Cooperatove Conservation Project

CF Industries National Watershed Award

Recognizing Inspired People and Unique Programs to Protect Watersheds

Location: National

Project Summary: The CF Industries National Watershed Award recognizes outstanding community watershed protection efforts. The award focuses on innovative, non-regulatory approaches to improving water quality.
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Adobe Creek Restoration Project student volunteers
Resource Challenge

The CF Industries National Watershed Award—the first of its kind in America—is an outgrowth of the National Forum on Nonpoint Source Pollution, convened by the National Geographic Society and The Conservation Fund.

Launched in 1996, the award is sponsored by CF Industries in collaboration with The Conservation Fund. Three communities and one corporation are honored annually for innovative local partnerships that seek to improve water quality by balancing a watershed's environmental and economic needs and by emphasizing economic incentives, voluntary initiatives and education.

The goal of the National Forum was to identify and implement innovative, non-regulatory solutions to "nonpoint source pollution" -- runoff from farms, construction sites, lawns and parking lots -- based on economic incentives, voluntary initiatives and education. In addition to the CF Industries National Watershed Award, the National Forum launched 25 outstanding demonstration projects across America backed by more than $10 million in private capital.

Participants in the National Forum included the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, three governors, national leaders from agriculture and farmer cooperatives, and leaders of the business, government, environmental and foundation communities. CF Industries was a National Forum participant.

Each year, applications are received from watershed groups around the country. To be eligible, programs must have been operating for at least one year so that their success can be verified, and must exceed minimum legal requirements or existing regulations. Only working programs, not products or individuals, are eligible. Applicants are judged on the following five criteria: stakeholder representation; community outreach; innovative nonregulatory action; interdisciplinary approach; and achievement of measurable goals. 

The Conservation Fund vets all applications and selects those that best meet the selection criteria of partnership/stakeholder representation, community outreach, innovative non-regulatory approach, interdisciplinary approach and achievement of measurable goals. A distinguished panel of judges who participated in the National Forum convenes to select the winners. Awards are presented in conjunction with the Water Environmental Federation’s annual conference. Community award winners will receive an unrestricted award of $10,000 to assist them in their watershed projects.

