USDA Invests New Conservation Funds for Lake Erie

Cindy ZimmermanConservation, USDA, water

lake-erieThe U.S. Department of Agriculture is allocating $2 million in conservation funds for Ohio to help implement conservation techniques designed to improve water quality.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made that announcement this week and said USDA is also partnering with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to expand “boots-on-the-ground” capacity in the area and will be contributing an additional $1 million in technical assistance which will in turn be leveraged by the NFWF along with other public and private entities. Earlier this month, water service in Toledo, Ohio was disrupted by algae blooms in Lake Erie.

“The voluntary conservation efforts supported by this new funding will help improve water quality in Lake Erie,” Vilsack said. “Many farmers have consistently stepped up to the plate on efforts to protect our water and we want to provide support and incentives for continued action. Along with these resources, we will be offering technical and financial assistance through our direct relationships with farmers, and by partnering with private and public groups on continuing conservation efforts in the Great Lakes basin.”

The Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is accepting applications from farmers this week for resources that will help with the planting of cover crops, which experts agree offer the best protection to prevent soil and nutrient erosion in the next season. The funding will be allocated to the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) to help farmers and partners accelerate water quality conservation activities to benefit Lake Erie. NRCS will be providing up to $2 million in Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funds in Ohio for a targeted, one-week signup. This signup will be focused on planting cover crops on vulnerable soils this fall in order to reduce soil and nutrient loss from farm fields.