The Clark County Soil and Water Conservation District was recognized for two conservation programs.
The Reading Rain Gardens for Water Quality project complements an existing 319 grant for the Silver Creek Watershed. Indiana American Water funded an initial rain garden demonstration site. Additional support allowed the District to install three more rain gardens in June of 2011.
The gardens themselves are visual educational tools. Each has a bench for people to sit and read or enjoy the garden's beauty, a sign explaining how rain gardens work, and books for purchase or loan.
The target audience for these new rain gardens was the nearly 37,000 residents of the Silver Creek Watershed. The gardens were installed on library grounds in order to maximize outreach, hence the project name "Reading" Rain Gardens.
The three rain gardens demonstrate in a beautiful way the benefit to the environment. The project was so successful the District is seeking funds to establish additional rain gardens.
The Clark County SWCD also showcased their Qualified Professional Inspector Training Program. This program provides consistent training for construction site inspectors - the individuals responsible for examining storm water best management practices installed at active construction sites.
The target audience is construction site Best Management Practice inspectors, developers, contractors, storm water coordinators, urban conservation specialists and site designers. Partners in this project are the Floyd County SWCD, Southern Indiana Storm Water Advisory Committee, City of Jeffersonville and others who promote the program.
The District says this program's success is evident in fewer environmental citations written and a greater awareness construction workers now have on the impact their sites have on the environment.
Both of these programs fit well into the Clark County SWCD's business plan that addresses critical natural resource issues.
Each area of the walk displays an interpretive sign explaining the conservation benefits, as well as information on how to implement them at home.
The LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District
is the second District Showcase winner for 2012. Their Community Conservation Walk is an exhibit that utilizes what was once dead space between buildings at their county fairgrounds. Now the area is a vibrant demonstration site that brings a wonderful conservation message to visitors at the LaPorte County fairgrounds!
During the LaPorte County Fair the fairgrounds is visited by over 90,000 people annually. This is a great opportunity to spread the District's message that "we are all land users and can make changes to improve our water quality."
The Conservation Walk brings home-owner scale conservation practices to life. The entrance is a large steel arch with sculptures of seven species of native bees welded to the top. The walk also features a rain garden, native prairie, pollinator habitat, water for wildlife area, composting station and a pervious pathway.
The Community Conservation Walk is a beautiful public area that also serves as an educational opportunity and cool resting space for all who visit.
The final District Showcase winner for 2012 is the Vermillion County Soil and Water Conservation District.
Additionally, the trees planted in Dana will tie up over 6,000 pounds per year of atmospheric carbon and remove ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide from the air.
On a rainy Sunday in April 2012, about 36 people gathered in the Town of Dana, Indiana, to help the Vermillion County SWCD and Dana's Tree Board plant the first 18 trees of the Dana Urban Forest Project
. This marked the beginning of the final stage of a multi-year project which was initiated nearly 10 years ago.
A 319 watershed grant study for the Little Vermillion River showed that much of the river's water quality had been degraded by the lack of nearby communities' municipal sewage collection and treatment infrastructure. This also had a huge impact on the economic development of the area.
The Vermillion County SWCD initiated meetings with county and municipal partners, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, USDA Rural Development and the Vermillion County Economic Development Council. Their goal was to find a way to install a modern sewage treatment management system.
The Town of Dana was one of the first communities in Vermillion County to install a municipal sewer system which was completed in 2011. As the design progressed, it was clear that construction required removing most of the stately 100-year old trees that lined the town streets.
After seeing their bare streets, the District worked with the Dana community to find a way to replace these trees. They developed a planting plan and budget and developed a town tree ordinance. An Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) grant required the town to become a "Tree City USA," which involved developing the ordinance and creating a tree board to oversee the planting and care for the public trees.
The District has been in the forefront of this project. From start to finish, the project's story highlights the Vermillion County SWCD's mission to provide leadership and assistance related to all local natural resources.