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Land & Water Resource Management Plan outlined for next decade

Increased rainfall, storms needs to be addressed

The Pierce County Land & Water Resource Management Plan, created in 1999, serves as a guide for conservation work in the county. The Pierce County Board approved the fourth revision to the plan at its Oct. 26 meeting, which will guide land conservation staff in its natural resource management for the next decade.

Land Conservation Director Rod Webb said Pierce County’s natural resource issues have remained fairly consistent over the years; he listed nutrient and sediment delivery to surface waters, groundwater contamination, and soil productivity reduction and prime farmland loss due to housing and business developments as main threats. However, changes in weather cycles in the last decade are cause for concern and examination as huge rain events are becoming more common, Webb said.

Reducing the intensity and damage caused by run-off rain events and improving infiltration will protect ground and surface water quality, agricultural productivity, recreation opportunities, public infrastructure and property values.

Pierce County has seen many large rain events causing record flooding in the past few years, Webb said. Rainfall intensity has increased, causing erosion and record flood levels in streams and rivers. Ways to combat the effect of increased rainfalls is to implement no-till farming practices, plant cover crops and maintain grass field borders and waterways.

Webb emphasized building relationships with farmers, nongovernmental organizations, businesses and engaging with the public as keys to successful resource protection. The county uses a combination of targeted watershed efforts and a county-wide voluntary conservation program as part of its conservation efforts.

“Pierce County's landscape is very diverse,” Webb wrote in a report summary. “Approximately 44% of the acres are classified as crop land and 27% is wood land. The soils are highly productive, but also highly erodible, requiring numerous soil conserving practices to ensure productive farmland for future generations.”

The plan, which is about 95 pages long, is organized into five parts: Plan development, resource assessment; goals, objectives and actions; plan implementation and evaluation and monitoring.

The plan’s goals represent priorities for land and water resource conservation and protection in Pierce County, Webb said. While implemented over a 10-year span beginning in 2022, a detailed work plan will be developed annually to identify specific objectives and activities to reach the goals listed below:

•Water quality – improve and protect surface and groundwater quality.

•Agricultural land and soils – Encourage the preservation of prime agricultural lands and improve the health and productivity of agricultural soils.

•Wildlife, woodlands and environmentally sensitive habitats – Promote wildlife habitat restoration and maintenance, good stewardship of woodlands and protection of environmentally sensitive lands.

•Climate variability and rainfall intensity – Address the effects of changing weather patterns on land and water resources.

To view the plan, visit www.co.pierce.wi.us/departments/land conservation/index.php Supervisor Ruth Wood suggested talking more about the county’s farmland preservation goals. She said she rarely recalls hearing about zoning request denials that come before the Land Management Committee and feels the committee tends to adhere to townships’ recommendations. Chair Jeff Holst said the county plan “strongly promotes preserving prime land.”

“We as a committee (LMC) look into things very strongly,” Holst said. “Our land department is very well trusted throughout the townships. You will not find a stronger advocate for protecting land than me.”

First reading

The following resolutions had a first reading and will be voted on at the Nov. 9 county board meeting (taking place after The Journal’s press time):

•Authorize cancellation of outstanding county orders totaling $10,647.44. This includes checks from the county people have not cashed, such as fair premiums, etc. This helps the county clear its books, but anyone can request a reissued check if they find they are owed money.

•Authorize new positions for 2022 (includes sheriff’s office corrections officer starting July 1, 2022; sheriff’s office corrections officer sergeant assignment, human services nutrition coordinator, human services worker, and social worker comprehensive community services).

•Establish 2022 salaries and benefits for designated employees.

•Approve the 2022 tax levy and budget.

•Amend personnel policy to authorize implementing a tax preferred account benefit plan related to employees’ accumulated sick leave, vacation and PTO leave payouts effective Jan. 1, 2022.

Other business

•During public comment, Supervisor Paula Lugar read statements from residents Katie Pata and Juliet Tompkins asking the board to support broadband expansion efforts.

•The board voted to accept the donation of a K-9 dog and training from McDonough K-9 for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Program. The dog’s name is Jet. The estimated donated cost of the dog and training is $17,500.

•The board confirmed the Bruce Borgerding’s appointment to the Ethics Board, effective Sept. 1, 2021 through Aug. 31, 2024.

The Pierce County Board held its public budget and redistricting hearing and regular board meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, after The Journal’s press time. Check back next week for a detailed account.

November 10, 2021