USDA funds available for fencing livestock out of Virginia streams

usda-livestockThe USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is making $874,000 available to farmers in 21 Virginia localities who are interested in improving Chesapeake Bay water quality by installing livestock exclusion and forestry practices in targeted rivers and streams.

Offered in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), this Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project will focus on fencing livestock from rivers and streams, developing alternative watering systems for livestock, and establishing/maintaining grass or forested areas along waterways. This multi-agency project will draw on the combined expertise of NRCS, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) to conduct outreach and offer technical assistance to participating farmers.

The target area includes the following 20 counties and the City of Lynchburg: Amelia, Amherst, Augusta, Bedford, Buckingham, Clarke, Culpeper, Cumberland, King George, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, Nottoway, Orange, Prince Edward, Rappahannock, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Spotsylvania. Interested farmers should contact their local NRCS District Conservationist and complete an application by December 16 to be considered for funding.  If all funds are not obligated under this first signup period, the next deadlines will be January 20 and the third Friday of each succeeding month through early summer.

Producers who receive services from the following NRCS Service Centers may be eligible for this funding, which is targeted for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed: Amelia, Bedford, Buckingham, Culpeper, Farmville, Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Louisa, Rustburg, Strasburg and Verona.  Project funding, plus additional state funding from DCR, will cover most of the practice installation costs, offering an immediate option for farmers awaiting state funding for streamside exclusion practices.

Keeping livestock out of streams is critical for clean water. The wading animals erode stream banks and excrete waste, increasing bacteria, nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution downstream. Clean, dry cattle are also healthier and less likely to suffer serious foot and leg injuries from slippery banks and rocky stream bottoms.

“Projects like this one demonstrate the power of partnerships to develop innovative conservation solutions to protect our natural resources,” said NRCS State Conservationist Jack Bricker. “More importantly, we’re empowering communities and landowners to be more invested in keeping Virginia’s waterways clean and healthy.”

DCR is the lead Virginia partner in this tri-state project that covers portions of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.  Delaware is focusing on cover crops and riparian forested buffers; Maryland will address manure storage and management issues, and Virginia is concentrating on livestock exclusion and forested buffers.

Visit www.va.nrcs.usda.gov to get additional information on Virginia RCPP projects.



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