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Conservation Effects Assessment Project

In 2004, the Cheney Lake Watershed was chosen as a Special Emphasis watershed for study by USDA under the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). Through this program the Department of Agriculture is studying the environmental benefits of conservation practices implemented through 2002 Farm Bill programs: the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, Conservation Reserve Program, Conservation Security Program, and Conservation Technical Assistance.

CEAP is composed of two basic parts: a nationwide assessment of conservation benefits and more in-depth studies of these benefits in 20 selected watersheds. NRCS selected the special-emphasis watersheds to address specific concerns such as manure management on animal feeding operations, water use on irrigated cropland, drainage management, wildlife habitat, and riparian restoration.


Cheney Lake Watershed was selected as a special emphasis watershed to study benefits to Conservation Reserve Program acres, wildlife habitat, manure management, sediment, and nutrient loss through irrigation. The Cheney Lake Watershed was chosen for CEAP partly because of the extensive data and computer modeling that already exist for the watershed.

These watershed studies also should help develop performance measures for estimating soil quality, water quality, and wildlife habitat benefits for specific conservation practices.

The additional information that will be generated through this project will be valuable to the Cheney Lake Watershed and to every watershed in Kansas,” said Lisa French, Project Coordinator for Cheney Lake Watershed, Inc headquartered in South Hutchinson. “We want to know how to focus our information and educational efforts and our cost-share programs to achieve the greatest impact for water quality.”

“Although the primary purpose of the project is to provide USDA with an assessment of the impact of conservation practices, our Citizen’s Management Committee (CMC) will also look closely at the outcome,” continued French. “The CMC is interested in understanding the function of our watershed. They want to help their neighbors find creative ways to protect water quality and maintain resilient farms.”

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has been conducting research on most of the 12 benchmark watersheds for a considerable period of time and anticipates that watershed-scale research and assessments will be continued over many years.

In 2006, Kansas State University also received a CEAP grant to study conservation practices in Cheney Lake Watershed. A team of Kansas State University engineers, agronomists, sociologists and economists are working in partnership with watershed producers and the Citizen’s Management Committee through 2011. “This research will help determine the water quality benefits, economic impacts, and social aspects of conservation implementation,” said Nathan Nelson, principal investigator on the project. Water quality data from Goose Creek and Red Rock Creek will be analyzed to determine the effects of current conservation practices, said Nelson, who is a soil scientist with K-State Research and Extension. The results will be compared with water quality improvements predicted by computer models simulating strategic conservation practice implementation.

The project uses field monitoring, computer modeling, producer interviews, and historical data to answer three questions: 1) how do the timing, location, and array of conservation practices affect water quality at the watershed scale; 2) How do social and economic factors affect conservation practice implementation; and 3) What is the optimal placement and suite of conservation practices for this watershed?

The KSU study complements the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) study of the watershed funded by USDA/CEAP.

Other K-State researchers on the project include biological and agricultural engineers Kyle Mankin and Phil Barnes, agricultural economist Michael Langemeier, agronomists Dan Devlin and Nathan Nelson, and sociologist Theresa Selfa.

Additional information about CEAP can be obtained at the NRCS CEAP page.

Cheney Lake Streambank Erosion Report

Ephemeral Gully Erosion Report

Conservation Practice Implementation History and Trends (KSU pub)

Assessing the Impact of Implementing Conservation Practices in the Cheney Lake Watershed (KSU pub)










Cheney Lake Watershed, Inc.
18 East 7th Street - South Hutchinson, Kansas 67505
Phone: 620-669-8161 ext. 4
Fax: 620-669-5496

Cheney Lake Watershed, Inc. does not accept unsolicited advertisements at this fax number.