Our View

We urge upper Shoal Creek landowners to attend a meeting tonight to learn about a grant program to restore and improve Shoal Creek in parts of Barry and Newton counties.

The meeting from 6 to 8:30 p.m. tonight at the Wheaton High School agricultural classroom will discuss protection and restoration work, including funding, with landowners along upper Shoal Creek and its tributaries, including Capps Creek, Joyce Creek, Pogue Creek and Woodward Branch.

Land abutting streams and rivers serves as a transition zone and a boundary between agricultural areas, roadways and other uses. The vegetation in these boundary areas removes excess nutrients and sediment from surface runoff and shallow groundwater, and the plants shade streams to maintain light and temperature conditions best for aquatic plants, fish and other animals, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Money is available from a grant of $207,395 recently awarded to The Nature Conservancy in Missouri by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Participation in the program is voluntary.

The funds will help landowners over the next three years to stabilize stream banks, to replant grasses and trees along creeks, and to fence banks where cattle can enter the waterway as well as to provide alternative water systems for cattle.

Managing diffuse sources of agricultural runoff is a challenge, and these funds will reduce such pollution in a way that respects property rights and doesn’t overburden landowners. Funding barriers such as fencing to keep cattle out of streams will keep manure out of the streams. Funding to provide alternative methods of watering cattle above the boundary vegetation will ensure waste isn’t washed directly into the water.

Drew Holt, project manager with the conservancy, said landowners typically have a 25% cost share when applying for state or federal funding for river improvement and river corridor restoration projects. With the right combination of vegetation for streambank stabilization, extending the riparian buffer zone and other conditions, Holt said landowners could reduce their part of the cost share to zero with the grant money.

That sounds like a solid program for landowners in the Shoal Creek watershed — one that will benefit all of us.

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