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Cleaner Water through Partnerships

Big Horn River-Slick Creek/Sage Creek WatershedOne of the largest projects in Wyoming to clean up a polluted water body was completed in 2015 due to the efforts of local stakeholders and help from the NRCS.

In 2000, the Big Horn River and several of its tributaries were placed on the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality 303(d) list, or impaired water bodies list, for exceeding the fecal bacteria criteria.

The Washakie County Conservation District (WCCD) in 2013 received through the NRCS a National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) grant for $691,128, which assisted local producers with installing pivot sprinklers and in 2014 was again approved for funding to assist local producers with installing more pivots and buried pipe/gated pipe projects. The NWQI funds were focused on a smaller sub-watershed area: the Bighorn River-Slick Creek Watershed.

Work toward cleaning up the impaired Big Horn River and its tributaries began with initial assessment done from 1998 to 2000 by the WCCD.

In 2012, the Washakie Watershed Steering Committee was created and a voluntary watershed management plan followed quickly.

According to Laura Galloway, district conservation for Washakie County,

  • The WCCD implemented a Septic System - Animal Feeding Operations (AFO)/Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) improvement project in the county with NRCS grant money prior to 2008 to help improve the listed stream. (see attached map of projects) This was the start of improving the streams within the county.
  • The accomplishments and results from 2013 NWQI which included: 9 contracts with 11 pivot sprinkler systems. These systems treated 998 acres. The total cost share dollars spent was $691,128.
  • The accomplishments and results from 2014 NWQI which included: 10 contracts with 8 pivot sprinkler systems and 4 gated pipe systems. These systems treated 929.3 acres. The total cost share dollars spent was $625,510.
  • The accomplishments and results from 2015 NWQI which included: 9 contracts with 8 pivot sprinkler systems and 2 gated pipe systems. These systems treated 602 acres. The total cost share dollars spent was $569,608.

The Washakie Watershed Steering Committee: local landowners and residents, local resource professionals, representatives from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Wyoming Game & Fish Dept., Farm Service Agency, Washakie County Cooperative Extension Service, Washakie County Conservation District, The Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management, and Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts.