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News Release

Conservation Assistance Available to Farmers and Forest Landowners in the Prettyboy Reservoir- Gunpowder Falls Watershed

Annapolis, Md., February 16, 2018 — USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) added Maryland’s Prettyboy Reservoir- Gunpowder Falls Watershed to its premiere water quality initiative, which helps landowners improve water quality while strengthening agricultural operations. The National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), now in its seventh year, focuses resources in watersheds most in need and where farmers and forest landowners can use conservation practices to make a difference.

“Watershed studies have shown that targeting conservation on vulnerable acres leads to greater water quality improvements,” said Odessa Armstrong, acting NRCS state conservationist in Maryland. “This latest investment focuses on small watersheds, and the Prettyboy watershed, which runs through Baltimore and Carroll counties provides a great opportunity to work with partners and farmers to accelerate conservation efforts and deliver real results for communities downstream.”

Through NWQI, farmers and forest landowners receive one-on-one personalized advice and financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to address a broad range of natural resource concerns, including water quality. Producers can sign up for conservation programs throughout the year, but funding selections are made at specific times and the Prettyboy NWQI sign-up deadline is March 16, 2018.

Conservation practices available to producers in the Prettyboy NWQI include prescribed grazing, cover crop, pollinator habitat, grassed waterways, and tree and shrub establishment. These practices not only benefit natural resources but enhance agricultural productivity and profitability by improving soil health and optimizing the use of agricultural inputs.

The Prettyboy watershed, an 80 square-mile watershed that flows through Carroll and Baltimore counties, feeds the Prettyboy Reservoir. The Prettyboy Reservoir is one of three reservoirs in the Baltimore Metropolitan System that collectively provides water to 1.8 million consumers in Baltimore City and surrounding areas. Approximately 15% of the watershed is developed, 47% is agricultural and 38% is forest, wetlands and water. Land use changes, including the loss of forests, farms and riparian vegetation, coupled with increased stormwater runoff, septic systems, the impacts of roads and increasing deer populations, have caused concerns about water quality and the future protection of this vital source of drinking water.

Interested farmers and forest landowners are encouraged to submit an application as soon as possible for consideration. For more information, please visit your local USDA service center. In Baltimore County, call (443) 477-1231, ext. 3; in Carroll County, call (410) 484-6696, ext. 104.