By: Susie Steffensen
There are a number of definitions for sustainability and ways to achieve it. For example, one definition is, “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” Another, as it applies to nature is, “The quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.” For both of these definitions, steps taken now will determine the quality of life for future generations.
There are factors that play into the world’s ability to be sustainable, such as population growth…. energy usage….waste production… agricultural practices and deforestation…plastic use. Addressing these factors and implementing practices that reduce their effects on the environment is the goal, and everyone can do a little something to achieve this goal.
Recycling and reducing the use of single use plastic addresses the need to reduce waste. Turning down the thermostat, turning off lights, and reducing the hot water heater to 120° are ways to reduce energy consumption. Implementing best management practices such as precision agriculture, cover crops, and grassed waterways will improve water quality and help prevent erosion.
So if you are already taking action to help sustainability, thank you! Picking up litter, stopping erosion on your property, allowing weeds to grow in your yard… these things are so beneficial and don’t cost a thing. It might mean rearranging your priorities, but anything that benefits our natural world will benefit you in the long run.
For more information follow us on Facebook, as we will be posting additional ideas on ways to practice sustainable living.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced Friday, March 20, 2020, as the deadline to submit applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). This is a voluntary conservation program which helps producers make conservation work for them. Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements, or conservation practices.
Financial assistance is now available in a variety of agricultural categories such as cropland, forestry, pasture operations, and organic. Several projects are also available which address water quality, forestry management, improving pollinator populations and wildlife habitat, pasture improvements and many more.
To participate in USDA conservation programs, applicants should be farmers or farm or forest landowners and must meet eligibility criteria. Applications signed and submitted to NRCS by March 20 deadline will be evaluated for fiscal year 2020 funding.
Contact John Williams for additional information and to sign up at 513-877-3720.
Clermont SWCD, along with the Clermont Office of Environmental Quality and the US EPA Office of Research and Development were awarded the top government storm water project of the year at the 2019 Ohio Storm Water Conference in Sharonville, OH. Our project was funded by a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant and was installed in 2015. This project was funded to research innovative solutions by developing new strategies to support conservation efforts. The project involved the installation of an urban storm water detention basin into an agricultural setting. This project is currently being researched to determine effectiveness of agricultural nutrient removal.
The need to address agricultural runoff is important because of the water quality degradation and algal blooms that are occurring around the world. Nutrients leaving agricultural fields are a contributing factor to water quality problems. The soils that we have in our county are very unique to Ohio and an “outside the box” approach was needed because current management practices do not always apply in our area.
The partnership to make this project successful includes many county, state and federal agencies, landowners, and the private industry. This project speaks to the great success of everyone working together for a viable solution.
Thanks to all our cooperators for all the conservation best management practices installed this year!
2600 The Farm Fence, pipeline, HUA, watering facility
Doug Auxier Cover crop
Roy Barger Jr. Brush management (3)
Thomas Bellar Conservation cover, herbaceous weed control
Bob Bolce Brush management (3)
Tina Bosworth Conservation Stewardship Program
Cincinnati Nature Center Conservation cover
Cornwell Family Partner Cover crop
Weiderhold Farms Nutrient management, Cover crop
Charles Ernstes Brush management(3)
Bob Fee Cover crop
James Fulton Cover crop
Carlos Hamilton Critical area planting, roof and cover (2)
Hal Herron Cover crop
Ted Hollender Nutrient management, Cover crop
Rob Hutchinson Cover crop
L & L Farm Holdings Forage planting (2)
James Liming Cover crop
Mark Liming Nutrient management, Cover crop
Michelle McClain Forage planting (2), pipeline, watering facility, HUA, access road, underground outlet, brush management
Jim Metzger Brush management (2)
Jeremy Myers Cover crop
James Napier Nutrient mgt. plan
Tony Panetta Cover crop
Louis Rose Cover crop
Tim Rose Grassed waterway (2)
Verleigh Powers Fence
Don Smith Brush management (2)
Charles Stahl Cover crop
James Stahl Cover crop
John Stahl Cover crop
Robert Stahl Cover crop
James Tolliver Brush management (2)
Dave Uible Conservation Stewardship Program
Varick Family Trust Brush management (3), forest stand improvement
Laura Weber Brush management (5)
David Werring Nutrient management
Tim Werring Nutrient management, cover crop
Tony Werring Nutrient management, cover crop
David Werring Nutrient management, cover crop
Clermont SWCD, along with representatives from ODNR-Forestry, OSU Extension, and USDA are planning an open house to answer questions regarding private timber harvesting operations.
With the loss of ash trees across the region, many landowners are faced with difficult decisions on what to do with their properties. This opportunity will allow landowners to gain knowledge and meet forestry experts that can assess their situation and provide guidance on how to successfully manage their properties. There will also be opportunities to speak with an urban forester on those properties with just a few or no trees.
Please stop by our office on October 25th between the hours of 3-7 pm. Obtain maps, learn about funding for timber management and invasive control (sorry-still no ash tree removal funding), and threats and opportunities that could affect your forest.
