6021 Development Drive, Suite 2, Charleston, IL 61920 info@colescountyswcd.org 217-345-3901 ext. 3

Filter Strips Benefit Water Quality and Your Wallet

A filter strip is an area of permanent vegetation located between cropland or grazing land and an environmentally sensitive area, such as a stream. Vegetative filter strips can reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, and provide significant habitat for grassland wildlife. They filter runoff by slowing water flow and causing contaminants such as excess nutrients, sediment, and chemicals to get trapped in the vegetation before reaching the environmentally sensitive area. Accumulated nutrients and chemicals are utilized by the vegetation rather than entering the water supply. Filtered water then enters the water bodies.

The Illinois Vegetative Filter Strip Assessment Law provides tax incentives for the development of filter strips for the primary reason of reducing soil erosion. Filter strips do not have to be enrolled in other SWCD or USDA programs to qualify for the tax incentives, but the vegetative filter strips must meet NRCS standards and specifications to be assessed at a reduced rate. SWCDs have the authority in certifying that existing vegetative filter meet requirements.

Do you have an existing filter strip on your property?
Landowners with fully established filter strips on their land need to complete certification to qualify for the property tax reduction. If interested in applying for the property tax reduction on filter strips, stop by the Coles County Soil and Water Conservation District to fill out the necessary paperwork. In order to complete the forms, the property tax identification number for each filter strip area is needed. An aerial map or FSA farm and tract number of the location is also helpful, but not required. Once eligibility has been determined, it is the landowner’s responsibility to file documentation with the office of the Coles County Assessor in Charleston.

Could your property benefit from adding a filter strip?
If you have a body of water (creek, pond, wetland, etc.) on your property that does not currently have at least 30 feet of dense, permanent vegetation around it, that might be a good spot for a filter strip! If the area is on existing farm ground and meets a few other qualifications, it may be eligible for enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). In addition to the reduced tax rate already discussed, CRP provides cost-share for installation of the practice and an annual payment for acreage enrolled in the program. Landowners and producers interested in CRP should contact their local USDA Service Center to learn more or to apply for the program. If the land in question doesn’t qualify for CRP, some other programs exist as well. Give the SWCD office a call and make an appointment to talk to Lauren for more information.