Conservation district seeking watershed stewards

SHERIDAN – The Sheridan County Conservation District is offering two opportunities in March for county residents to be good stewards of area watersheds. 
As part of local improvement efforts, the conservation district seeks to partner with residents in monitoring water quality and implementing programs that will address water quality concerns. 
“This is a chance for people to come and learn about what’s going on in local watersheds and to provide input on how to encourage participation and how to be good watershed stewards,” District Manager Carrie Rogaczewski said. 
The district holds regular watershed meetings but wanted to extend another invitation to anyone interested in watershed improvement efforts. 
The Goose Creek Watershed meeting will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday in room 170 of the Whitney Building at Sheridan College. 
The Tongue River Watershed meeting will be at 6 p.m. March 14 at Ranchester Town Hall.
The district currently has three active efforts in watersheds identified by the state of Wyoming as not having sufficient water quality for all intended uses, Rogaczewski said. All three have high levels of indicator bacteria that mean animal or human waste is finding its way into the water through direct discharge or indirect routes such as run-off. 
The Tongue River watershed encompasses the towns of Dayton and Ranchester. The Goose Creek watershed encompasses the city of Sheridan. The Prairie Dog Creek watershed begins northwest of Story and extends to the Montana border.
Rogaczewski said spring is a good time to monitor watersheds. As snow melts and rain falls, people can watch how water runs across the land. 
If it flows through areas where animals are concentrated before entering a water body, local landowners can partner with the conservation district to find a solution such as adding stock water to the land. 
Other concerns include septic systems situated within a flood plain or close to a creek.
When participants in watershed meetings voice concerns, the conservation district can offer financial and technical assistance to implement projects — such as replacing a septic system — that will improve water quality. State and federal grants can provide at least 50 percent of funding for a water improvement project, Rogaczewski said, noting that landowners often contribute labor or equipment in lieu of cash. 
Since the conservation district started offering cost share assistance in 2001, more than 70 projects addressing livestock, septic, irrigation and sediment concerns have been completed.
 

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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