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Rhode Island State Technical Team Meeting Notes March 2012

March 15, 2012
USDA Conference Room
Warwick, RI
9:00am - Noon

Attending:  Elizabeth Scott (RIDEM), Dick Went (NRICD), Jean Lynch (NRICD), John Obrien, Richard Blogett (Providence Water Supply Board), Heather Faubert (URI), P. Vongkhamdy, Mike Moorman, Mike Kenyon, Joe Bachand, Eric Boettger, Kevin Farmer, Paul Brule, Marilu Soileau (FSA).

Introductions, Review Agenda, and Opening Comments

Meeting was opened by P. Vongkhamdy at 9:10 AM. Introductions were completed. Principal staff will have a VTC with the Chief so they will have to leave at 11:00 AM. Article came out about USDA funds and subsidies. RI farmers do not get subsidies. RI Farmers get the conservation programs. Writer thinks that changes are needed but they did not realize that the conservation programs are different from subsidies. RI gets very little subsidies. RI does benefit from the conservation programs.

Phou says that we need to work with our partners to provide good conservation to our client. At the last meeting we had a client who was dissatisfied with the NRCS assistance. We request that our partners let us know about these types of situations before they become to big of a problem. Phou provided a graph showing how the conservation planning funds has increased while our staffing has remained the same. We are working to get new staff trained so we can better provide service. It seems we never get credit when we provide good service. Phou read a letter from a citizen thanking NRCS for assistance.

Phou stated that NRCS will have two meeting one with clients and one with partners to see how we can better work together to provide service to our clients.

Heather asked if we can have some client meeting with some growers when Leonard Jordan comes to Rhode Island. They will have an opportunity to meet at the conservation districts. Heather will work with the Districts.

Farm Bill Programs

We need to select the watershed for the initiative. We have been given a list for the potential ri watersheds. WE can ask for others if we provide justification. Eric B handed out information on the watersheds. Two watershed are on the list and two are not these were provided by RIDEM. Rich from PWSB would like to add two watersheds from the Scituate Reservoir.

Liz Scott: Section 303d defines waters that are not meeting WQ standards. Once a body is listed states must complete TMDL plans. Once TMDL is completed we can determine what are the sources of pollution. Completed TMDL with agricultural sources, Hunt River, provide focus to the Newport Water supply watersheds these are located in Tiverton, Newport. These water bodies are experiencing increase nitrogen, phosphorous etc.. RIDEM thinks we cannot wait to address these issues. Would like to add that there are other TMDL completed that identify agriculture, palmer river and kickemuit river (mount hope bay). The palmer river shellfish resource was shut down due to agricultural pollutants and other pollutants. Farms in Mass may be some of the biggest pollutants. We should give priority to drinking water watersheds. Sakonnet River, Palmer, Kickemuit, Upper East Passage.

Rich Blogett (PWSB): Rich is the Watershed Source Protection coordinator. Providence Water Supply Board would like to suggest adding the regulating reservoir since they are seeing high phosphorous levels. Both residential and agricultural land use are contributing to the problems.
Moswansicut Pond-Huntinghouse Brook.

Joe went over guidance for the initiative.

Questions were asked about how NRCS will outreach to the specific watershed. The Districts have done some agricultural inventories that will help. RIDEM will be having a public meeting to develop the watershed plans for the palmer and kickemuit. NRCS is invited to attend and make a presentation. Fruit growers have their annual meeting on March 29, 6pm Richmond Grange.

Easements: Mike Kenyon went over easements. FRPP received 9 applications, RI has 4.1 million dollars. We could get an additional 1.4 million from regional equity. Estimated value for 9 apps 7.6 million. Would be 262 acres. Waiting for the agreement template to obligate funds. GRP, have three active projects, signed an agreement for 65 acres, two other applications for 140 acres. WRP, three applications are being worked on, 2 appraisals are completed, we are waiting for one.

FOTG: Boettger and Farmer- will post Releasing notice 153 and 154- which will have a list of practices for review. Eric will post on FOTG. Will send out an email notice.

Joe Bachand went over RI Air Quality Ozone initiative, the initiatives was reviewed and the STT agreed to have the initiatives for FY 2012. Joe reviewed the CIG Rhode Island component for FY 2012, there will be approximately $125,000 available for grants. The categories for FY 2012 were reviewed. The STT agreed with the categories. Working Lands for Wildlife was reviewed. WHIP-Working Land for Wildlife which will be for New England Cottontail for Rhode Island.

Partnership Reports:

Dick Went provided updates on work being done by NACD on the Farm Bill. New England conservation District are putting together a New England Watershed initiative. The document will be published soon. Dick made a motion for NACD to vote on a resolution to allow WHIP funds to be used on public lands. Will look at changing the 50,000 annual limit for WHIP.

Next meeting: May 10, 2012 at 11:00a in the USDA Conference Room.