Funding for CBF Partnership to improve Valley water quality

USDA NRCS has approved $50,000 in funding to sustain ongoing partnership activities with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to improve water quality in the Shenandoah Valley.

Authorized through the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI), this project is part of a multi-stakeholder effort to target technical assistance and funding in the high-density animal production regions of Page, Rockingham, Augusta, and Shenandoah counties. Signup is continuous with the first evaluation period ending on July 15 and the second on July 29. All funds must be obligated in contracts with landowners by August 15, 2011.

“This project is a great match for CCPI because the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is committed to educating agricultural producers as well as the public about the important connection between conservation practices and the health of our communities, farmlands, and the streams and rivers of the Chesapeake Bay,” says Jack Bricker, NRCS State Conservationist.

Landowners in the above counties will be encouraged to enroll in the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to receive technical and financial assistance for livestock stream exclusion fencing and associated off-stream watering systems to reduce sediment, pathogens, and nutrients in local streams. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation will partner with local NRCS and Soil and Water Conservation District staff to work with EQIP-qualified landowners to design and install practices in the area, which is home to approximately 30 percent of the state’s dairy and 75 percent of the state’s poultry farms.

“CBF has had the privilege to work closely with many talented partners, especially NRCS, and together we’re making a difference on the ground. Through funding programs such as CCPI, there is more conservation money available now, and we want to be sure farmers know about it and have the tools and opportunity to use it,” says Libby Norris, CBF’s Virginia Watershed Restoration Scientist. “If we can match willing farmers with funding, good things can happen in the Shenandoah Valley and downstream in the Bay.”

The concentration of animal farms has led to nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and bacteria pollution in area streams, the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. Specific emphasis will be placed on small tributaries such as Smith Creek, Cooks Creek, and Muddy Creek because collaborative efforts are already underway there to achieve measurable water quality improvement.

To learn more about CCPI, contact your local NRCS office or visit our website at www.va.nrcs.usda.gov.

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