People own land of different types and sizes.  Some live in a house on that land, others work and live on the land, others own property without any improvements.  There are resources available to each of these types of landowners that can help you think about how to improve and protect water quality.  The information provided below is divided into some of the common landownership types in the Aux Sable Creek Watershed.

 

I live in a subdivision or developed area

You may be thinking “What can I do in my yard to be more environmentally friendly?”  Conservation@Home encourages and recognizes property owners that protect and/or create environmentally friendly and water conserving yards.  This includes planting native vegetation, such as prairie and woodland wildflowers, trees and shrubs, creating butterfly and rain gardens, removing exotic species of plants, installing rain barrels or other water harvesting devices, and more.  For more information, click here.

List of ideas:

Keep it where it falls - Nearly 60% of rainwater that falls on your lawn washes off.  Native plants slow run off, allowing rainfall to soak into the soil.  Rain barrels collect water for use later.

Let it grow - Instead of mowing to the water’s edge, allow native plants to form a buffer along the banks of lakes, ponds, and streams to prevent erosion (and loss of property), stop pollutants from washing in and protect fish habitat.

Greener is better - Runoff from impervious surfaces like driveways and patios contributes to flooding.  Minimize its impacts by using porous materials.

Know your lawn’s needs - Excessive fertilizer washes off lawns and into waterways causing algae blooms and decreasing the stream health.  Follow the application rate recommended by soil test results or on the fertilizer packaging.  Consider environmentally friendly lawn care products.

Keep storm water clean - Keep used motor oil, pesticides, and other toxic substances out of storm drains.  Storm drains don’t go to a treatment plant, but discharge to detention ponds and streams.  Contact a local auto shop, Kendall County Environmental Health Services, a Soil & Water Conservation District, or www.earth911.com to inquire about recycling used motor oil.

Use environmentally safe products – Laundry detergents, dishwashing detergents and household cleaners all go down the drain and into our local streams.  Look for products that are water-quality friendly such as ones without phosphates.

Wash your car on the lawn – Washing a car in a paved driveway or street (particularly in a residential area) sends soapy water, engine oil, and salt residues down storm drains to area waterways.  A lawn serves as a filtering system and buffer, especially if it has native plants.

 

Inspect septic systems – If you live in an unincorporated area, chances are you have a septic system.  To ensure proper operation, septic systems should be inspected and/or pumped every 3-5 years.

 

Snow removal – Apply salt and other de-icing materials sparingly in the winter months.  Other methods may be just as effective in preventing slips, without adding chlorides to our streams.

 

I live on an active farm

Information and resources are available through your local Soil & Water Conservation District as well as the Farm Bureau that can help you integrate and improve practices into your daily farm operation.  The grants section lists some opportunities.  Below are links to several local organizations that may have more information:

List of ideas:

Continue good stewardship - Grassed waterways, terraces, nutrient management, and comprehensive livestock management and other agricultural best management practices have supported water quality for generations.

Buffer the creek - Planting riparian buffers/filter strips can reduce erosion by acting as sponges during times of high water, protecting cropland from flooding.  The watershed plan identifies areas where this type of green infrastructure may be appropriate.

Inspect septic systems – To ensure proper operation, septic systems should be inspected and/or pumped every 3-5 years.

 

I live on land primarily in a natural state

There are many reasons a family may wish to preserve their land, but the #1 reason is that they love the land. Getting the land protected is a process that can involve answering some thought-provoking questions and seeking professional assistance. Questions such as, “What is it about the land that is important to you?”, “Does the entire parcel need to be protected to maintain the property’s natural or scenic values?”, “Do you want to continue owning the land and pass it on to someone in your family?”, “Do you want to continue living on the land?”, and “Are you interested in donating your land to a charitable organization?”

The answers to these questions will guide the process and professionals experienced in preservation will help realize your vision. The Conservation Foundation can help guide you through the process of protecting your property and your pocketbook.  Here are some of the tools we use when working with landowners and other agencies:

  • Purchase at fair market value.

  • Purchase of property for less than its fair market value—a bargain sale. The difference between the purchase price and the property's market value can be claimed as a charitable deduction by the property owner.

  • Purchase of a property in which the sales price is paid in two or more installments. If the installments are spread over two or more years it may benefit the seller's tax situation.

  • Outright donation of property.

  • Donation of property at death by will.

  • Donation or sale of property with seller retaining the right to continue to use and live on the property until death---life estate.

  • Donation of a conservation easement by property owner.

  • Purchase of a conservation easement.

  • Planned giving strategies such as charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts. While these are not strictly land protection tools, they do provide financial and tax saving incentives that can help make land protection feasible.

Call Dan Lobbes or Jim Kleinwachter at (630) 553-0687 or (630) 428-4500.

 

I am a community leader (elected officials, commissioners, and staff members)

You are a stakeholder too!  You are making decisions that impact the watershed. 

List of ideas:

Engage everyone - Encourage everyone to treat water as a resource.  Involve community members in activities such as stream clean-ups and storm drain stenciling to discourage dumping in sewers.  Local conservation groups may have resources to assist.

Use conservation design - This development approach requires working closely with a site’s natural functions, avoiding floodplains, protecting high quality natural features, and utilizing stormwater Best Management Practices.  The watershed plan identifies areas where green infrastructure may be appropriate.

Keep soil in its place - Erosion from construction sites contributes to stream sedimentation problems.  Communities can organize contractor education and community awareness programs to minimize these impacts, as well as implement regulatory programs.

Plant – Trees and other groundcover stabilize erosion-prone areas.  Sites under construction should use measures to prevent erosion.  Many ordinances call for seeding stockpiles.  Make sure this is happening in your community.

Snow removal – Apply salt and other de-icing materials sparingly in the winter months.

This page lists what the following types of people can do:

  • Residents of a subdivision or developed area
  • Farmers
  • Landowners of natural areas
  • Community leaders