The latest water-related news and events
The latest water-related news and events
A monthly e-newsletter from the North Central Region Water Network
August 2021
Mirror Lake State Park. Baraboo, WI. Photo from Renee Fisher

Network News

It's hard to believe Labor Day is almost upon us. While so much is getting back to normal - so much isn't. It has made us take stock of the little things and appreciate things once taken for granted - like seeing colleagues and partners in person. 

We are excited to travel to the Kellogg Biological Station September 13-15th for the Soil Health Nexus Regional In-Service. The event will feature a tour of the long-term ecological research cropping system experiment, presentations from leading soil health researchers in the region, socials around the bonfire and more! Registration is still open for those interested in joining us!

-Rebecca Power and Anne Nardi, the North Central Region Water Network team

P.S. Want your water questions answered by colleagues? Use the North Central Region Water Network listserv to get answers quickly. To subscribe, email
Raingarden. Photo by EPA

The Current Webinar Series
Getting the Green Light for Green Infrastructure: Considerations and Resources for Success
Wednesday, September 15, 2021 at 2pm CT

Communities are increasing turning to green infrastructure to reach stormwater management goals. With green infrastructure, we see beautiful gardens and walkways, but perhaps more important are the things we can’t see. Communities must consider financing, ordinances, state and federal regulatory requirements, and public input in their decision making and planning processes. This edition of The Current will feature a deep dive into resources that can help communities do green infrastructure right. Register here
Photo by US EPA
Randy Jackson and Bert Paris discussing grazing

Network Spotlight

Grassland 2.0 project brings local flavor to the pursuit to more perennial agriculture

The current agricultural system in the Upper Midwest is built on annual cropping systems to support dairy and beef production. But, seventy-five years ago, most dairy and beef production relied on grassland – native tallgrass prairie that covered much of the Midwest and was used for grazing. Many livestock producers are facing volatile prices and profits in today’s system, and many are being forced to ‘get big or get out’. A collaborative group based at UW-Madison is working to provide an avenue for farmers facing these challenges to transition to pasture-based farms in order to reduce price swings, lower input costs allowing for increased profitability regardless of size. Read more
Photo by Finn Ryan
Students at the Red Oak Community Raingarden

Leadership Spotlight

New Green Infrastructure Community of Practice works to make green infrastructure a reality in communities across the region

Watching a big thunderstorm roll across Illinois is awe inspiring, but afterwards do you notice water pooling in the streets? Or worse yet, running through your basement? According to the recently published Illinois Climate Assessment, Illinois is experiencing more extreme weather – including more rain water in a shorter period of time – combined with longer periods of summer drought and higher temperatures. All that means that the infrastructure under the roads to move that stormwater away often can’t keep up. Some of it is over 100 years old. Many communities are turning to innovative solutions that not only help manage stormwater but give people parks to play in and habitats for birds and butterflies. Read on
Photo by Katie Gardner

In The News

Upcoming Events
Wisconsin Basic Soils & Web Soil Survey to Interpret Land Capabilities - Wisconsin Land and Water
September 1, 9:30AM - 3:30PM CT

This online, instructor-led course is designed to give conservation professionals an introduction to soil science and how soils information is used in the conservation planning process. Participants will be introduced to several common soil properties and interpretations as well as an overview of soil survey map unit design and composition. Participants will learn how to use Web Soil Survey to access soils information and how to apply this data for conservation practice planning, implementation, and evaluation. There are four modules (listed below). Each will be about an hour long with time following for questions. Learn more
Soil Health Nexus Extension Professional Development - Michigan State University 
September 13th-15th

The Soil Health Nexus annual professional development in-service for Extension professionals and agricultural advisors will be held at W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS). We will be exploring soil health, climate, and water quality research and issues that farmers face. On-going soil health research will be showcased by the researchers. This in-service will have some classroom discussions as well as in-field demonstrations and discussions. Participants have the option of staying at KBS, or driving to the station Learn more

82nd Minnesota Nutrition Conference - University of Minnesota
September 22nd & 23rd

The Minnesota Nutrition Conference, now in its 82nd year, is a highly regarded and well-known livestock nutrition conference in the upper Midwest. This conference delivers leading-edge, research-based knowledge to advance sustainable production of beef, dairy, poultry, and swine. This annual event is presented by the Department of Animal Science, University of Minnesota, and University of Minnesota Extension. Learn more

