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Minutes - September 5, 2013

State Technical Committee Meeting Summary
September 5, 2013

Opening/Welcome/Introductions – Mark Smith, State Resource Conservationist

NRCS Updates – Michelle Lohstroh, Acting State Conservationist

  • Subcommittees report for program activities. 
  • We are going to have an early sign-up this year.  Programs are going to roll out during harvest time.  We have a continuous sign up.

NRCS Program Information/Updates – Dot Harris, Asst. State Conservationist for Programs

Items Discussed:

  • EQIP Regions – Boundary Changes (see maps).
  • CSP Regions – Boundary Changes (see maps).
  • EQIP Livestock Subaccounts (see map).
  • Shift from one statewide subaccount to five subaccounts.
  • Divide funds based on percent of animal units within the subaccount.
  • EQIP Screening Tool – Would like to have one Screening Tool for all General EQIP subaccounts.
  • EQIP additional 12-digit watersheds (NWQI) (see maps).

EQIP Regions – Boundary Change

  • Realign boundaries for 2014 EQIP – dividing subaccounts.  Counties on borders can go either way. 
  • Funding is based on census data and land use.  Divide funds based on percent of land use within the subaccount.

EQIP Livestock Subaccounts

For 2014, proposing to divide one subaccount into five subaccounts and spreading the funds across the state.  Use same pot of money and dividing it based on percentage of livestock/animal units. 

CSP Ranking Areas

For 2014, the CSP regions will be aligned with EQIP regions. 

National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI)

The three 12-digit watersheds used in the FY 2013 sign-up will be returned to for sign-up opportunities in FY 2014.  If funding limits which watersheds we return to in FY 2014, the subcommittee prioritized the watersheds as follows:

  1. Brandywine Creek – Broken Sword Creek (OEPA monitoring water quality in this watershed).
  2. Fivemile Creek – East Fork Little Miami River.
  3. East Branch South Fork Sugar Creek.

The subcommittee recommended that sign-up not expand into additional watersheds in FY 2014 unless it is a requirement and not to expand unless we have approximately 2 times the amount of funding available.  The reason behind these recommendations is to allow continued focus in the FY 2013 watersheds and to ultimately impact water quality in the watershed.  With this recommendation in mind, the following adjacent 12-digit watersheds were prioritized for the FY 2014 NWQI:

  • Brandywine Creek – Broken Sword Creek (041000110301) – 2013 12-digit watershed
  • Headwaters Middle Sandusky River (041000110403)
  • East Branch South Fork Sugar Creek (050400011002)
  • Upper South Fork Sugar Creek (050400011001)
  • Fivemile Creek-East Fork Little Miami River (050902021102)
  • Todd Run-East Fork Little Miami river (050902021103)
  • In FY 2012 and FY 2013, 5 percent of EQIP funds have gone to the National Water Quality Initiative.  
  • Depending on what changes occur with the passage of a new Farm Bill, we will have to review these recommendations.
  • In FY 2013, we funded all applications that we received. 

FY 2014 EQIP Financial Assistance Percentage

  • Statewide options for financial assistance percentage can be either set at 50 or 75 percent for EQIP.
  • Historically Underserved Categories, Financial Assistance set at 90 percent.
  • Group concurred to leave at 75 percent.

FY 2014 EQIP General - Application Deadline

  • Set for November 15, 2013.
  • Local Work Groups to hold meetings by October 15, 2013, to give us their local resource concerns. 

NRCS Program Information/Updates – Barb Baker, Assistant State Conservationist for Natural Resources

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)

  • Phosphorus Priority Area (most of the Blanchard River Watershed):  Ohio was allocated over $2.6 million.  Ohio received over $5 million worth of eligible applications.  An additional $400,000 was received from NHQ.  We are still obligating the funds.
  • Regular GLRI (the Western Lake Erie Basin):  Ohio was allocated over $1.8 million.  We have used all of the funds and are in process of obligating funds.

Wetlands Reserve Program

  • Ohio received an acre cap of 617 acres for FY 2013.  We returned 25 acres.
  • Ohio has offered 14 Agreements to Purchase a Conservation Easement to landowners for about 599.3 acres.   The approximate cost is$2,031,000.
  • Restoration of WRP permanent easements will be done using a cooperative agreement with a contractor to complete the restorations.

Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program

  • Matt Harbage, Program Manager, has returned from a detail to Washington, D.C. 
  • $6.8 million in 11 cooperative agreements with land trusts for a total of about 38 new FRPP easements.

Program Updates – Brandi Koehler, Conservation Programs Chief, Farm Service Agency

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

  • CRP acres approved = 317,339
  • CRP contracts approved = 37,205
  • Acres expiring 09/30/13 =  54,628
  • General Sign-up 45 results: 1.9 million acres nationwide offered; 1.7 million acres accepted; 10,000 acres accepted in Ohio - 90 percent were reenrollments.

Scioto CREP and Upper Big Walnut CREP

  • Potential for Upper Big Walnut CREP and Scioto CREP to be temporarily suspended until State can match the 10 percent (cash).
  • Upper Big Walnut CREP and Scioto CREP may be temporarily suspended after September 30.  FSA may not be able to approve contracts after that time. 

Grassland Reserve Program

  • 12,000 acres offered; $1.5 million funded 70 applications.

Special Speaker – David Apsley, Natural Resources Specialist, The Ohio State University, spoke on Ohio’s Newest Invasive Insect Pests.

Mark Smith, State Resource Conservationist

  • Two-stage ditch standards - hold meeting to go over standard.
  • Palmer Amaranth-thick weed found in State.   Looking to see how widespread it is statewide.  For seeding that comes into State - Do we need seed to be inspected by ODA when we are paying cost-share?  Group concurred.  FSA collecting seeding information. 

Next Meeting Date

  • December 12, 2013, at London Service Center.