Prairie grass planted as part of Lake Decatur sediment project

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DECATUR - A new project would allow sediment removed from Lake Decatur to be used as a foundation that would allow prairie grasses to grow.

According to Agricultural Watershed Institute biomass/watershed specialist Tim McMahon, the institute is planning to plant a cover crop of cereal rye this fall, and a mixture of grasses, including big bluestems, Indiangrass, switchgrass, and a variety of forbs, in the spring.

McMahon says those grasses could be used as a forage crop or a bioenergy crop, which would allow people to burn them for power generation and heat.  AWI is encouraging farmland owners to plant these grasses to help prevent erosion.  Officials also say the project will reduce maintenance costs for the city, like mowing.

In 2012, Decatur received a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for the sediment project.  The Decatur City Council approved a $237,000 contract in July 2014 that would move 11,000 cubic yards of sediment from the Oakley basin to the former Corley Landfill.

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