Our Work

We support farmers, landowners, advisors, and local groups working together to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff to streams of the upper Mississippi River Basin.

Relevant Information For Farmers

Information for improving local stream habitats and watersheds is abundant, but often hidden, detailed, and complicated. The Partnership puts a lens on published information and technical services to help farmers easily find and understand resources relevant to their goals, land, and operations.

Credible science is the baseline for Fishers and Farmers’ guidance. Farmer and landowner experience turns science into knowledge applied in daily life.

Successful Farming

Our goal is profitable, environmentally friendly farm operations. Every Fishers & Farmers activity, program, and funding award is measured against its potential to accomplish that goal.

Successful Farmer Leaders

With support from the McKnight Foundation we piloted the Watershed Leaders Network in 2016 and 2017. Two workshops gathered 13 farmer-led groups in 2016 to learn from each other, practice communication skills, hear from experts, and build relationships for successful long-term work in home agricultural watersheds.

Farmers from the Galena River (IL) and Kickapoo River (WI) traveled to Mill Creek (WI) to learn how they were growing cover crops on their farms and engaging neighbors in even more conservation. Farmers that attended the Watershed Leaders Network are now using a YSI water quality meter to learn about water quality on their farms and nearby streams and will use data to make more informed decisions about conservation.

Read about the activities of participating groups on locally managed pages on this website and download the Watershed Leaders Network flyer to learn more.

Funding For Farmer-Led Stream/Farm Projects

Fishers & Farmers Partnership awards funding from the National Fish Habitat Partnership-U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to farmer-led projects in upper Mississippi River Basin watersheds each year. Funded projects improve farms and fish habitat, address a root cause of watershed problems, and support landowner engagement, communications, monitoring, science, or construction.

Applicants are non-government, county, state, and federal agriculture and natural resources organizations. One-to-one cost share is required. Applications are generally due in October and decisions are made in the last quarter of each year.

Funded Projects

2017 | Kickapoo River Watershed| Wisconsin

Valley Stewardship Network seeks to create the first project and farmer-led demonstration site for the Iowa State University STRIPS (Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips) model in the state of Wisconsin.  STRIPS are an easily-integrated and low-cost management option that, when 10% of fields are devoted to prairie strips, are reported to: reduce sediment transport by 95%; reduce phosphorous transport by 90%; reduce nitrogen transport by 84% and reduce annual surface water flow by 40%. This demonstration will serve as a farmer to farmer education tool and model of sediment and nutrient runoff reduction from prairie STRIPS that benefits fish habitat, soil health, wildlife, pollinators and biodiversity.

2017 | Peno Creek Watershed| Missouri

Missouri Department of Conservation is working with NRCS and other partners on technical and cost share assistance in the Peno Creek Cooperative Partnership for alternative watering systems, riparian corridor tree plantings, stream fencing, and stream crossings

2017 | Boone River Watershed| Iowa

The Boone River Watershed Partnership includes farmers, The Nature Conservancy, Kossuth and Wright County SWCD’s, Iowa Soybean Association, and Iowa DNR working together to restore stream oxbows to create habitat for the endangered Topeka shiner

2017 | Shoal Creek Watershed| Missouri

Shoal Creek Woodlands for Wildlife (SCWW) Partnership will implement objectives that benefit stream channels, increase percolation, and reduce sediment and nutrient loading as described in the 2014 SCWW Marketing Action Plan. Proposed best management practices include streambank stabilization, stream crossings, alternative watering systems, riparian corridor planting and fencing, woodland fencing and prescribed fire.

2017 | Galena River Watershed| Illinois

A League of Women Voters is working to establish a farmer-led group in the Galena River watershed and to develop a plan to proactively address land use issues affecting water quality and habitat degradation with a focus on fish species of greatest conservation need. Building on relationships established through a 2-year county-wide water resource management planning effort, and coordinating with and feeding into a parallel IEPA-supported Galena River Watershed planning process, the farmer-led group will participate in a series of workshops and facilitated discussions in an effort to establish broad consensus and active participation in the watershed. Sampling tributaries of the Galena River will determine contaminant sources for educational purposes and inform the strategic placement of best management practices. Nitrate soil sampling for a collaborative cover crop experiment will be done to enhance engagement and expand awareness of the many benefits this practice can provide to our local streams.

2017 | Rock Creek Watershed| Iowa

Improve fish passage, stream crossing for farmland accessibility, and fish habitat on Rock Creek near Osage, IA.

2017 | Fishers & Farmers Science Team & Communications Team| Upper Mississippi River Basin

GIS/Science Team & Communications Coordinators will demonstrate science-driven and social development of fish habitat conservation & restoration strategies leading to project (on-site) & downstream (off-site) benefits to UMRB streams/rivers. The Coordinators will help guide strategic habitat conservation and enable future learning which will hopefully initiate more conservation.

