Over $300,000 awarded to landowners to fund soil conservation in Western Lake Erie Basin


INDIANAPOLIS (April 4, 2024) —The Indiana State Department of Agriculture and the USDA- Indiana Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced conservation practices will be implemented on over 1,700 Indiana farmland acres through the Western Lake Erie Basin Regional Conservation Partnership (RCPP).

The Western Lake Erie Basin Tri-State Collaboration Effort allows three states — Indiana, Michigan and Ohio — to come together to work with farmers, universities and non-governmental organizations and offer financial assistance to producers. The primary goal of this multi-state project is to protect the western basin of Lake Erie by reducing phosphorus and sediment loading, and algal blooms by using a suite of conservation practices working towards a 40 percent reduction of dissolved phosphorus.

“This funding goes a long way in ensuring we are enhancing and protecting the Western Lake Erie basin and in turn, members of those communities and the fish and wildlife that live there,” said Don Lamb, Indiana State Department of Agriculture director. “Collaborations like this Regional Conservation Partnership Program are incredibly valuable as we can share our finances, time, skills and talents to better our environment.” 

For 2024, more than $307,036 was awarded to Indiana landowners within the watershed to implement a series of conservation practices. These practices will work to implement over 125 new acres of cover crops, apply Gypsum to over 925 acres and use precision nutrient management on over 660 acres. The goal of these practices is to prevent nutrient runoff and decrease algal blooms in order to protect the Western Lake Erie Basin region.

“When partners come together to combine resources and contacts, they create a stronger force and set the stage for a collaborative journey marked by shared success,” said Indiana NRCS State Conservationist, Damarys Mortenson. “The Tri-State RCPP partnership is heightening the efforts already being done in the Western Lake Erie basin, helping to deliver conservation at a scale never before achieved in the watershed.”

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) funding comes from a 2021 agreement totaling $7.8 million. Indiana, Michigan and Ohio each receive a portion of the funding to assist producers in implementing best management practices in an effort to reduce downstream runoff and ultimately decrease harmful algal blooms and phosphorus levels. The Tri-State RCPP promotes the coordination between NRCS and ISDA partners to implement conservation to landowners in the Western Lake Erie Basin. Counties in the Western Lake Erie Basin include parts of Adams, Allen, Dekalb, Noble, Steuben and Wells.

RCPP funding was made possible by USDA, our fellow partnering states and more than 40 collaborating public and private organizations on the state and local level. Eligible producers and forestland owners who wish to implement conservation practices on their land should discuss their options with their local district conservationist. NRCS accepts program applications year-round, to be considered for the current RCPP-WLEB funding cycle. For more information or to submit an application, contact your local district conservationist by visiting Farmers.gov/Service-locator.