Conservation district leads way in projects

Conservation district leads way in projects Last fall the Clay County Conservation District built or repaired eight dams creating 12.6 acres of wetlands with the capability of holding back 80 acre feet of flood waters.

The dams are located on private lands high in the Vermillion River watershed where drainage area is measured in tens of acres. It was a collaborative effort with many partners.

Thanks to local match grants in the amount of $7,382 from the Vermillion Basin Water Development District, Clay County Conservation District was able to participate in a multi-county federal grant initiated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Partners Pond Project brought together federal, state, and local governments along with Ducks Unlimited and local landowners with the goal of building small multi-purpose embankment ponds. Together, these partners contributed over $70,000 to the building of dams in Clay County.

With seed money of $5,000 from the Vermillion Basin Water Development District, the conservation district joined the Partners Pond Project headed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Federal Emergency Management Agency contributed over $29,000 for these flood water retention ponds, Ducks Unlimited provided over $4,000 towards these waterfowl production areas, the US Fish and Wildlife Service gave over $10,000 in cash towards these wildlife areas as well as providing technical administrative assistance.

South Dakota Game Fish and Parks chipped in $1,000 towards these wildlife habitat areas. Landowners kicked in over $4,000 towards these livestock watering ponds. Later, the Vermillion Basin Water Development District added another $2,382 to help landowners directly with their share of the cost. The Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Conservation District contributed over $10,000 in technical and administrative services.

Connie Wulff, district manager, said "This program has assisted 12 Clay County landowners build or repair 14 dams over the past six years. In addition to flood damage reduction, the new ponds will also provide water for livestock and wildlife and will help keep sediments from downstream waters.

"These water retention projects are excellent examples of how federal, state and local government agencies, private and nonprofit organizations and local citizens can work together to meet common goals and needs," she added.

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