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Targeting Conservation Practices to Critical Areas (CSAs)

It is widely believed that a small portion of the total land area of any given watershed is responsible for the majority of the pollutants exported during wet weather events. This portion of the watershed can be termed a “critical source area” (CSA). It follows that watershed management strategies could be more cost effective if treatments were targeted to these areas.

For the Missisquoi Bay watershed in Vermont, Stone developed SWAT model simulations that used 30 years of historical climate data, and representative crop rotations were applied to the study area, in order to help inform watershed management strategies targeted to Critical Source Areas.

This study, and the promise it holds for targeting assistance, resulted in a commitment of new state and federal resources for the implementation of conservation measures. In the summer of 2012, the US Department of Agriculture, Lake Champlain Basin Program, and Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture announced nearly $1 million in new funding to support the implementation of conservation measures on priority parcels in the study area. Further, conservation partners working in the Missisquoi watershed seized the opportunity to couple the study results with the new funding, using the maps to drive more than $2 million in sign-ups for conservation programs.

See also Missisquoi Phosphorus Critical Source Areas