2021 Fermentation Fest

September 25th & 26th
Fermentation Fest is back this fall with a two-day celebration of live culture in all its forms. For this special Grassland Edition, Wormfarm Institute has partnered with researchers at the Grassland 2.0project (University of Wisconsin–Madison) to showcase regenerative, grassland-based agriculture. Presented at the historic Witwen Park & Campground in Sauk County, WI, the fest will include demos, art, performances from dance to “Grassical” music in an open-air Tabernacle to Scandanavian cow calling, local food, fermented beverages & more. Fermentation Fest is free to attend; concert tickets and tickets for special fermentation events are available for online purchase now. Learn More

Funding and Opportunities

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago Green Infrastructure Partnership Opportunity Program
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago recognizes that Green Infastructure (GI) practices can be effective in reducing wet-weather flows to combined sewer systems, reducing combined sewer overflows to local waterways, and reducing runoff volumes and improving water quality in separate sewer service areas. The MWRD of Greater Chicago is seeking to partner with local municipalities and public agencies to install green stormwater infrastructure to reduce the effects of flooding. Applications are due September 6th. Learn more

Biological Science Laboratory Technician Opening - USDA

This position is located within the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Field Organization, Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research U, Madison, WI, reporting location is Marshfield WI. The incumbent will actively participate in one or more phases of the research process by performing a variety of complex technical duties, in a laboratory or field environment, common to plants, soil, or animals. Learn more

NRCS FY 2021 Conservation Innovation Grants Program 

NRCS is announcing the availability of up to $15 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) funding to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies in conjunction with agricultural production. CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches (such as market-based systems) to agricultural producers, into technical manuals and guides, or to the private sector. Projects may be between 1 and 3 years in duration. Learn more

Soil Conservationist Opening - USDA
Soil Conservationist responsibilites include Assist in gathering and assembling preliminary data for all resource concerns for use in developing complete basic farm conservation plans, including conducting engineering surveys and preparing drawings for conservation practices common to the area. Utilizing Toolkit/Protracts programs in the documentation and management of conservation plans and technical assistance by the service center. Carrying out a follow-up schedule for applying soil conservation practices in accordance with plan and contract schedules. Working with District Conservationists to conduct environmental education on natural resource issues, water quality, and general conservation.
Learn more

Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grant - USDA
The Rural Energy for America Program will provide funds to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to install renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. The Rural Energy for America Program is designed to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the nations critical energy needs. The grants are awarded on a competitive basis. Learn more

Grazing Cattle Can Reduce Agriculture's Carbon Footprint - Texas A & M 
Ruminant animals like cattle contribute to the maintenance of healthy soils and grasslands, and proper grazing management can reduce the industry’s carbon emissions and overall footprint, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist.
Read on

Soil and its promise as a climate solution: A primer - Mongabay
We know soils feed plants, and plants feed us, but the world’s soils do more than help put food on the table. Soils recycle nutrients, regulate our water supply and, importantly for this moment in history: they store more carbon than plants, animals and the atmosphere combined. So, focusing humanity’s restoration efforts belowground could turn out to be an essential piece of the climate change solution puzzle. 
Read on

New app from Practical Farmers of Iowa helps with Cover Crops - Radio Iowa

Sarah Carlson, PFI’s strategic initiatives director, says the free app, called Find Cover Crops, aims to be a helpful resource and a time-saver. “Farmers can search with geolocation cover crop business services that are nearby their farm,” Carlson says. “So if you need somebody to custom drill, if you need to find an aerial applicator, or if you need to find seed or any other cover crop services, you can find those locations, find those businesses, reach out to them and hire their services.” Read on

Carbon credit market is a Wild West, for now - Agweek

To implement an agricultural carbon marketplace nationwide, a public-private partnership would need to be reached, said Tim Palmer, a farmer in southern Iowa and past president of the National Association of Conservation Districts.Palmer said the design of a carbon marketplace should resemble the creation of nationwide conservation districts, which didn't take long to be fully functional. "Every square inch of the United States is represented by a conservation district," Palmer said. "We've been doing this since the '30s, based on language that was brought to us by President (Franklin) Roosevelt, to control soil, soil movement and its effect on water quality and production, and now its effect on carbon and climate." Read on

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