Welcome to the BFRWP Website!
Welcome to the Belle Fourche River Watershed Partnership's (BFRWP) Website! The Partnership's website is here to provide you with information about how you can participate in the Partnership's activities. The Partnership is continually seeking new and innovative ways to improve conservation in the watershed while promoting economic sustainability and growth.
Blair Brothers Angus Ranch to Receive South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award
Pierre, SD, April 22, 2020 – Blair Brothers Angus Ranch of Sturgis has been selected to receive the 2020 South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award®. In conjunction with Earth Day, Governor Kristi Noem announced that Blair Brothers Angus Ranch would receive the prestigious award, given in honor of renowned conservationist, Aldo Leopold. It recognizes private landowners who inspire others with their dedication to the land, water and wildlife resources in their care. The entire article is available here Blair Brothers Angus Ranch to Receive South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award
In South Dakota, the award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and the South Dakota Grassland Coalition.
Brothers Ed and Rich Blair, and their sons Chad and Britton are the namesakes of Blair Brothers Angus Ranch. The cow-calf, stocker and feed lot business spans 40,000 acres of deeded and leased rangeland near Sturgis and Vale in western South Dakota. Embracing conservation practices that enhance soil, water, livestock and wildlife has allowed the ranch to evolve and grow with each generation since Enos Blair established it more than a century ago.
The Blairs will be presented with the $10,000 award at the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association’s Annual Convention in Rapid City, December 1-2.
“The South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association congratulates the Blairs on being named our 2020 Leopold Conservation Award winners. Their operation exemplifies how cattle, wildlife and the range can mutually benefit from thoughtful management, while also supporting a multi-generational family business,” said Jodie Anderson, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association Executive Director. “We congratulate them as our 2019 Leopold Conservation Award recipients and applaud their conservation ethic.”
“The Blairs’ natural resources stewardship includes practices such as rotational grazing, no-till farming, seeding cropland back to grass and developing a drought management plan. Their commitment to conservation has proven beneficial not only to their cattle, but also to their watershed and the diverse species of wildlife that call their ranch home,” said Jim Faulstich, South Dakota Grassland Coalition Chairman. “The South Dakota Grassland Coalition extends our congratulations to the Blairs for being named this year’s Leopold Conservation Award winners.”
“Recipients of this award are real life examples of conservation-minded agriculture,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer. “These hard-working families are essential to our environment, food system and rural economy.”
Award applicants were judged based on their demonstration of improved resource conditions, innovation, long-term commitment to stewardship, sustained economic viability, community and civic leadership, and multiple use benefits.
The Leopold Conservation Award Program in South Dakota made possible thanks to the generous support of South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, South Dakota Grassland Coalition, First Dakota National Bank, South Dakota Department of Agriculture, South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation, South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks, South Dakota State University College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, SD DENR Discovery Center, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Audubon Dakota, Bad River Ranches, Belle Fourche River Watershed Partnership, Daybreak Ranch, Ducks Unlimited, McDonald’s, Millborn Seeds, North Central SARE-Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, Professional Alliance, South Dakota’s Conservation Districts, South Dakota Soil Health Coalition, The Nature Conservancy, South Dakota Pheasants Forever, Todd Mortenson Family, U.S. Fish, Wildlife-Partners for Fish and Wildlife, Wagner Land & Livestock, and Kopriva Angus LLC of Raymond, South Dakota.
Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 21 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation.
For more information on the award, visit www.leopoldconservationaward.org
USDA’s NRCS Invests in Partner-Driven Conservation Project in the Belle Fourche River Watershed in South Dakota
Belle Fourche, SD, April 16, 2020 – The Belle Fourche River Watershed Partnership (BFRWP) in South Dakota has been awarded $1.6 million of Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) funding that was announced by the USDA’s Natural Resources Service (NRCS) Chief Matthew Lohr on Thursday, April 16, 2020. The BFRWP, the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (SD DENR), and Belle Fourche Irrigation District (BFID) are contributing another $1.6 million of partner funding to the project. More information will be available in May at the BFRWP’s website at www.bellefourchewatershed.org
The BFRWP is the lead partner for the project that includes the NRCS, SD DENR and BFID. The project will work with agricultural producers to convert flood irrigated fields to more efficient irrigation systems to continue improving irrigation efficiency and soil health. One way producers will be able to accomplish these efficiencies is to convert flood irrigated fields to irrigation under center pivots. By increasing the water efficiency at the field level, the project will have effects throughout the community. This project will invest $3.2 million into the area’s economy through local contractors and vendors, including supplies such as the irrigation pipe and center pivots. Besides economic benefits, there will also be environmental benefits, for example, the installation of center pivots will decrease agricultural demand for water, which will increase the water supply available in Orman Dam (Belle Fourche Reservoir) for wildlife and recreation.
The USDA’s NRCS announced that it is investing $4 million in SD through its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). “I’m excited to announce the first RCPP awards under the 2018 Farm Bill,” said Jeff Zimprich, State Conservationist in SD. “Through collaboration and aligning our resources toward a common goal, we’re making an impact for natural resource conservation that could never have been realized on our own.” RCPP uses a partner-driven approach to fund innovative solutions to natural resource challenges. Through RCPP, NRCS and partners work together with landowners and producers to implement a variety of conservation activities that offer impactful and measurable outcomes. These projects will support diverse agricultural and natural resource objectives, from helping farmers and ranchers improve water quality, soil health and drought resiliency to protecting drinking water and enhancing wildlife habitat.
View the BFRWP Project on the NRCS RCPP StoryMap
FOR MORE INFO PLEASE CONTACT: Justin W. Krajewski, BFRWP Project Coordinator, (605) 877-2134
Download the BFRWP RCPP News Release (PDF)
The NRCS' RCPP is now a stand-alone Farm Bill program with $300 million annually available for partner-driven projects. In addition to the general RCPP projects announced today, NRCS has already awarded more than $50 million for 18 renewals of 2014 Farm Bill projects. A separate RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA) funding announcement is currently open until May 18. Since 2015, RCPP has combined $1 billion in NRCS investments with close to $2 billion in partner dollars to implement conservation practices nationwide. There are currently 341 active RCPP projects and close to 2,000 RCPP partners. Read more about the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
BFRWP Activities and Accomplishments
The BFRWP has funding opportunities for improved irrigation water management and grazing management within the watershed. We also cooperate to provide a number of outreach and education events that support no-till and cover crop practices for improved soil health. Please contact us for more information.
The BFRWP has completed a groundwater study that compiled the available groundwater data in the watershed and transformed it into a usable product. The first stage of this project was to create depth to aquifer maps and structural contour maps. Hard copies of these maps will be available at the Butte, Lawrence, and Elk Creek Conservation District offices. To view electronic copies of these maps click on the groundwater map link under the documents section of this website.
Irrigation Improvement Project Funding
The BFRWP has funding available to convert flood irrigation to center pivots and to convert open ditches to pipelines in flood irrigation systems. We encourage you to contact the Butte/Lawrence or Meade County USDA Service Center to discuss program options.
Rainfall Simulator Trailer
The BFRWP has purchased a rainfall simulator trailer intended to be used as an educational tool to teach all age groups about soil erosion. The intention of the Partnership is to have the trailer available for outreach activities in the region, including agricultural related school functions, county fairs, and farm shows. For more information please contact us.