LaGrange County Grant Involvement
Since 1999, the LaGrange County Soil and Water Conservation District has actively pursued federal, state, local, private and public grants to help fund conservation work in northeastern Indiana. With the help of many partners such as Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), LaGrange County government and neighboring conservation districts, millions of dollars have been funneled toward resource conservation. The SWCD has also benefitted greatly from its close association with Sustainable Natural Resources Technologies (SNRT), a company founded by watershed management specialist, Dr. David Arrington. The LaGrange County SWCD also partners with groups such as St. Joe River Basin Commission, Friends of the St. Joe, and Lakes Country Cluster to further promote and carry out conservation efforts. All of LaGrange County lies in the St. Joseph River Watershed, ending up in Lake Michigan. Therefore, all of the SWCD's conservation efforts in LaGrange County have an impact on Lake Michigan even though it is not right in our backyard.
Great Lakes Commission Grants: Pigeon River Watershed, Elkhart River (North Branch) Watershed, Fawn River Watershed.
As mentioned above, LaGrange County is the only Indiana county wholly drained by the St. Joseph River running to Lake Michigan. 2019 saw the completion of two Great Lakes Commission cost share implementation grants to improve soil health and surface water quality in the St. Joseph River Basin. The Pigeon River drains approximately 55% of LaGrange County. The GLC project in the Pigeon Watershed began in October of 2015, and the final grant report was accepted in December of 2019. It included the installation of livestock exclusion fence, the development of grazing plans, the installation of heavy use pads and manure storage areas, critical area seedings and the establishment of filter strips.
The Elkhart River (North Branch) project, also funded in cooperation with the Great Lakes Commission, ran almost concurrently with the Pigeon River project. This best management practice cost share program, utilizing many of the same practices mentioned above, began in October of 2016 and ended at the end of September 0f 2019. The final report for this project is being reviewed at this time.
The Fawn River project in the northeast corner of LaGrange County is ongoing. The Great Lakes Commission project here began in October 2018 and will continue until the end of September 2021. Land use in the Fawn has proven to be unique and different from the agricultural areas of the rest of the county, and cost share programs here may be oriented more toward row-crop operations and the improvement of soil health and less toward livestock management practices.
LARE Grant with Big Long Lake Resource Conservation
The LaGrange County Soil & Water Conservation District received a grant in August of 2018 to apply an erosion concern in the Big Long Lake area in the southeastern portion of the county. A conservation plan was developed over the last year, however, has failed to meet required approval with local private landowners.
Currently, District staff are working with IDNR LARE Coordinator Doug Nusbaum to develop an alternative conservation plan. If not extended, the grant will expire at the end of August 2020. Before that time, it is hoped that a new strategy can be formulated that will meet the approval of involved landowners and address critical soil and water resource concerns in the area.
LaGrange County Cost Share programs
Rural Septic Cost share
· To be eligible for cost share, the property must be located in LaGrange County with an improperly functioning or failed septic system at an existing site. New home construction is not eligible.
· Reimbursement for cost share is up to 50% of the total cost of construction, not to exceed $1,000 per project. Cost share funds must be used for direct repair or replacement of components of an existing failed septic system including but not limited to septic tank, septic lines, distribution box, absorption field, labor and equipment cost. Work must pass inspection by an official of the LaGrange County Health Department.
· The LaGrange County SWCD Board will award up to 5 cost-share grants per year.
· Cost share is limited to one septic system per landowner, every 5 years.
· This program is targeted at individual residential septic systems replacement or repair. Multi-residential, commercial, industrial or agricultural systems are not eligible for cost share under this program.
· This program does not cost share on regular maintenance of an existing septic system, for example, routine pumping of the septic tank is not eligible for cost share under this program.
· Cost share recipients receiving $600.00 or more will receive a Form 1099 to file as income.
· Applicant must graduate from an accredited school program located in LaGrange County.
· Applicant must be enrolled in an accredited educational or training institution, in a program related to agriculture or natural resources conservation as intended major.
· Applicant may not be an immediate family member of an employee or board supervisor of the LaGrange County SWCD.
· Applicant must submit a completed application with a brief autobiography to explain why they should be awarded the scholarship.
· Applicants will be judged on GPA, extracurricular activities, references and autobiography.
· This scholarship will be available to recipient upon the successful completion of their first semester at a college, university or technical school. The SWCD will issue one check in the name of the recipient, following the receipt of a copy of grades or transcript. The scholarship may be applied to costs directly related to educational expenses such as books, tuition, housing, lab fees, etc. This scholarship is not renewable.