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News Releases

News Releases from Region 05

EPA Awards $96,000 to Improve Eau Claire River Watershed

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Rhiannon Dee (

Eau Claire, Wis. (Sept. 4, 2019) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a $96,000 environmental education grant to the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. The commission plans to work with area farmers and farmland owners to implement farming principles and practices that increase biodiversity, enrich soils, improve surface and groundwater quality, and enhance the ecosystem within the Eau Claire River Watershed.

“EPA is beyond proud to support the Putting the ‘Clear Water’ Back in the Eau Claire River project,” said Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp. “There is no way we can protect and restore the watershed without involving area farmers and their knowledge and appreciation for the land.”

The watershed encompasses 882 square miles in west-central Wisconsin, and many of its surface waters are impaired due to agricultural runoff. This environmental education project combines farmer-driven workshops, direct assistance, Future Farmers of America activities, and other stewardship projects to bring people together and support the local agricultural community.

“It became increasingly apparent during the Eau Claire River Watershed planning effort that our water quality goals would never be achieved without the involvement of local farmers,” said West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission Senior Planner Chris Straight. “We want to support farmers in achieving their goals. Our farmers care about both their business and water quality. And many of the same best practices that improve soil health will not only increase yield and profit but will benefit of surface and ground waters.”

Environmental education increases public awareness and knowledge about environmental issues. In doing so, it provides the public with the necessary skills to make informed decisions and take responsible action. 

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