Conservation District plans six projects, cover crop incentive program with grant funding News
Clearfield County Conservation District Watershed Specialist Kelly Williams expanded on the recent announcement of awarded Countywide Action Plan Implementation grants.
The state Dept. of Environmental Protection announced it awarded $12.2 million in grants to county groups throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The funds help support team efforts in reducing nutrient and sediment pollution for local waterways.
Clearfield County Conservation District received $117,404, “which is good, but it’s quite a significant decrease from what we got last year, which was $248,691,” Williams said.
Using these funds, the district has planned three farm projects and three stream projects. It will also continue the cover crop reimbursement program this year.
Last year’s projects were mostly completed although one project ran into weather issues. “When it freezes up, it’s hard to do concrete work,” Williams said. “But that’s okay, we got 10 other projects done. I’m pretty proud.”
Williams also gave a refresher on the cover crop incentive program. Farmers may take advantage of this reimbursement program. There are various categories for what can be planted and when. Farmers enter a contract with the district that will eventually reimburse to a certain point upon verifying the planting.
“We didn’t necessarily pay 100% for everything, but at least it covers some of the seed costs for them to install the cover crop,” Williams said.
Last year, the district initially set aside $10,000 for the program and then bumped this figure up to $18,000. It used somewhere around $12,000 to $14,000 of the funds. Less than 10 farmers took advantage of the program.
Cover crops benefit the environment by capturing unused nutrients. They improve soil health and aid in improving infiltration rates, which represent how fast water enters the soil. Officials noted farms that utilize cover crops stand out.
“I’m far from even saying I’m knowledgeable about agriculture,” said Chairman Mike Gill, “but in doing the dirt and gravel surveys, I’ve been around the county quite a bit in the last several weeks and it’s very easy to tell who has cover crops in the ground.”