Little Plover River: Streaming into healthier waterways
By Taylor J. Hale
PLOVER – Village leaders discussed the implementation of a recent EPA Wetland Development Grant totaling roughly $400,000.
The focus of the grant is on the Little Plover River, and its watershed system. While the EPA grant is the most recent, it is one of many grants utilized to help enhance the river’s flowage and health.
Village Administrator Dan Mahoney said that Plover has leverage over $3 million in funding to be used to help preserve the area’s waterways.
The Little Plover River Watershed Enhancement Project (LPRWEP) was created in 2017 to improve the hydrologic health and flowage of the river. The project utilizes aid from multiple groups and grant programs.
The EPA funding will allow the village to develop educational materials for other municipalities and landowners working on watershed improvements. Part of the proposed grant implementation sees the village meeting with and presenting data to landowners using wells on river flows.
“It’s all voluntary when we work with landowners,” Mahoney said. “We don’t do this through legislation. We want to find ways to work with people and make these improvements.”
The LPRWEP team will be working with the Wisconsin Wetlands Association and other groups to determine long term goals and strategies to aid their work with landowners to help sustain a healthy watershed.
The team also plans to produce case study materials for other municipalities looking to improve their waterways while identifying future areas in need of environmental maintenance.
The village has worked on restoring the Little Plover River since roughly 2006, according to Mahoney.
The LPRWEP offers landowners watershed protection aid through programs like the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which allows the village to work with farmers to find ways to improve water quality and decrease water waste.
“This could be finding new equipment that uses less water or planting prairie areas around fields as a ‘buffer zone’ for water runoff,” Mahoney said. “It gives us a chance to sit down with landowners and find strategies that will help the river and local watershed.”
The village has also utilized funding from WDNR conservation trusts, U.S. Fish & Wildlife grants, and monies from the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association.
Mahoney said that the LPRWEP team is also working on the Wisconsin Habitat Partnership Program in conjunction with UW-Stevens Point. The program is designed to remove invasive species and help increase the flowage of the Little Plover River. Volunteers bail the invasive foliage into bundles and place the units along the river’s banks, in essence, funneling the water into a narrower flowage.
Mahoney said he doesn’t see the LPRWEP team slowing down in the near future. He feels watershed protection is a lifelong responsibility for a municipality.
“There really isn’t an endpoint, if you think about it. If you’re going to manage your watershed, it wouldn’t be right to say, ‘we got the flows back; we’re done.’ I think it means a commitment to continue working on that watershed and always making sure it’s healthy.”
Contact Taylor J. Hale at firstname.lastname@example.org with Portage County news and information.