Thanks to the efforts of the East Fork Watershed Cooperative, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service recently announced that $300,000 in funding has been allocated for agricultural conservation practices in the East Fork Little Miami River watershed. The funds are provided under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Through EQIP, agricultural producers may receive financial help with conservation practices such as cover crops, nutrient management, conservation tillage, filter strips and more. Farmers in the East Fork watershed – including those in Brown, Clermont, Clinton, Highland and Warren counties, can submit applications for funding through April 20, 2018.
This new funding opportunity started with a tour given by members of the East Fork Watershed Cooperative to the NRCS State Conservationist in September. “Our tour included stops at two existing projects that we’ve constructed together with the Clermont County Office of Environmental Quality, and a visit to U.S. EPA’s Experimental Stream Facility,” said Jake Hahn, a technician with the Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). After the tour, NRCS released an additional $200,000 in EQIP funding, and encouraged Clermont SWCD to submit a request for further funding in 2018. This request ultimately resulted in the $300,000 now available to watershed farmers.
“Our research suggests that agricultural conservation practices can help prevent the harmful algal blooms that are plaguing Harsha Lake. These funds are vital to promoting these practices, which can decrease nutrient runoff, rebuild soil fertility, and sustain crop production into the future,” says Chris Nietch, a research ecologist with USEPA, Office of Research and Development, who helps lead the Cooperative and was part of the September tour.
Farmers in the East Fork watershed interested in applying should contact their county NRCS office. In Clermont and Brown counties, contact Lori Lenhart at (513) 732-2181. In Clinton County, contact Josh Wilt at (937) 382-2461, and in Highland County, call Kyle Wheeler at (937) 393-1922.