Grants have recently been awarded for 22 lake and river projects all over the state of Indiana. These grants totaling more than $814,000 were made possible through the Lake and River Enhancement program, part of the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife.
The projects involve 13 counties and more than 40 lakes and rivers. Local sponsors submitted applications and commit to sharing a portion of the total cost. DNR's share comes from the Lake and River Enhancement fee paid annually by boat owners to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. These grants allow for the completion of projects that would be difficult for local organizations to fund on their own.
"Our goal with projects such as these is to improve the aquatic habitat and enhance recreational opportunities for boating and fishing," said Mark Reiter, director of DNR Fish and Wildlife.
Big Raccoon Creek is among those awarded, receiving $20,000 for watershed land treatment.
Watershed is an area of land that drains to a common point. Conserving it is also one of the top priorities for the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District.
"The money is available now and the money is for farmers," said Sue Crafton executive director the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District. "We are looking to provide farmers with conservation practices that will limit the amount of sediment and nutrients flowing into Big Raccoon Creek and Cecil B. Harden Lake."
Nearly 9,000 acres of cropland and 881 acres of forested areas will be affected.
"We have practices like grass waterways, conservation tillage, cover crops, critical area planting, livestock watering facilities and planning management to help landowners have good conservation planning on their farms," Crafton said.
The $20,000 grant and its individual projects must be completed within two years. Farmers are now invited to contact the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District to get the process of distributing the money started.
First, farmers will have to submit paperwork and undergo an evaluation of their land, which will then be submitted to the state for approval. Pending approval, money will then be distributed.
"This process can start immediately," Crafton said. "This is an area we haven't addressed in quite some time or maybe at all."
For more information contact the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation district at 1007 Mill Pond Lane Ste. C in Greencastle or call 653-7454.