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USDA’s Chesapeake Bay Accomplishments Making a Difference in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Updated 07/11/2012

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Molly McDonough
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                Landowners using financial, technical assistance to improve water quality

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2012 � USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has achieved historic levels of conservation implementation in the Chesapeake Bay watershed during the past two fiscal years, leading to water quality improvements, wildlife habitat enhancement and support of rural economies, Chief Dave White announced today. In fiscal years 2010 and 2011, NRCS helped Chesapeake Bay farmers, forest landowners and other partners voluntarily install conservation practices or actions on a total of 650,000 acres of working lands.

Since 2004, NRCS has provided more than $500 million to help farmers install or apply conservation practices. In addition, the 2008 Farm Bill provided assistance to farmers and forest landowners through the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI), which focuses funding and other resources on priority areas identified by NRCS and its partners. Through the use of CBWI and other Farm Bill programs, NRCS staff helped landowners to voluntarily implement over 60,000 new conservation practices in the watershed in fiscal year 2011.

“We believe that a thriving and sustainable agricultural sector is critical to restoring the Chesapeake Bay,” White said. “We are working with better scientific tools that are helping us to target the right conservation practices in the right locations to achieve maximum water quality improvements.”

NRCS staff has helped landowners voluntarily apply or construct the following conservation practices in priority watersheds and across the Chesapeake Bay region:

  • 262 new waste storage facilities to help farmers manage manure

  • 151,689 acres of nutrient management to improve the rate, timing and method of nutrient application
  • 7,114 acres of access control to exclude livestock from streams
  • 121,573 acres of reduced tillage to reduce soil erosion and improve soil quality
  • 136,501 acres of cover crop to reduce nutrient losses
  • 65,317 feet of terraces to control soil erosion

NRCS has named a new coordinator and science advisor who will work together to help the agency build on its recent accomplishments. Newly named Chesapeake Bay Coordinator Nona Darrell McCoy of Washington, D.C. and Science Advisor Curtis Dell of Pennsylvania will further NRCS’s efforts to help agricultural and forest landowners improve water quality in the six-state Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

“These two positions are essential to ensuring that NRCS continues to pursue effective and innovative solutions in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed,” White said.

As coordinator, McCoy will work with partners and other stakeholders to ensure NRCS’ conservation programs continue to help agricultural and forest landowners improve water quality in the six-state Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Chesapeake Bay Watershed covers all or parts of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Prior to assuming her new position, McCoy worked on conservation issues in the U.S. House of Representatives, including serving as staff director for the Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research Subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture. In that position, she was instrumental in developing policy for several titles of the 2008 Farm Bill, including the conservation title. Prior to that, she worked for Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Congressman Collin Peterson, D-MN) and Congressman Tim Holden (D-PA). McCoy, a Kentucky native, received her undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky and a graduate degree from Georgetown University.

Dell is a Ph.D research soil scientist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit and an adjunct professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Science at Penn State University. Dell is on assignment with NRCS for one year with an option to extend for additional year.

Dell has worked as a research soil scientist with ARS at Penn State University for the past 11 years. His research focuses on carbon and nitrogen cycling in manure-amended and pasture soils and the impact of nutrient management on water and air quality. Dell, an Indiana native, has a B.S. in agronomy and an M.S. in soil microbiology, both from Purdue University in Indiana. He received his Ph.D. in soil microbiology from Kansas State University. As science advisor, Dell will evaluate and assess the science being used by NRCS and its partners in the Chesapeake Bay. He will also explore emerging approaches and technologies that may be brought to bear on the Chesapeake Bay.

To learn more about NRCS’s role in the Chesapeake Bay, please visit:


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