NRCS Announces EQIP Deadline

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.

Erosion Concerns? Try a Riparian Buffer

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 jhahn@clermontcountyohio.gov.