The Jacksonville City Council Monday approved $60,000 for a Mauvaisterre Creek watershed project spearheaded by the American Farmland Trust.

Mike Baise, of the Trust, previously announced an EPA grant to help reduce soil erosion upstream from Mauvaisterre Lake. The grant is a 60/40 match, so the city’s contribution could bring up to $90,000 in matching funds. The city’s contribution in 2015 may be cash, or in-kind work/services. Volunteer time spent on approved projects may also count towards the local match.

Baise leads a team meeting with farmers and landowners to identify projects to slow water and reduce runoff from farms. The team hopes to identify projects like ponds, berms, buffer strips and other erosion control devices. Besides the benefits to the farmers in preserving their topsoil, Mauvaisterre Lake (a source for drinking water for Jacksonville and surrounding homes on rural water networks) would have less siltation and the phosphorus which comes with the silt.

Along with the dredging Mauvaisterre Lake, reducing soil load into the lake will help bring back a recreational resource for Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Parks Foundation looks forward to helping with projects – like paddle-boat, rowboat or sailboat rentals; or other ideas – to encourage more use of the lake. The Town Brook is a tributary of Mauvaisterre Creek, so successful projects elsewhere in the watershed could attract funding for our urban section of the watershed.

You can help — Baise is looking for old Mauvaisterre Lake photos, to document the takeover of the lake by sediment over time. Know of any aerial photos of Mauvaisterre Lake, or other images showing where recreation used to be possible on the lake? Contact American Farmland Trust or the Jacksonville Parks Foundation with any leads.