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2012 Conservation Success Stories

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Robert Fisch Heavy Use Area and Manure Storage EQIP Project - Clearfield Co

Bob Fisch owns and operates an 87-head Holstein dairy herd located outside Kylertown, Pennsylvania.  His operation includes 393 acres of cropland. When Interstate-80 was constructed, the Fisch farm was intersected, leaving very few acres at the headquarters area. Due to the limited acres, the livestock are confined to the barnyard area for much of the time, creating numerous water quality resource issues.  Surface water flowed from the State Road above the headquarters area past the gutter cleaner, through the livestock barn access and into the feedlot. The livestock had to wade through mud and water twice a day to be milked, and were exposed to standing water when eating.  Bob had no way to collect and store manure during inclement weather, and had finally had enough of the mud and water.

Conservation Practices Provide Time Savings for Farmer - Karlin Lynch Farm - Fulton Co

Karlin Lynch and his family own and operate a turkey and dairy heifer raising facility in southern Fulton County, Pennsylvania which is located within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  The farm consists of four turkey barns and 350 replacement dairy heifers raised under contract.  The Lynch's also farm between 400 and 500 acres of cropland.

USDA Programs Help Improve Westmoreland County Farm

Helen Clevenger and her family farm approximately 187 acres of crop, pasture, and forest land in central Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Their primary agricultural product is beef cattle with a mixture of other kinds of livestock including goats, horses, chickens, and pigs. Since 2005, the Clevengers have benefited from USDA incentive programs to help them improve and protect their land and water resources.

Conservation Program Helps New Woodland Owner Manage/Improve Forest

Milton Morgan III bought 214 acres of woodland in central Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania in 1993. As a new woodland owner, he was interested in improving his property, both for future wood products and wildlife. He just didn’t know where to start. A neighbor told him about the Bureau of Forestry and Milt arranged to meet with a Service Forester to walk and evaluate the woodland.

Creekland Farms - Armstrong County

Andrew Kimmel of Creekland Farms has come from four generations of farming in South Bend Township, Armstrong County. Creekland Farms is a very successful grain operation that no-tills approximately 1,800 acres to corn and soybeans in Armstrong and Indiana counties. Creekland Farms began their relationship with NRCS many years ago.

CSP - It worked for me

Conservation is nothing new to Martin and Judy Hutira of Barnesville, Schuylkill County. Together they operate a grain and hay operation in Ryan Township. From the time Martin’s father has operated the farm, conservation has been an integral part of this family farm. Although this once distinctive dairy operation is now a commodity crop operation, the family has never left conservation practices out of the operation.

Deana Jak Project - Bedford County

The Deana Jak farm is an approximately 250 head beef cattle operation in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. During the summer months, the livestock grazed on over 125 acres of pasture and had access to over 3,800 feet of streambank along the Yellow Creek Watershed, which is a designated high-quality cold water fishery.

Ernie Derr - Lycoming County

The Derr farm is a family dairy operation milking approximately 85 animals. The lack of a storage facility necessitated the use of daily manure hauling and spreading in winter, resulting in environmental concerns and loss of valuable nutrients.

Enhancing Penn's Woods

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.

Golden-Winged Warbler

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.

Homineata Farms

John Maurer is the proud general manager of Homineata Farms, nestled deeply in rural America in Newport, Pennsylvania and located within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. John is in partnership with his mother, Beth Maurer, and their operation consists of 75 Holstein milking cows and 556 acres of cropland: corn, soybeans, and alfalfa-grass mixtures.

Manure Storage - Indiana County

Zolocsik farms is a dairy operation in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, and is owned and operated by Mike Zolocsik and his son Andy. Prior to 2012, the Zolocsiks housed a group of older heifers in a 36’ x 36’ building that had insufficient space to feed and house the cattle. The cattle were allowed to exit the building where round bales were fed on a non-stabilized barnyard. Additionally, manure was stacked outside atop a steep sloped embankment above a tributary to Plum Creek. As Andy often said, “It’s the worst area on the farm and it’s the first thing people see.”

