The Driftless Area is a stunningly beautiful, 24,000-square-mile landscape island once surrounded but never touched by giant sheets ice during the last glacial period. This area, also called the Paleozoic Plateau, has evolved over thousands of years to reveal its unique terrain – rocky bluffs, deeply carved river valleys and more than 600 coldwater springs and creeks. The four-state Driftless Area is home to many rare species of birds, fish, plants and other wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. The area also provides critical food and habitat for migratory birds.
Water quality and habitat loss pose challenges for this unique region of working farms, pastures, forests, streams and prairies. Its soils are highly vulnerable to erosion, and when soil erodes, water quality is threatened. The conversion to intensive agriculture of forests, grasslands and lands with expiring contracts through USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program further increases the risk to this delicate ecosystem. NRCS is working with agricultural producers to help protect this unique region through voluntary private lands conservation efforts.
How Does DALCI Work?
NRCS uses the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to provide technical and financial assistance to help producers accelerate installation of conservation practices. The initiative focuses on restoring coldwater stream corridors. Common practices include protecting streambanks from erosion, adding fences to keep livestock out of streams, removing obstructions in the water, adding stream crossings and fish ladders and managing habitat for wildlife.
Eligible producers and landowners can use NRCS’ technical and financial assistance to implement these practices through a variety of programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
Through DALCI, NRCS helps producers use voluntary conservation practices to conserve the Driftless Area’s natural resources ensuring economic viability of cropland, pastureland, and forestland. This collaborative stewardship provides a five-year funding source for participants. By taking immediate action, landowners and producers can reverse the decline for at-risk species and habitats, resulting in the overall health of the watersheds and their natural resources.
How does DALCI Benefit the Public?
Treating this area at the landscape level will maintain and improve its rich biodiversity. The benefits of these conservation approaches will help to restore the diversity, health and productivity of the area. Cleaner, cooler water, less erosion and more wildlife habitat will help bring economic and social well-being to producers and others.
NRCS is committed to working cooperatively with agricultural producers, partner organizations and state and local agencies to develop comprehensive landscape solutions to address the unique natural resource issues of the Driftless Area.