In a joint effort to conserve this important resource, we have partnered with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) and other local organizations to form the Milwaukee River Watershed Conservation Partnership (MRWCP). The MRWCP is a coalition of agricultural producers, agribusinesses, state and local governments, community organizations, and land trusts coordinated by MMSD and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program. MRWCP works with local producers and landowners to keep nutrients in the soil, sediment out of the water, and our agricultural lands thriving.

Our Role

As a member of MRWCP, we work closely with local landowners and partners, taking a collaborative approach to agricultural conservation that helps mitigate flooding and stormwater runoff downstream, improve soil quality and support smart agricultural production.

Conservation Easements & Working Soils®
MRWCP’s Working Soils® program is a complement to Greenseams®, a MMSD flood management program implemented by The Conservation Fund which promotes the protection of open space and hydric soils that serve as a “natural sponge” to prevent flooding in the greater Milwaukee area. Similarly, Working Soils supports flood management by permanently protecting open space while also keeping agricultural lands in production.

The Conservation Fund works with willing landowners to establish agricultural conservation easements through NRCS’s Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP). With an easement, a landowner is able to sell the rights to develop the land while maintaining ownership. Once an easement is established, we work closely with NRCS and landowners to identify concerns related to erosion, flooding, wetland restorations, wildlife habitat and soil health. With this information, we create a conservation plan that best suits their property’s needs, and gives landowners a blueprint for best management practices, such as cover crop rotation, grassed waterways, or no-till farming, to improve yield and soil health. We also help connect landowners to funding resources or cost share opportunities to put these practices into action.

Milwaukee River Watershed Clean Farm Families (CFF)
Recognizing the importance of collaboration and information sharing among local communities, we work closely with the Milwaukee River Watershed Clean Farm Families, a coalition of local farmers who are dedicated to improving soil health and water quality in the region by working with land and water conservationists, agribusinesses, local land trusts, MMSD, NRCS and other farmers. This producer-led group is using peer-to-peer communication and outreach, cost-share programs and conservation practice demonstrations to advance the connection between farming and land stewardship.

Through activities such as field days, test plots and demonstrations, CFF producers explore innovative ways to further soil and water conservation, and in turn increase their bottom line. The CFF Cover Crop Incentive Program, funded through the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection  (DATCP) grant program, and the Fund for Lake Michigan, has already led to 906 acres of conservation tillage, 112 acres of nutrient management planning, 80 acres of low disturbance manure application, and 524 acres of cover crops planted in the watershed.

Why This Project Matters

Healthy watersheds provide critical services to local communities, such as clean drinking water, productive crops and natural flood protection. They also support our economies, environment and quality of life. Implementing cost-effective conservation practices that protect the soil can mitigate flooding and water pollution, thus creating healthy, species-rich waterways that will benefit the entire watershed.

And by working closely with producers and local partners to educate, collaborate, and innovate on what agricultural conservation can look like, we are supporting a community-based approach that is safeguarding vital agricultural resources and improving water quality for future generations.

Learn More

Blog: Healthy Soils, Clean Water, Smart Business
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