NRCS and Partners Improve Trout - Erie County

Erie County, Pennsylvania, is known throughout the country as “steelhead alley” because it has some of the best steelhead trout fishing in the world. As a result, thousands of anglers are attracted to Lake Erie streams. Unfortunately, there is limited habitat for the fish in the streams, causing concentrations of fish and fisherman in certain areas.

NRCS Assists Snyder County Streams

In the fall of 2011, Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Lee caused substantial damage in many parts of Pennsylvania. Among the damage was severe stream bank erosion caused from rising waters that threatened many homes and businesses. Through the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, Congress authorized the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to provide assistance to over 150 projects in Pennsylvania.

Following the Storms, the NRCS Field Office in Middleburg, along with an NRCS engineer, the Snyder County Conservation District,

NRCS Fixes Storm Damages in Luzerne County

HARRISBURG, PA-July 2, 2012-In August and September of 2011 Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene left many residents in the Plymouth Bureau of Luzerne County 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 homes that were located along Coal Creek.

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.

NRCS Lends a Helping Hand to a Montour County Property

Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene damaged many properties in Montour County by last fall. With the help of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP), over 150 projects in the Commonwealth will receive assistance to stabilize streams and repair imminent threats to life and property. One such project site is Judy Brandt’s home near Catawissa, PA. Donald Murray NRCS’ Bloomsburg project engineer states, “the erosion of the stream bank was so severe that the foundation of Brandt’s house was exposed which placed it in imminent danger if another severe storm was to take place.”

NRCS Protects Columbia County Home After Storm Damage

Over 150 projects in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are receiving assistance from the
Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources
Conservation Service (NRCS) in order to stabilize streams and repair immediate threats to life and property.

The EWP Program was passed by Congress to help protect individuals and properties endangered by natural disasters. In Pennsylvania, this program is being used to alleviate hazards following Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene.

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.

NRCS Repairs Gully in Berks County

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.

Philadelphia, NRCS and Partners Working Together to Establish Pollinator Gardens in the City

Do you know that there are farms and orchards in the City of Philadelphia? Small city farms are growing tomatoes, beans, and carrots, and backyard orchards are producing cherries, pears and apples.
The roofs of buildings house beehives to increase pollination and help with crop production. The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has partnered with two nonprofit organizations, SHARE and POP, in order to help them establish pollinator gardens to help with food production in the city.

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.

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.

Winemaker Helps Reduce Contaminates in Lake Erie

Randy Graham, a fourth generation grape farmer and, most recently, winery owner and winemaker is using USDA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiatives (GLRI) funds to reduce contaminants and sedimentation from reaching the waters of Lake Erie in Northwestern Pennsylvania.

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.

Smith's Dream to Improve Water Quality Finally Comes True

Steve and Melinda Smith are the proud owners of a Dairy Farm in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. When they purchased the farm, they knew it would take several improvements to become a successful dairy operation. Located on the property was an abandoned limestone quarry that had been used as storage for liquid manure. This substantial opening created a possible threat of runoff into a local high-quality coldwater fishery stream, which is a tributary to the Chesapeake Bay. The Smiths were determined to fix this huge problem before it was too late.

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.

Multi-Generational Farm Helps Improve Quality in Wysox Creek

Joshua Ford and his wife, along with Joshua's father, Rodney Ford, operate a multi-generational family owned farm in Wysox Creek Watershed, Bradford County, Pennsylvania.  The farm, renamed to Ford Ridge in 2012, is a dairy/heifer organic operation with approximately 118 animal units.  The Fords also produce their own organic hay, on both owned and rented fields.  They have worked with the USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for many years to address concerns about the Animal Concentration Area (ACA), runoff from the barn, and Nutrient runoff.

In May of 2010, a contract was developed and funded by NRCS's Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), through the Cooperative Conservation Partnershsip Initiative (CCPI).