2016 | Hutchins Creek Watershed | Illinois

Farmers and the U.S. Forest Service -Shawnee National Forest, U.S.  Fish & Wildlife Service – Fisheries and Partners for Fish & Wildlife Programs, Illinois Department of Agriculture, and Union County SWCD, are working on streambank stabilization,  a riparian buffer, and enhancing in-stream habitat and water quality for Federal and State fish and mussel species of concern

2016 | Boone River Watershed | Iowa

The Boone River Watershed Partnership includes farmers, The Nature Conservancy, Kossuth and Wright County SWCD’s, Iowa Soybean Association, and Iowa DNR working together to restore stream oxbows to create habitat for the endangered Topeka shiner

2016 | Root River Watershed | Minnesota

Farmers in the Root River Field to Stream Partnership (RRFSP) are working with MN Dept. of Ag, county agencies, The Nature Conservancy,  MN Ag Water Resources Center, and MN DNR to evaluate nutrient and sediment loss from the edge of fields and measure the effectiveness of conservation practices with in-stream monitoring stations in three subwatersheds

 2016 | Spring Creek Watershed | Missouri

Agricultural landowners are working with Missouri Department of Conservation on livestock exclusion from streams, alternative water systems, riparian corridor habitat, reinforced stream crossings, cover crops, and managed grazing plans to improve water quality and fish habitat

2015 | Seven-Mile Creek Watershed | Minnesota

Seven Mile Creek Partnership includes farmers, Great River Greening, Nicollet Soil & Water Conservation District, and NRCS.  They are installing water storage systems and bioreactors to reduce ravine erosion, sedimentation, and nutrients to creek

2015 | Boone River Watershed | Iowa

Farmers and The Nature Conservancy, Iowa Soybean Association, and Iowa DNR restoring stream oxbows to create habitat for endangered Topeka shiner

2014 | Rock Creek Watershed | Iowa

Iowa DNR and NRCS are working with a farmer to remove a low-head dam inhibiting fish movement, opening approximately 5 miles of stream habitat to fish

 2014 | Peno Creek Watershed | Missouri

Missouri Department of Conservation is working with NRCS and other partners on technical and cost share assistance in the Peno Creek Cooperative Partnership for alternative watering systems, riparian corridor tree plantings, stream fencing, and stream crossings

2014 | Kickapoo River Watershed | Wisconsin

Establish a demonstration site for best farm management practices, host landowner discussions about economic benefits of best practices, restore 30 acres tilled floodplain to permanent cover, conduct water quality monitoring

2014 | Rice Creek Watershed | Minnesota

Facilitate 3 farmer-led projects: install two water management drainage structures, strip-till 300 acres, plant cover crops on 200 acres. Conduct education activities including: on-farm demos, meetings, tours, and research activities to reach additional farmers

2014 | Big Muddy Wetlands | Illinois

Restore & enhance wetlands in swale & ridge topography, restore water holding capability in an oxbow lake/button bush marsh along Big Muddy River

2014 | FFP Science Team | All 5 States

Hire coordinator to locally, regionally, nationally demonstrate science-driven development of fish habitat conservation and restoration strategies

2014 | Stakeholder Engagement – Public Farm Events | All 5 States

Public outreach and engaging farmers in project demonstrations and farmer-led committee assembly (Funding from Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies)

2013 | Bourbeuse / Meramec River Watershed | Missouri

Farmers and Missouri Department of Conservation implementing managed grazing to add value to farms and reduce sedimentation, nutrient loading & stream bank instability

2013 | Boone River Watershed | Iowa

Farmers and Iowa Soybean Association, The Nature Conservancy, and Iowa DNR restoring stream oxbows to create habitat for endangered Topeka shiner

2013 | Engaging Landowners Workshops | All 5 states

Landowner engagement workshops led by Missouri Department of Conservation for federal/state/county/NGO staff in 5-state area (Funding from Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies)

2012 | Seven-Mile Creek Watershed | Minnesota

Farmers and Nicollet Soil & Water Conservation District, NRCS, Great River Greening, and Minnesota DNR installing sediment control structures and other practices to reduce ravine erosion, sedimentation, and nutrients to creek

2012 | Rush/Pine Watershed | Minnesota

Support for 40-member farmer-led council, 2 sub-watershed groups, and cover crop program to address water quality and fish habitat issues

2011 | Boone River Watershed | Iowa

Farmers and Iowa DNR, The Nature Conservancy, Iowa Soybean Association, and County SWCDs are restoring stream oxbows to create habitat for the endangered Topeka shiner

Fishers & Farmers Partnership Strategic Plan

Awarded projects are selected to achieve goals outlined in Fishers & Farmers Partnership’s Strategic Plan. The plan is updated every three years by the steering committee.