Skip to Content

Partnerships are critical for watershed conservation

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

TWF Posted by: TWF

When it comes to clean water, collaboration is key. To solve the biggest problems facing our lakes, we have to find common ground – on land, where water quality problems begin.

That’s why TWF has partnered with Zimmer Biomet, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the City of Warsaw, and Stantec on the Native Prairie and Basin Project, an exciting new initiative. Over the next few years, the project will transform 15 acres of Zimmer Biomet property into an environmentally-friendly oasis. 

Native plants and flowers will replace traditionally mowed areas, filtering pollution out of groundwater, cutting carbon emissions, and supporting bees and butterflies. Wetlands will enhance three stormwater basins, slowing runoff to reduce flooding.

Brad Clayton, TWF Watershed Conservationist, has helped lead the Native Prairie and Basin Project from the beginning, providing technical assistance and guidance and connecting Zimmer Biomet with funding and logistical support from other partners. Clayton has worked on a number of conservation initiatives throughout the watershed. “This is one of the best projects I have been part of,” he said, citing excellent coordination, collaboration, and communication between the various partners. 

He also praised the environmental benefits of the project. “It truly spans across all areas in keeping our watershed healthy,” he said. Less mowing means less carbon dioxide for cleaner air. In fact, Clayton estimates that initially, the project will reduce carbon emissions by 42 tons each year, gradually climbing to 98+ tons annually as the plants mature. 

In addition to providing habitat for birds and pollinators, native plants act as a “giant sponge,” cleaning and absorbing water, Clayton added.

TWF Executive Director Lyn Crighton agreed. “Native plants are more effective than turf grass lawns at absorbing rainwater and preventing flooding,” she explained. “Most lawns are prone to runoff; however, the deep roots of native plants and wildflowers increase water infiltration and filter pollutants. They are clean water superheroes.”

The Native Prairie and Basin Project is part of Zimmer Biomet’s stated commitment to environmental sustainability. The project also models the kind of green infrastructure practices that help make city and residential developments more environmentally-friendly. Examples of green infrastructure include permeable pavers, rain gardens, and conversion of turf grass lawns into meadows or prairies. 

“The Watershed Foundation is leading a new initiative of the Clean Waters Partnership focused on increasing knowledge about, interest in, and implementation of green infrastructure practices in local landscaping and development,” said Crighton. Given the visibility of its location in downtown Warsaw, the Native Prairie and Basin Project will help promote awareness. TWF will also provide informational signage for the project sites to support community and corporate education.

The project began with an initial spray in mid-September, and spraying will be followed by seeding native plants. TWF will continue to offer guidance and support as the work continues. Stay tuned for updates about this exciting collaboration!

Want to turn your yard into a water-friendly pollinator paradise? Learn more here and here, or contact TWF for inspiration and assistance!