The problem of soil erosion on farms, ranches and rangeland in the lower Colorado River basin can be attributed to overgrazing, a lack of vegetative, or riparian, buffers along creeks and other waterways, and the spread of invasive brush species that choke out native vegetation. As a result, thousands of acres of valuable soil wash into the waterways of the lower Colorado River basin every year. The result is build-up of sediment, which can harm water quality, worsen flooding and threaten aquatic habitats.
One of the Lower Colorado River Authority's (LCRA) first responsibilities when it was created in 1934 was soil conservation. In 1990, LCRA began the Soil and Water Stewardship (Creekside Conservation) Program after a study determined that reducing soil erosion from private lands could be a cost-effective way to reduce sediment load across the lower Colorado River basin. In 2004, TSSWCB provided the LCRA a Clean Water Act §319(h) Nonpoint Source Grant (project 04-05 "Creekside Conservation Program Project") to help fund larger conservation projects in the Highland Lakes area. Consequently, LCRA was able to raise the reimbursement cap to $20,000 throughout the grant region. Through this project, LCRA will continue to work with landowners and state and federal agencies to reduce sedimentation and agricultural nonpoint source water pollution on privately owned land in 11 counties along the Colorado River. The program is offered to landowners in Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Colorado, Fayette, Lampasas, Llano, Matagorda, San Saba, Travis and Wharton counties.
The Creekside Conservation Program provides technical and financial assistance to landowners for pre-approved land management projects such as slope stabilization, vegetative or riparian buffers along creeks and other waterways, brush management, field terracing, sustainable range seeding, land shaping, and rotational grazing systems.
Farmers, ranchers and other landowners who manage their lands to conserve soil and water can reduce the use of chemicals, save money and increase the value of their lands. Other benefits include improved vegetative cover that will hold soil, increase land productivity, filter groundwater and enhance wildlife habitat.
Project Location: Lower Colorado River Basin within Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Colorado, Fayette, Lampasas, Llano, Matagorda, San Saba, Travis and Wharton counties
Project Participant(s): TSSWCB, Lower Colorado River Authority, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service