AFT Completes Illinois EPA Watershed-Based Plan - American Farmland Trust

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American Farmland Trust Completes Illinois EPA Watershed-Based Plan

Advancing Water Quality Goals in the Illinois Vermilion Headwaters Watershed

SPRINGFIELD, IL – American Farmland Trust recently completed a Section 604B Clean Water Act grant to prepare a nine-element watershed-based plan for the Vermilion Headwaters Watershed (VHW). AFT worked with partners The Wetlands Initiative and Northwater Consulting to create the plan. Members of the VHW Steering Committee provided instrumental feedback in making sure the plan was considerate of those who lived in the watershed. The Vermilion Headwaters Watershed encompasses parts of Livingston, Ford, Iroquois, and McLean Counties in Illinois.

This plan will help build capacity for ongoing stakeholder engagement to achieve water quality goals directly related to the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.

This watershed was identified as one of the top five non-point source nitrogen loading watersheds in Illinois and a major contributor to nitrogen loading in the Mississippi River. The VHW Partnership currently uses conservation planning models to inform goals and implement strategies that will achieve nutrient reductions at the field and watershed scale. Since 2015, more than $1.7 million has been invested in conservation practices in the watershed as an extension of AFT’s partnership with the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (Livingston and Ford County), and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“The Vermilion Headwaters Watershed Plan is a critical next step in providing direction and additional funding to improve water quality in the area,” said Shelby Leick, AFT Midwest Senior Program Manager. “We look forward to working with the community and partners to begin plan implementation over the coming years.”

The Vermilion Headwaters Watershed spans roughly 305,426-acres. To achieve water quality goals, the VHW Partnership wants to implement an additional 80,000 acres of conservation cropping systems, which includes practices such as reduced tillage, cover crops, nutrient management, and tile water treatment.

Farmers interested in improving water quality and soil health can review the plan and learn more by visiting


American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 7.8 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families. 


About the Author
Piero Taico

Midwest Communications Manager


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