When Mr. Great Lakes was younger, he and his high school friends used to make an annual trip to Sterling, to camp in tents at White’s Canoe Livery and tackle the Rifle River on a Saturday morning. That was before most of us got married and had little ones. I went down the Rifle with my wife and two kids in June, maybe for the last time. The river was too low, the canoe was too heavy, and I felt like The Skipper when a three-hour tour turned into a seven-hour nightmare. Which brings me to my (roundabout) point. The federal government is stepping up to help the Rifle. No, they won’t be putting in more water or helping people drag their canoes. But they’re putting up money to reduce runoff into the river, which is a good thing, especially if you happen to fall in.
Tim Bohnhoff, district conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Standish, says the Au Gres-Rifle River Watershed is receiving a share of $8.9 million from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for improving water quality by reducing non-point source pollution from agricultural operations. (I hate the term “non-point” because we all know where the stuff is coming from, but that’s the bureaucratic speak).
Practices eligible for assistance in the watershed include cover crops, filter strips, field borders, residue management, nutrient management and prescribed grazing.
Keep the money coming, EPA, for projects that bring physical improvement, not more studies. Let’s not forget that farmers need to take steps to keep runoff from running off in the first place, too, GLRI or not.
For more on what’s eligible for the Saginaw Bay watershed, see www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/glri.html.
Thanks for the tip, Tim. And here’s another tip: “Trust the river” is an old saying from my post-high-school canoeing days at White’s. It refers to just sitting back and enjoying nature, hoping that the current will magically carry you out of harm’s way, and the rocks and tree limbs that cause your canoe to turn over. It doesn’t always work.
— Image via Flickr.