A new program will soon be available to help Clermont County farmers apply conservation practices to reduce the runoff of sediments and nutrients in the East Fork Lake watershed. The Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) was recently awarded a five-year, $600,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Resource Conservation Partnership Program. Clermont SWCD was one of only two districts in Ohio to receive funding through this nationwide $370 million grant.
Under the grant, farmers in the drainage area upstream of the lake will be eligible to receive financial assistance to plant cover crops, filter strips, grassed waterways and other methods that help hold soil on the farm and prevent nutrients and other pollutants from washing into nearby waterways that eventually drain to the lake. Excess nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, are thought to be the most significant factor contributing to the harmful algal blooms that have been appearing each summer in the lake since 2012.
Lori Lenhart, the District Conservationist for Clermont and Brown Counties, said,
The soils in this region erode quite easily and contribute to the problems we see. Farmers do a good job with this ground. Adding conservation practices through this grant will help them improve infiltration rates and hold more soil in place, which will not only improve water quality, but also their crop yields over time.
~ Lori Lenhard
Added John McManus, Administrator for Clermont SWCD:
For several years, Clermont SWCD and its partners in the East Fork Watershed Cooperative have been working together with local farmers to improve the quality of farm fields through the use of conservation practices. As recently as 2011, nobody was planting cover crops in Clermont County. Our local farmers have really stepped up. This year, over 2,500 acres have been planted. This grant will really help us expand our conservation efforts in an area that needs it most.
~ John McManus
The first sign-up for farmers to participate in the program will likely be announced in spring. Interested farmers should watch www.clermontswcd.org for announcements, or call 513-732-7075 for more information.