September 11, 2023
The steering committee meetings are open to the public. The sixth meeting will be announced later this fall after harvest is completed. Many of the board members are farmers.
The Vernon Fork Steering Committee continues to meet and work towards completing a watershed management plan for the Vernon Fork of the Muscatatuck River watershed basin.
The group met to work on goals that will reduce the identified pollutants that have been documented from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) most recent study, the Total Maximum Daily Load of the Vernon Fork watershed. That document was completed in 2022.
The Jennings and Jackson Counties Soil and Water Conservation District partnered together in successfully receiving a IDEM water quality grant to implement improvements on the land, which will help restore and protect the water quality in the streams and the river of the Vernon Fork Muscatatuck watershed.
All watersheds contain natural elements of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, as well as different bacteria. As humans live and work the land, we add more nutrients and bacteria to the system, and that system can become saturated with one or more elements. Implementing a watershed plan helps reduce some of the elevated elements.
The Vernon Fork Steering Committee met for the 4th time on June 22nd at the Jennings County Public Library. The reason for the meeting was to continue to build a "Watershed Plan" for the Vernon Fork of the Muscatatuck watershed basin.
The group has reviewed the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's (IDEM) Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study, which did chemical and biological testing at 25 sites. The Steering Committee reviewed all of the results.
They then set targets for nitrogen, phosphorus, e-coli and other pollutants found from the study.
A watershed survey was conducted with a motor vehicle to identify sites where improvements can be made.
And at this past meeting, the Steering Committee has identified critical and non-critical areas within the watershed. These items are required by IDEM as part of a watershed plan. At the next meeting the Steering Committee will set goals, discuss a watershed logo and conservation practices.