USDA program could lead to funded county conservation
Adams County director of Soil and Water Conservation District Ryan Noblitt said on Tuesday that Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the launch of what he refers to as a, “new era in American conservations efforts” with a historic focus on public-private partnership.
Vilsack was quoted as saying, “This is an entirely new approach to conservation. We’re giving private companies, local communities and other non-government partners a way to invest in what are essentially clean water start-up operations.”
“This is a request for proposals from non-government organizations to put together partnerships to achieve clean water,” said Noblitt.
Noblitt said that Adams County officials are involved with Western Lake Erie Basin efforts which include Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. That includes all tributaries that drain water into Lake Erie, including land surrounding the St. Marys River in Adams County.
“We want to put together a proposal to get some of these funds, not only for clean water here, but to help things out downstream,” said Noblitt. “Anybody above stream can help benefit us.
“We hope that with this new type of partnership, the government can serve as a catalyst for private investment,” continued Noblitt. “Then they can get out of the way and let us figure our own way of doing this.”
Noblitt said that the Indiana portion of government allocations toward this project is $200,000 a year for three years.
“We can’t say that this funding is guaranteed, but we are very hopeful about it,” Noblitt said. “Indiana farmers can use the best management practices if we get funded. It is not certain, but it is looking good. Hopefully this money can come down to farmers in the St. Marys watershed, which would affect about three-fourths of Adams County.”
Noblitt said that ways of carrying out such conservation includes implementation of cover crops, equipment modifications to help reduce tillage and soil testing to see how much phosphorus is needed in the ground.
Noblitt said that Adams County farmers still have $150,000 from previous funding through September to assist with conservation practices.
“This program is a prime example of how government can serve as a catalyst for private investment in rural America,” said Jane Hardisty, NRCS State Conservationist in Indiana.
“Local decision making is empowered through this program, bringing together conservation groups, cities and townships, sportsmen groups, universities, agricultural associations and others to design conservation projects that are tailored to our needs here in Indiana,” said Hardisty.
“If this funding comes through, we can apply this to what are the best practices for conservation right here in Adams County,” said Noblitt.
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