USDA launches $41 million initiative to improve water quality for Western Lake Erie Basin

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will invest $41 million in a three-year initiative to support the work of farmers in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana to improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB). The initiative helps farmers and ranchers implement science-based conservation measures to reduce runoff from farms entering the region’s waterways.NRCS Chief Jason Weller unveiled the initiative at an event with partners and stakeholders from the region at Maumee Bay State Park in Toledo. This initiative will expand conservation and financial assistance opportunities available to WLEB farmers and ranchers who want to take additional steps to improve the quality of the water feeding the Lake. This funding is in addition to the $36 million the Agency has already planned to make available in the basin through the 2014 Farm Bill, for a combined three-year investment of $77 million to improve water quality and support sustainable production in the Basin.“The challenges that face Lake Erie require science-based solutions and a commitment from all partners to address the factors that impact water quality. The area’s farmers and ranchers have already made great strides in helping to reduce runoff, and with this new investment they will be able to do even more,” Vilsack said. “Farmers and landowners will be able to add conservation measures to about 870,000 acres in this critical watershed, effectively doubling the acres of conservation treatment that can be accomplished in the three years.”Since 2009, NRCS has invested about $73 million in technical and financial assistance to farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin through Farm Bill Programs. The conservation improvements they have made through more than 2,000 conservation contracts now cover more than 580,000 acres. Farmers and landowners in the region have stepped up, and with their help the conservation practices these funds supported reduced annual nutrient and sediment losses by an estimated 7 million pounds of nitrogen, 1.2 million pounds of phosphorous, and 488,000 tons of sediment between 2009 and 2014. These savings have resulted in cleaner water leaving farmlands in the Basin.NRCS also today released a new report through its Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) that evaluates the impacts of voluntary conservation in the WLEB and conservation treatment needs. The report, based on farmer survey data in the WLEB, shows voluntary conservation is making significant headway in reducing nutrient and sediment loss from farms, but there is opportunity to improve conservation management across the basin and no single conservation solution will meet the needs of each field and farm.According to the report, this initiative will help landowners reduce phosphorus runoff from farms by more than 640,000 pounds each year and reduce sediment loss by over 260,000 tons over the course of the three-year investment.“Throughout the basin, comprehensive field-scale conservation planning and conservation systems are needed to accommodate different treatment needs while maintaining productivity,” said Chief Weller. “While voluntary conservation is making a difference in the basin, the CEAP evaluation tells us that there are still gains that can be made through an emphasis on practices like precision agriculture.”The WLEB Initiative is one of the key results of a series of partner workshops NRCS held in fall 2015 to develop recommendations for accelerating conservation in the Basin. The initiative further sharpens the focus of NRCS investments and helps increase the impact of ongoing work by conservation groups and state and local governments. This partnership will work with data from the CEAP Report and other sources along with the recommendations of farmers and other conservation partners to match the right conservation solution to the unique qualities of each field to maximize the impact of each dollar invested.Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $29 billion to help producers make conservation improvements, working with as many as 500,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect over 400 million acres nationwide, boosting soil and air quality, cleaning and conserving water and enhancing wildlife habitat. For an interactive look at USDA’s work in conservation and forestry over the course of this Administration, visit https://medium.com/usda-resultslast_img read more

VIC vs SA- JUNIOR BORDER CHALLENGE

first_imgJuly 16-17: Touch SA vs Victoria Touch- `The Junior Border Challenge’. Tracy Frith from Touch SA and Peter Shefford from Victoria Touch have provided us with the following report: In weather conditions (read: rain & hail) reminiscent of the northern state junior championships, the young touch stars of neighbouring states South Australia and Victoria took to the fields last weekend to battle for honours in the 2005 Junior Border Challenge…. The fierce competition between SA and Victoria which has existed for many years in the adult age brackets of Touch & sport in general, has now filtered down to the junior age level. Last weekends Junior Border Challenge saw the Under 18 boys and girls teams from both SA and Victoria compete for the first time in a 3-game series, vying for State supremacy as well as selection for the Crusaders teams to compete at the National Under 18’s Championships in September. For several years now the Open teams have taken part in the series but this was the first time the up and coming talent had been pitted against each other. In support of taking elite touch to the affiliates and hence the title “Border Challenge”, traditionally the event is played in Mt Gambier, which lies on the border of the two states. The playing arena was Grant High School and greatly supported by representatives of the Mt Gambier Touch Association and staff of the school with regard to facilities and field preparation. Given the previous few weeks of wet, windy and cold weather experienced in both SA and Victoria, all expected Mt Gambier to be no different in the middle of July. Despite this thinking, nothing could have prepared us for the atrocious weather conditions all endured including rain, high winds, thunder and hail, with two of the games temporarily delayed during play for all to take shelter while the storm passed. These rising stars also put on a display of tenacious defence, hot stepping attacking action, and of course, the games were played in the sportsmanlike manner one has come to expect in our sport. With the Opens challenge looming up in early September, it was South Australia that drew first blood in the annual interstate series, taking both junior divisions, and the series, with an overall 5-1 win rate. Results from the weekend’s games were: GIRLS 18’s South Australia (5) def Victoria (0) South Australia (3) def Victoria (0) South Australia (7) def Victoria (3) BOYS 18’s South Australia (5) def Victoria (4) Victoria (6) def South Australia (4) South Australia (5) def Victoria (4) * 2005 Border Challenge Under 18’s Girls Champions – South Australia * 2005 Border Challenge Under 18’s Boys Champions – South Australia * 2005 Border Challenge Overall State Champions – South Australia From this event the Crusaders 18 years & under teams were chosen, to contest the ATA Youth Championships in late September. Congratulations to all the plauers that took part and a big thanks to Mt Gambier Touch for hosting the event. The gauntlet has now been laid, and only time will tell whether the Vics can reclaim the ascendancy when the Opens clash down the track …..!? By Tracy Frith and Peter Shefford.last_img