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Dane County unveils program to reduce runoff

Dane Co. unveils program to reduce runoff

STOUGHTON, Wis. - To coincide with Earth Day, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced the Continous Coverage Program, which aims to reduce runoff from heavy rain that can cause flooding.

The program will incentivize farmers to convert land used for annual row crops, such as corn and soybeans, into land planted with perennial grasses to ensure the soil isn't left bare and susceptible to erosion. The grasses will stop water from running off fields and leading to flooding, Parisi said. 

The program was announced on a Town of Dunkirk farm owned by James Amera. Several acres of Amera's farm will be converted from a conventional farm field to managed grazing land with perennial grasses. 

Amera said the conversion will help him reduce labor costs for raising bovine because the animals will be pastured. 

"It's more or less getting it going," Amera said. "Then once the grass is established and everything's going, it's a lot less labor than the other way."

For Parisi, the program is a way to help family farms and address erosion and runoff that can contribute to flooding. 

"So we're real excited to look for partners like James and his family and others across the county as we continue to help work with our family farms to help preserve our family farms, as well as protect our water resources," Parisi said.

Dane County's 2019 budget included $750,000 for the program, which is estimated to pay for the protection of around 300 acres in this pilot year with around 100 acres each devoted to managed grazing, wildlife and buffers between lands vulnerable to runoff and water resources, such as lakes, rivers, streams, according to Parisi. Those who sign up in the program will enter into 15-year agreements with the county.

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