By Andrea McCann Times Sentinel Managing Editor
Zionsville Times Sentinel
---- — Boone County has been awarded three Lake And River Enhancement (LARE) grants through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife: $32,000 for an Eagle Creek design project; $20,000 for a watershed land treatment project on Brown's Wonder Creek; and $43,000 for a design and build project on Prairie Creek. "For 25 years, the LARE program has focused on reducing sediment and nutrient inputs into water," said Mark Reiter, IDNR Division of Fish & Wildlife director. "These grants continue that tradition while at the same time enhancing aquatic habitat and recreational potential for Indiana's lakes and rivers." The grants fund biological, engineering, construction and watershed land treatment projects throughout the state. In this round, 22 projects were awarded grants totaling $768,500. "Brown's Wonder was targeted as kind of a hot spot," said Scheryl Vaughn, Boone County Soil and Water Conservation District administrator/resource conservationist, explaining its sediment load was exceeded and there was nutrient runoff. Located in the northeastern part of the county, Browns Wonder watershed is approximately 18,885 acres of predominantly agricultural land, according to Vaughn. Landowners in the watershed can apply for a portion of the $20,000 grant -- on a cost-share basis -- to establish certain conservation practices that will help alleviate some of the sediment and nutrient runoff as well as creek bank erosion. Vaughn said the amount of the cost share depends upon the practice selected. Cover crops, filter strips, buffer strips, conservation tillage, grade stabilization structures, pasture and hayland planting are some of the conservation practices Vaughn said have been targeted with the funds because they'd have an immediate impact in keeping nutrients and sediments out of the water. Landowners can start applying immediately. "Prairie Creek has several areas where it's eroding -- one location on East Street, another on Washington Street in Lebanon," Vaughn continued. See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.