2014 Conservation Success Stories

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Conservation Practices Transform Dairy into a Modern-Day Operation

The NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) helped Jimmy install a complete system of conservation practices to safeguard his soil, water, and air resources.

Creekland Farms

Andrew Kimmel of Creekland Farms has come from four generations of farming in South Bend Township, Armstrong County. Creekland Farms began their relationship with NRCS many years ago.

Golden-winged Warbler – A golden opportunity for cooperation

The Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) is a migratory songbird that is experiencing drastic population declines, largely due to the loss of early successional forest habitat used during their breeding season. Timber harvests are a practical way to increase young forest habitat and are an important tool to boost Golden-winged Warbler populations.

NRCS Helps Over 150 Homes and Properties Damaged by Storms

Over 150 Pennsylvania homes and properties damaged by Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene are receiving assistance from USDA’s Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program. Through EWP, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is working in conjunction with state and local entities to stabilize stream banks, remove debris, and reduce hazards that threaten life and property caused by erosion and flooding.

NRCS Helps Protect Properties After Storms Destroy the History of Wyoming County

In August and September of 2011, Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene left many residents in Wyoming County of Northeastern Pennsylvania devastated. Heavy rains from both storms caused the Susquehanna River to exceed its flooding stage which forced a state of emergency to be declared. Lee and Irene severely damaged many historic homes, family businesses, and other properties.

The Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, administered by the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), repairs streambanks and removes debris to protect homes and businesses damaged by storms.

NRCS Provides Emergency Watershed Protection to Northeastern Pennsylvania

Heavy rains from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in August and September 2011 resulted in the worst flooding in history for northeastern Pennsylvania. A state of emergency was declared as the Susquehanna River surpassed its record high, damaging properties, closing state roads, and displacing thousands of residents.

Wyoming County was one of the hardest hit areas in Pennsylvania. Robert Richards, owner of two rental properties along Oxbow Creek, reports that about 400 feet of the creek bank was washed away in the rear of one of his properties. “The creek came up to 18 inches below the back porch, and I lost 30 feet of the back yard,” said Richards. “There used to be stone steps, built in the mid-1930’s that went to the creek, but they were also washed away.”

NRCS Repairs Gully known as the “Grand Canyon of Morgantown”

In Caernarvon Township, locals knew of “The Grand Canyon of Morgantown.” The name was given to the 11' x 7' gully in a hayfield on the Kevin Beiler farm. The gully site is located on the outskirts of Morgantown, Pennsylvania, in Berks County.

Mr. Beiler contacted the NRCS Leesport field office for assistance.

Enhancing Penn’s Woods with the Conservation Stewardship Program

When William Penn founded the colony of Pennsylvania in 1681, he directed that one acre of trees should be retained for every five acres developed. Ninety percent of the colony was wooded in the 17th century. Today, 59 percent of “Penn’s Woods” remains forested (more than 16 million acres) and 71 percent of that woodland is held by private forest landowners. An estimated one in eight Pennsylvania households owns at least one acre of forestland. Our forests provide all Pennsylvanians with multiple benefits; however, they also face many challenges.

Several federal programs provide forest landowners with the tools to keep their forests healthy and productive. Management practices like forest thinning, tree planting, integrated pest management and many more, have very real implications for the kinds of forests our children will inherit and whether the next generation will have healthy places to enjoy, hunt, fish, and grow timber. In many ways forestlands are the natural infrastructure of our communities and if we want our descendants to enjoy them, we will have to take care of them.

Prospect Meadow Farm - A Seasonal High Tunnel Success Story

Mary Finke from Prospect, PA, Butler County has been organic gardening since the 1980s. About 10 years ago she started putting her excess, including perennial flowers, out by the roadside for public sale. That humble beginning has evolved into producing fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, and honey to sell at a local cooperative and farm market.

Mary was awarded an Agricultural Management Assistance contract for a seasonal high tunnel. Installation presented some challenges and she admits that being clueless about seasonal high tunnel installation had her anxious.

Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve

Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve is a 609-acre property in southwestern Adams County, managed for public recreation, education, and wildlife habitat. In response to large populations of invasive and noxious plants across the property, the Preserve developed an invasive plant management plan as part of their earlier Forest Stewardship Plan in 2010. Invasive plants, particularly hay-scented fern and Japanese stiltgrass, were so prevalent that the forest community was changing, with little or no regeneration by common native trees like oaks, poplars, and maples. Prior to 2010, the Preserve lacked the funding and ability to make real progress toward controlling their invasive problems.

Through involvement with both the Pennsylvania DCNR and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Preserve learned of the technical and financial assistance for forestry management available through USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP.

Small Farm Conservation Benefits Chesapeake Bay

Although Del Voight has only owned his farm for 12 years, he is not new to farming. As a professional crop specialist for Penn State University, and a long-time dairy farm worker, he has plenty of farming knowledge and experience under his belt. So, when he realized that his farm had several soil and water resource concerns, he immediately took action.

The 17-acre cow/calf beef operation located in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania is bordered by two streams. In order to keep the water clean, he installed fencing to keep the cows out of the stream, planted one acre of trees along the stream banks to serve as a buffer to prevent any nutrients from reaching the water, and installed stream crossings for the cows through USDA’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).

Soil Health Breakfast and Planter Set-up Workshop - Columbia County

Jim and Tonya Bowman graciously hosted a Soil Health and Planter workshop at their home farm in Columbia County on January 24, 2014.  Tonya demonstrated her heart-felt hospitality, along with her superb cooking skills . . . .

Field Day at a Plain Sect Dairy Farm - Lancaster County

Over 60 people gathered on a beautiful day for a Soil Health Field Day at Raymond King's farm in Caernarvon Township, Lancaster County.  The majority of attendees were Plain Sect farmers, but there were also some seed dealers and various agency representatives from the EPA, at least two different Conservation Districts, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Lancaster County Agricultural Preserve Board, Penn State Extension and NRCS . . . .