The problem of soil erosion on farms, ranches and rangeland in the lower Colorado River basin can be attributed to overgrazing, a lack of vegetative, or riparian, buffers along creeks and other waterways, and the spread of invasive brush species that choke out native vegetation. As a result, thousands of acres of valuable soil wash into the waterways of the lower Colorado River basin every year. The result is build-up of sediment, which can harm water quality, worsen flooding and threaten aquatic habitats.
One of LCRA's first responsibilities when it was created in 1934 was soil conservation. Through the Creekside Conservation Program, LCRA continues to work with landowners and state and federal agencies to reduce sedimentation and agricultural nonpoint-source pollution on privately owned land in 11 counties along the Colorado River. The program is offered to landowners in Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Colorado, Fayette, Lampasas, Llano, Matagorda, San Saba, Travis and Wharton counties.
Managing lands to prevent soil erosion and increase rainfall absorption
The Creekside Conservation Program provides matching grants to landowners for pre-approved land management projects such as brush management, slope stabilization, vegetative or riparian buffers along creeks and other waterways, field terracing, sustainable range seeding, land shaping, and rotational grazing systems.
Farmers, ranchers and other landowners who manage their lands to conserve soil and water can reduce the use of chemicals, save money and increase the value of their lands. Other benefits include improved vegetative cover that will hold soil, increase land productivity, filter groundwater and enhance wildlife habitat.
How the Creekside Conservation Program works
Landowners may receive up to 50 percent of the cost of pre-approved soil and water conservation and land management projects through the program. The local office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps owners plan the projects, and LCRA provides the matching funds.
There are three steps:
- Landowners must first contact their local NRCS office. The NRCS identifies and selects projects that qualify for matching funds based on the severity of the problem, the project's compatibility with the program's objectives, and the availability of other funding sources.
- The NRCS submits the plans for each project to the local Soil and Water Conservation District for review and approval. After a project is approved by the district, the NRCS submits it to LCRA for final approval.
- Upon successful completion of the project, the landowner is reimbursed as much as one-half the actual cost. The NRCS and LCRA review projects annually for three years to monitor success.
To apply, contact your local NRCS office. For more information, email LCRA's Land Conservation or call 1-800-776-5272, Ext. 7220.