Examples of Key Partners

CF Industries, Inc. (

The Conservation Fund

Water Environment Federation

Conservation Technology Information Center

Results and Accomplishments
  • ’03 Winner Potomac Watershed Partnership’s Growing Native Program: Volunteers for the Growing Native Program donate their time and labor collecting valuable native seed that would otherwise be inaccessible to state foresters. State nurseries and volunteers organized “Nut Patrols” to pick up almost 16,000 pounds of native hardwood seeds. From this collection, half a million seedlings will be planted in stream and river-side reforestation projects this year. 
  • ’03 Winner Kansas State University ’s Kansas Environmental Leadership Program (KELP): KELP is a ten-month-long program that focuses on enabling citizens to become better versed in environmental knowledge and hone their leadership skills. Participants are encouraged to participate in a variety of Applied Leadership Projects to gain practical experience. “Gratemates and Classmates” was one such project; 100 middle school students were involved in installing and monitoring storm drains to evaluate and demonstrate nonpoint source pollution. 
  • ’03 Winner Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership: This partnership works to protect and restore the nationally significant lower Columbia River and estuary. Their annual Snapshot Monitoring Event draws over 500 volunteers to monitor basic water quality parameters over a two-day period. Elsewhere, project volunteers map habitat, education program volunteers assist with field trips, and water trail volunteers inventory access sites. 
  • ’03 Winner General Motors GREEN Program: Since the 1980s GM has supported the efforts of the Global Rivers Environmental Education Network (GREEN) by providing employee mentors and financial support to watershed education efforts. In 1999 Earth Force took over GREEN and expanded the program. The program engages GM plants, products, educators and young people across the U.S. and Canada to clean up our rivers. In 2002, 186 educators and approximately 5,580 young people participated in projects to improve the health of their watersheds. 
  • '02 Winner Adobe Creek Restoration Project student volunteers have turned a once lifeless waterway into a destination for spawning steelhead trout and Chinook salmon by restoring creek habitat. Students launched a successful four-year campaign to raise enough money to build and operate a state-of-the-art fish hatchery on the high school campus.  
  • ’02 Winner The Indiana Core 4 Conservation Project has shown that four simple practices can reduce polluted runoff, improve soil quality, and improve fish and wildlife habitat. Participants in the program have prevented nearly 1,500 tons of sediment, 1,500 pounds of nitrogen and 3,000 pounds of phosphorous each year from reaching the Lower White River and Eel/Big Walnut River. 
  • ’02 Winner The Lititz Run Watershed Alliance has opened three miles of stream for catch and release fly-fishing, added eleven acres of wetlands, and established four miles of new riparian buffers. Broad community support resulted in ninety-percent of the property owners along Lititz Run Creek participating in the program. Improvements to the stream and the watershed have also attracted a new colony of black crowned night herons. 
  • ’02 Winner Arkansas’ R.I.C.E. Project works with rice farmers to implement best winter conservation practices in order to provide a vital food source for migrating and wintering waterfowl. In addition to the benefits to waterfowl and wildlife, R.I.C.E’s conservation practices reduce sedimentation, trap pollutants and improve water quality. To date, 262 farms, covering 171,000 acres, have enrolled in the program and are implementing best winter conservation practices. The Duck Creek Watershed Management Project has become a national demonstration site to display stream and wetland technology. 
  •  ’01 Winner Tri-State Water Quality Council volunteers stretch across a 500-mile long area from Butte, Mont. , to the Idaho Panhandle, to northeastern Washington to protect the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Watershed. 
  • ’01 Winner Alliant Energy chose to establish preserves in southern Wisconsin instead of selling the land for development. 
  •  ’01 Winner The Lake Champlain Water Basin Program estimates it will achieve a 38.8 metric ton reduction in phosphate runoff into the basin because of several innovative initiatives. 
  • ’00 Winner Chain of Lakes Water Partnership targets homeowners through a variety of outreach methods to convey messages about the importance of water quality and steps citizens can take to improve their watershed. Several of these materials have been duplicated and modified for use by other watersheds in Minnesota and other parts of the Nation. Through the program’s assertive efforts to create wetlands, restore degraded shorelines, and improve storm water management practices, water quality monitoring results from Cedar Lake have been the highest quality documented in thirty years. 
  • ’00 Winner The Careless Creek Watershed Team of state agencies and local volunteers have implemented a comprehensive monitoring plan to ensure project success and the results speak for themselves: 37,000 feet of stream bank restored, 19% improvement in riparian habitat health, and a 25% reduction in sediment delivery to the Musselshell River. Most importantly, the success of this project has encouraged the development of other watershed groups in central Montana . 
  • '00 Winner The Sugar Creek Watershed Program has drawn on the expertise of resource specialists, including three Soil and Conservation Districts, to assist 117 landowners in implementing best management practices ranging from filter strip and terrace system construction to wildlife plan and species survey development. Even more impressive is the program’s community outreach program that educates and inspires landowners, teachers and students through newsletters, workshops, field trips and "Stream Teams." 
  • ’00 Winner The Tampa Bay Estuary Program has developed a management plan that divides the bay's most pressing problems into six action plans with over one hundred projects aimed at improving water and sediment quality; restoring critical habitat; improving the health of the bay's fish and wildlife populations; developing a long-range dredging plan; and improving spill prevention and response throughout the bay. Among its successes, the program has exceeded the total nitrogen reduction goal by sixty percent over the last several years. 
  • 1999 Winner The Sun River Watershed Project was organized to voluntarily deal with natural resource concerns such as water rights, erosion causes and effects, water for fisheries, water quality conditions and recreational needs. Workers in this project have reduced the sediment load into the river by 75% by restoring 21,000 feet of stream bank, released thousands of insects for noxious weed control and lined 1,800 feet of irrigation canals to improve irrigation efficiency. 
  • 1999 Winner The Friends of the Chicago River 's North Branch Watershed Project involves over 2,500 students and 100 teachers in ongoing education. The Friends recently published an urban watershed planning guide handbook, designed to assist other urban communities in collaborative rehabilitation activities. 
  • 1999 Winner The Friends of the Rappahannock have developed several innovative programs throughout their watershed: Growing Greener, Conservation Through Cooperation and Bring the Dam Down are three targeted partnerships run by volunteers in the Rappahannock-Rapidan Watershed Partnerships. The Friends of the Rappahannock also worked with developers, site engineers and county government to implement a state-of-the-art parking lot biofiltration to decrease pollution from runoff, which has served as a model for several municipalities. 
  • 1999 Winner The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative is an ambitious, volunteer driven sustainable development effort created in 1996 to improve the economic, environmental and social well being of communities in the Saginaw Bay Watershed. Under the volunteer leadership of The Dow Chemical Company, over 24 unique programs have been developed to address wildlife stewardship, land use, pollution prevention, water resources and education/communication. 

Activities and educational materials developed by award winners have been used as models for voluntary programs in watersheds across the country.

Project Contact
Jesus I Peralta
Public Affairs Office
CF Industries
1401 Eye Street NW Suite 340
Washington, DC 20003
Beth Koonse

The Conservation Fund
1098 Turner Road
Sheperdstown, WV 25443

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