Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and Iowa Department of Natural Resources Acting Director Bruce Trautman last week announced that 10 Iowa lakes will receive funding through the Publicly Owned Lakes Program.


Among those listed is Hickory Grove Lake, near Colo, in Story County.


The Publicly Owned Lakes Program supports cost share for landowners to install conservation practices in the watershed above publicly owned lakes and reservoirs.


According to Amy Yoakum, natural resource specialist with Story County Conservation, when funding became available through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Story County officials decided to work through the process of requesting a POL (Publicly Owned Lake) designation.


“It was actually the Story Soil and Water Conservation District that had to turn in the paperwork and request the designation,” she said, adding that the funds will be channeled through them.


“The POL designation helps fund conservation practices on private property outside the park boundary,” Yoakum explained. “Approved practices include terraces, waterways, grade stabilization structures, water and sediment control basins and cover crops, strip-cropping, field borders and filter strips. We will be working with private landowners to implement some of these practices and improve the water quality at Hickory Grove.”


“This program is another great example of the partnership between the Department of Ag, the Iowa DNR, USDA NRCS and local farmers and landowners to protect our state’s natural resources,” Naig said. “Our lakes are a tremendous asset and these funds will help make sure they are protected so Iowans can continue to enjoy our state’s water resources.”


“This is a significant amount of funds dedicated solely to protecting Iowa’s lakes,” Trautman said. “These projects will benefit water quality in our lakes through many different projects by utilizing common conservation practices.”


This year, $323,500 in funding to districts will allow for targeted conservation work, including 465 acres of cover crops, 25,825 feet of terraces, six grade control structures and six water and sediment control basins to be implemented above these lakes.


Each year, 5 percent of the appropriation to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship for soil conservation cost share goes towards protecting the water quality of publicly owned lakes in Iowa. Local Soil and Water Conservation Districts submit applications to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to become a designated lake. Farmers living within the selected lakes’ watersheds can apply for up to 75 percent cost share for practices that protect water quality.