Are you having problems with stream bank erosion? Planting a streamside, or riparian, buffer, may help solve this. Check this article for tips on planting.
If you own property that borders a stream and have concerns with the banks eroding and/or water quality, there are some relatively simple measures that you can take to alleviate the problems. Sometimes the impact is too great, and steps are needed to provide armoring or protection, but if the erosion is not too severe, riparian buffers may be the answer to your worries.
Property owners that mow or weed right to the stream are setting themselves up for erosion problems. Turf grass has very shallow roots which do a poor job of holding soil in place. As a result, there is very little under the ground holding the soil in place, and it can be more easily washed away during high stream flows. When natural vegetation is allowed to grow along a stream’s banks, the benefits are amazing. When trees, shrubs and native grasses become established along a stream, it is referred to as a riparian buffer. These plants have deep root systems which do a very good job of holding soil in place.
Buffers also provide many other benefits. They shade and cool to the stream, which helps promote a healthy and diverse fish community. Buffers are very effective at filtering pollutants such as lawn fertilizers, animal waste, and pesticides. They also provide wildlife corridors and habitat.
Clermont SWCD suggests a buffer width of 25 feet for small streams, and increasing the width as the drainage area and stream gets bigger. However, any buffer width is better than none at all. The greater the width, the more positive impacts there will be for the stream. Some plant species that will work well in a stream buffer zone include sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), willows (Salix sp.), red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), and grasses such as meadow sage (Salvia pratensis) and different varieties of rushes (Juncus sp.)
If you have any questions or would like any guidance in establishing your own riparian buffer, contact us at 513-732-7075, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since 2008, Clermont SWCD and other members of the East Fork Watershed Cooperative have been working together to reduce nutrient and sediment levels in the East Fork Little Miami River and Harsha Lake. One Cooperative member – US EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) – has developed a water quality model that is making it easier for SWCD to focus our conservation efforts.
Using data collected by various members of the Cooperative, US EPA-ORD has developed and calibrated a Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model for the East Fork watershed. The SWAT model has been effective in predicting sediment and nutrient loads from different land uses, and also in predicting the impact that various management scenarios might have on reducing pollutant loads. Already, this model has helped Clermont SWCD with several projects.
In 2011, Clermont SWCD received a Conservation Innovation Grant that provided funds for a concentrated planting of cover crops in the Grassy Run Watershed. US EPA-ORD applied the SWAT model to help identify areas within the watershed which are prone to high soil erosion, and therefore good candidates for winter cover crops. Once these locations were known, SWCD staff and the NRCS District Conservationist were able to work with producers to secure commitments to plant cover crops in these fields for a period of three years.
More recently, Clermont SWCD received a Resource Conservation Partnership Program grant for additional conservation practices in the Harsha Lake watershed. For each application received, US EPA-ORD uses the SWAT model to predict nutrient loadings from that field. The fields with the highest loadings receive additional points in the ranking process, and receive additional consideration for funding assistance. In this way, SWCD and NRCS are able to use limited grant funds in areas where they are most needed.
Through its partnership with US EPA-ORD, Clermont SWCD hopes to continue to use the SWAT model as part of future programs so that we may focus conservation efforts where they are most needed.
In October, a delegation with the China Ministry of Agriculture visited the Clermont SWCD office on their tour of American agriculture. The delegation was deeply interested in programs that are available to farmers and mapping soils, including soil health. The delegation visited with staff from our office and Lori Lenhart with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Are you interested in learning how to make the most of a few acres? If so, the OSU Extension Clermont office is hosting an eight week course just for you. Topics include: Getting Started, Sources of Information, Legal/Insurance, Financial/records, Marketing and more.
Weekly classes will be held on Thursday evenings in the 4-H Hall on the Clermont County Fairgrounds between January 12 and March 2. The cost to register is $150 for the first person from a farm and $100 for each additional person. This includes dinner, drinks and dessert each night, along with a materials binder and one soil sample evaluation.
To register or for more information, contact Gigi Neal at email@example.com or 513-732-7070.
Recently, Duke Energy and the Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) partnered with a homeowners’ association in a Union Township subdivision to combat runoff problems and beautify the neighborhood at the same time.
Under a $25,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation, Clermont SWCD worked with the Shayler Woods Homeowners Association (HOA) to install a 1000 square foot rain garden in a section of the subdivision where storm water did not receive any treatment before it reached a small creek. The garden will catch storm flows from two small drainage areas and allow it to soak into the ground over a day or two rather than running off into the creek. Along with reducing flow, the garden will help filter pollutants, including nutrients found in lawn fertilizers what can contribute to algae blooms.
Gene Benninger, the president of the Shayler Woods HOA, said “We are pleased that our community was chosen for this project. It has greatly enhanced the appearance of the landscape, and we look forward to Spring when everything will be blooming.”
Clermont SWCD offers guidance to any landowner in Clermont County, including homeowners associations, interested in creating their own rain garden. Requests for assistance can be made by calling (513) 732-7075. or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.