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Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - Wisconsin

Since 2010, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) has served as a catalyst for unprecedented federal agency coordination to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in Wisconsin

NRCS, along with 11 other Federal agencies, are supporting and participating in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades. A task force of 11 federal agencies developed an action plan to implement the initiative. The action plan addresses urgent issues such as cleaning up Great Lakes Areas of Concern, preventing and controlling invasive species, reducing nutrient runoff that contributes to harmful or nuisance algal blooms, and restoring habitat to protect native species. 

NRCS is helping landowners and land users to plan and implement activities to improve and protect the natural resources in locally identified watersheds within the eight GLRI states:  Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.   

Through GLRI, NRCS offers financial assistance to agricultural producers for implementing practices that improve water quality in selected watersheds. Financial assistance will come through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and will focus on reducing nutrient and sediment delivery to surface water as well as controlling invasive species and improving wildlife habitat.

The program provides payments to help implement designated conservation activities. Specified EQIP practices will be eligible for funding through GLRI. Socially disadvantaged farmers, limited resource farmers, and beginning farmers may qualify for higher program payments.


Sign-Up Information 


GLRI Demonstration Farms

Between the Lakes Demonstration Farm Network

Northeastern Wisconsin’s Manitowoc-Sheboygan Watershed is home to a network of farms demonstrating the best conservation practices to protect water sources that flow into the Great Lakes. Calumet County Land and Water Conservation and the NRCS are tackling this effort in partnership with Fond du Lac, Sheboygan and Manitowoc counties. These farmers are demonstrating conservation practices and systems used to reduce non-point source pollution. The network highlights implementing traditional conservation practices that protect water quality, while also trying and highlighting new technologies on participating farms.

Door-Kewaunee Watershed Demonstration Farm Network

Northeastern Wisconsin’s Door-Kewaunee Watershed is home to a network of farms demonstrating the best conservation practices to protect the Great Lakes. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the NRCS are tackling this effort in cooperation with Peninsula Pride Farms, a farmer-led organization. Groundwater and surface water quality are top priorities for the farmers of this network, who contend with shallow, fractured bedrock that can provide a direct path for contaminants to groundwater.

Green Bay West Shore Demonstration Farm Network

The NRCS and Oconto County Land & Water Conservation Department, in partnership with Marinette and Shawano counties, have entered an agreement to launch a new network, the Green Bay West Shore Demonstration Farm Network. This is the sixth Demonstration Farm Network in Wisconsin that NRCS has collaborated with conservation partners to establish. The new partnership will support a network of farms demonstrating the best conservation practices to reduce phosphorus and sediment into local water sources that flow into the Great Lakes. The network will demonstrate proven traditional and new, innovative conservation practices on farms that are both viable and sustainable for farm owners and the environment.

Lower Fox Demonstration Farms Network

The Lower Fox Demonstration Farms Network (“Fox Demo Farms”) is an off-site project designed to showcase and demonstrate leading edge conservation practices that improve Great Lakes water quality by reducing phosphorus and sediment from entering Green Bay and Lake Michigan. The partnership was the first of its kind in the Great Lakes region and within the Fox River Basin. Partners include farmers, their crop consultants, Brown and Outagamie County Land and Water Conservation Departments, the NRCS, University of Wisconsin–Extension and the Great Lakes Commission.

Ozaukee Demonstration Farm Network

Ozaukee County is home to a network of Demonstration Farms that are trying and demonstrating the best conservation practices to protect the Great Lakes by reducing phosphorus and sediment from entering Lake Michigan through Sauk Creek, Sucker Creek and the Milwaukee River. Ozaukee County Land and Water Management and the NRCS are tackling this effort in cooperation with Clean Farm Families, a farmer-led conservation organization. Major focuses are improving soil health and condition, encouraging innovative land management that reduces costs and increases profits and improving the conservation systems used to reduce non-point source pollution. Network farmers are working to keep ground and surface water clean to protect local streams and rivers feeding the Great Lakes.

Upper Fox-Wolf Demonstration Farm Network

Waupaca County is home to a network of farms demonstrating conservation practices to protect the Great Lakes. Waupaca County Land and Water Conservation and the NRCS are tackling this effort in partnership with Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Marquette, Outagamie, Portage, Shawano, and Winnebago counties and the Green Lake Association. This large partnership is testing the effectiveness of current conservation systems used to reduce non-point source pollution. The network will demonstrate to farmers and the public that the right combination of traditional conservation practices and other new, innovative technologies functioning on the landscape can produce viable and sustainable economic and environmental benefits. 

Wisconsin Program Contact

Melissa Bartz - Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
melissa.bartz@usda.gov
(608) 662-4422, ext. 232


Wisconsin NRCS Homepage

Ready to get started?

Contact your local service center to start your application.

Find Your Local Service Center

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit offices.usda.gov.

How to Get Assistance

Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?

Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

how to get started

To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.

NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.

We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:

  • To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
  • To meet other eligibility certifications.

Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.

Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.

As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:

  • An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
  • A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
  • A farm tract number.

If you don’t have a farm tract number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm tract number if you’re interested in financial assistance.

NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.

If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.

Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.