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Partner Led Meramec River Basin Watershed Project Selected asa 2009"Ten Waters to Watch" by the National Fish Habitat Action Plan Board.
Midwest Region, May 12, 2009
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The Meramec Watershed Basin project is the largest partner driven project to be recognized as a 2009 “Water to Watch” by the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. The Meramec Basin is a species-rich aquatic system with 43 species of freshwater mussels and 90 species of fish. It is a priority aquatic watershed in Missouri’s State Wildlife Action Plan. Efforts to improve aquatic habitat in the Meramec – Lower Bourbeuse watersheds are unique, as landowners drive the restoration programs. There is a lengthy history of established landowner cooperation/participation in the Meramec Basin-Lower Bourbeuse watershed. An established six member landowner committee governs and guides restoration efforts in the Lower Bourbeuse Conservation Opportunity Area (COA) watersheds and leads by example, contributing their time and expertise. Installation of fencing, alternative water systems, and secured cattle crossings will keep cattle out of most of the streams on these properties addressing the root causes of habitat deterioration. This dedication has been matched by natural resource agencies and organizations over the last eight years. Grants and leveraged funds from: the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and Ecological Services programs; National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, Stream Stewardship Trust Fund; and Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative have helped improve stream stability and water quality on several farms.

In an effort to improve stream habitat, 50 to100-foot buffer zones are being reforested along the streams. Ten to thirty year agreements are being signed with landowners to ensure protection of resources.  Economic benefits such as lower fertilizer costs, higher forage utilization, and improved cattle health will encourage farmers to utilize best management practices to ensure this habitat stays intact. Another key to this program’s success is meeting the farmers’ needs. One basic fact of cattle production is that they need shade. The introduction of portable cattle shade structures encouraged several landowners to fence their cattle out of the riparian corridor.

 

The 1998 Missouri Department of Conservation Meramec River Demonstration project identified the primary impact of the Meramec System to be grazing and watering of cattle in riparian corridors. There is much work remaining to be done in the Lower Bourbeuse COA as approximately 52% of these watersheds are in pasture. The program has recently expanded to include the Lick Creek and Boone Creek sub-watersheds through funding provided by the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.

The mission of NFHAP is to protect, restore and enhance the Nation's fish and aquatic communities through partnerships that foster fish habitat conservation and improve the quality of life for the American people. This watershed received 2008 demonstration project funding through the candidate Fishers and Farmers Partnership of the Upper Mississippi River Basin. This enabled partners to install practices to remove cattle from streams on 14 farms in the Lower Bourbeuse COA. Project funding in 2009 will be through the Southeast Aquatic Resource Partnership. More information about the National Fish Habitat Action Plan can be found on their webpage www.fishhabitat.org .

Contact Info: Joanne Grady, 573-234-2132 x101, joanne_grady@fws.gov



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