its tributaries. The quality of the Boise River was being compromised by sediment, phosphorous, and bacteria. 319 grants provide technical and financial assistance for agricultural producers and operators through Best Management Practices (BMPs). The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission (SWC) provide technical support.
Our first stop was Bob McKellip’s mint field. A drop irrigation system was installed on Mr. McKellip’s 37 acre mint field. Using the Surface Irrigation Soil Loss Program (SISL), the old surface irrigation system on silt loam soil lost over 3 tons per acre per year. This equals 187 tons per year, or 749 tons of soil lost over four years. Mr. McKellip’s field drains into Five Mile Creek, which later drains into the Boise River.
Drip tape is buried 6 to 8 inches below the soil, so the water goes directly to the root of the plant. This method allows Mr. McKellip to use half the water, fertilizer, and pesticide than he used previously. The drip system is also uniform across the 37-acre field, allowing equal distribution of water from one end of the field to the other.
After finishing at Mr. McKellip’s field, we drove past another mint field less than a mile away. This field was planted at the same time as Mr. McKellip’s crop, but uses surface irrigation methods. There were obvious differences in these two mint crops: Mr. McKellip’s mint was greener, bigger, and had no weeds!
Check back tomorrow for our next stop!