Increasing urban development and changing agricultural practices have resulted in pollution and habitat loss along the Mackinaw River. These negative impacts aside, the Mackinaw River Watershed is one of the state's finest examples of a restorable watershed.
Conservancy staff is working within this watershed at the Franklin Demonstration Farm performing research on agricultural practices that benefit both farmers and conservation efforts.
North of Bloomington in central Illinois
What the Conservancy Is Doing/Has Done Here
The Mackinaw River watershed contains some of the most productive agricultural land in the nation. The rich soils here produce abundant crops, primarily corn and soybeans. The Conservancy is working with numerous partners, including local farmers, to help guide and influence the use of conservation-oriented agricultural techniques.
The Conservancy has conducted a five-year Paired Watershed Study within the Mackinaw River watershed. Funded by a generous grant from the Kellogg Foundation, the study is showing that focused outreach efforts—meetings and agricultural demonstrations—can persuade farmers to use suggested conservation-oriented agricultural practices. The study also is showing that such practices can benefit water quality in local streams and wetlands.
The results of the Paired Watershed Study have potentially far-reaching implications on landowner behavior and agricultural policy. If replicated in multiple river systems throughout the Upper Mississippi River Basin, the suggested conservation-oriented agricultural practices, in concert with other preservation and restoration activities, have the potential to significantly improve water quality throughout the Midwest.
The Conservancy's work along the Mackinaw River contributes to the Great Rivers Partnership's efforts to share science among organizations working protect the tributary streams of the Mississippi River and other large river systems around the world.
Hoping to further reduce nutrient runoff, staff is adding cover crops to conservation methods at the Franklin Demonstration Farm.