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News Release

NRCS Selects Conservation Partnership Proposals to Improve Water Quality in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Contact:
Sylvia Rainford
202-720-2536


WASHINGTON, June 17, 2011— U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White today announced that six projects in four states were selected through the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative – Chesapeake Bay Watershed (CCPI–CBW) to accelerate voluntary conservation efforts toward a healthy and restored Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

“We believe that a thriving and sustainable agricultural sector is critical to restoring the Chesapeake Bay,” White said. “The unique partnership available through CCPI provides us an opportunity to show that a voluntary, site-specific approach to conservation can work very successfully in this watershed.”

The six projects, totaling nearly $3.5 million in financial assistance, are located in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

NRCS’s CCPI-CBW provides funding that allows participating states to focus financial and technical resources on private agricultural and non-industrial forest land on a watershed basis. CCPI-CBW emphasizes a “systems approach,” allowing landowners to carry out multiple conservation practices and management techniques that work together to address potential nitrogen and phosphorus losses in agricultural runoff. NRCS leverages financial and technical assistance with partners’ resources to install soil erosion-control practices, manage grazing lands, improve forestlands, establish cover crops, and reduce on-farm energy usage.

Based on assessments of voluntary conservation practices released in March, NRCS found the voluntary, incentives-based conservation approach is working. Most cropland acres have structural or management practices—or both—in place to control erosion. Nearly half the cropland acres are protected by one or more structural practices, such as buffers or terraces. Reduced tillage is used in some form on 88 percent of the cropland. Adoption of conservation practices has reduced edge-of-field sediment loss by 55 percent, losses of nitrogen with surface runoff by 42 percent, losses of nitrogen in subsurface flows by 31 percent, and losses of phosphorus (sediment attached and soluble) by 41 percent.

Below are brief descriptions of the newly approved projects:

Acceleration of Maryland Cover Crop Implementation for Meeting Chesapeake Bay Watershed Improvement Plan (Maryland) – $2 million to plant cover crops on land within targeted watersheds. Primary Sponsor: Maryland Department of Agriculture.

Implementation of Poultry Headquarters Best Management Practices within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in Sussex County (Delaware) – $715,000 to Sussex Conservation District to apply best management practices to poultry headquarters for one year. The project will address natural resource concerns such as air quality, soil conditions, soil erosion and water quality. Primary Sponsor: Sussex Conservation District.

Wysox Creek Watershed – Bradford County Conservation District (Pennsylvania) – $424,000 to reduce streambank erosion in Johnson Creek in the Wysox Creek Watershed. Primary Sponsor: Bradford County Conservation District.

Vegetative Environmental Buffers on Delmarva Poultry Farms (Delaware, Maryland and Virginia) – $200,000 to implement vegetative environmental buffers to improve water quality, intercept ammonia and particulate emissions from fans on poultry houses, and reduce associated odors. Primary Sponsor: Maryland Department of Agriculture.

Forest Foundations – Chesapeake Bay Restoration through Forestry (Virginia) – $120,000 to provide immediate and long-term protection for the Chesapeake Bay waters. This project will build and maintain strong forests in two selected watersheds that feed into the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia—the Rappahannock River and the York River basins. Primary Sponsor: Virginia Division of Forestry.

Healthy Dairies, Healthy Streams (Pennsylvania) – $40,000 to implement agricultural best management practices on dairy farms; restoring about 12 miles of riparian buffers and treating animal concentration areas and barnyards to reduce sediment and the loss of nutrients into streams. Primary Sponsor: Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Under CCPI-CBW, NRCS enters into agreements of up to five years with eligible partners interested in enhancing conservation on agricultural and non-industrial private forest lands. Eligible partners include state and local units of government, American Indian tribes, producer associations, farmer cooperatives, institutions of higher education and non-governmental organizations with a history of working closely with landowners and operators.

Agricultural or nonindustrial private forestland must be located within an approved CCPI-CBW partnership project area to be considered for financial assistance through the initiative. Funding from this initiative goes directly to producers. Project proposals in priority watersheds or in the Susquehanna, Shenandoah, Potomac (North and South) and Patuxent river basins received higher priority in the proposal and evaluation process. Individual landowners and operators cannot submit a partner proposal.

CCPI-CBW funding falls under the umbrella of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI). Authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill, CBWI makes funds available to agricultural and forest landowners and managers to implement conservation practices using a systems approach to restore the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

For more information about CCPI-CBW, please visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ccpi. For more information about USDA’s involvement in the Chesapeake Bay, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/feature/chesapeakebay/chesapeakebay.html.

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