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Working watersheds in the USA

Planting trees, shrubs and grasses as buffer zones alongside streams and rivers has proven effective in intercepting up to 90% of sediment and chemical runoff before it enters water systems – along with reinvigorating the natural flora and fauna. Trees Forever, which pioneered the techniques and ideas across the mid-Western states of Illinois and Iowa, has now extended the Iowa Buffer Initiative into a comprehensive watershed approach.

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and others are sponsoring sites vulnerable to erosion and water pollution. Those that have been selected for the Working Watersheds  project, can be eligible for up to $2,000 in cost share funding for planting projects. Trees Forever field coordinators work directly with farmers using a flexible menu of conservation practices to achieve successful results – 90% of trees planted in its projects survive.

Working Watersheds demonstrates the effectiveness of buffers and other conservation practices, including stream bank stabilization and constructed wetlands. The programme goals include improving water quality and, enhancing the economic benefits, with some sites focused on producing wood-based crops for specialty markets.