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NRCS to Deploy Technical Teams to Accelerate Conservation in Chesapeake

Focused Approach Leverages Resources and Expertise, Accelerates Environmental Improvement to Build Strong Foundation for the Future

Contact: Sylvia Rainford (202) 720-2536                    Print Version

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Chesapeake Bay Technical Assistance TeamWASHINGTON, March 16, 2011 – Dave White, Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), today announced that NRCS will provide accelerated and targeted technical assistance to help farmers and ranchers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed install conservation practices to improve water quality. White made the announcement during testimony before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry.

“This focused effort to accelerate conservation on agricultural working lands is part of the Obama Administration’s strategy of putting new conservation practices on four million acres in the Chesapeake Bay watershed by 2025,” said White. “While the goal is ambitious, we believe that by accelerating partnerships and focusing resources on priority watersheds and conservation practices, we can significantly reduce nutrient and sediment losses to the Chesapeake Bay.”

Through partnerships with state agencies, conservation districts and nongovernmental organizations, NRCS will deploy four teams of technical experts in priority areas. These Strategic Watershed Action Teams (SWAT) will help individual agricultural producers plan and implement conservation practices needed to address priority natural resource concerns. The teams have a goal of reaching all eligible individuals in the priority areas.

The approach leverages additional resources and expertise from participating partners. NRCS has committed $3 million dollars to SWATs in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and anticipates that partners will provide as much as 30 percent additional funding. Altogether, the equivalent of 60 staff years of technical expertise will be available over a three-year period.

The four expert teams will focus on working with agricultural producers in the Delmarva area (covering Delaware and Maryland), the Piedmont area (Pennsylvania), the Shenandoah Valley (Virginia) and West Virginia.

The administration’s Chesapeake Bay strategy was issued in September 2010. For more information on NRCS work in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, see the Chesapeake Bay Initiative.

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