WINTERSVILLE — No one can deny the Jefferson County landscape is diverse, and so are the conservation efforts by the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District.
The soil and water conservation district held a diversity tour Aug. 7 covering 120 miles of county and township roads.
One of the highlights of the tour was a stop at a cattle farm owned by Eugene Battlochi in Ross Township.
Battlochi has used cost share funding through several programs in conjunction with the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
He has participated in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, for fencing projects and improving the water supply for his cattle. In addition, Battlochi has used funding to install a heavy use pad near the barn.
“When I first started with Babo (Battlochi), he was using a bathtub with a spring feeding into it in order to water his cattle. Now he has water available in three areas on the property and electric onto the property,” said Wendee Zadanski, natural resources specialist.
In 2001, Battlochi decided it was time for action after dealing with constant mud near the barn, having to search for hours for lost calves, and seeing runoff onto his neighbor’s property.
He contacted the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District and the USDA-NRCS and they went to work designing a conservation plan for his property.
In addition, Battlochi was able to gain some funding help for dealing with overgrown multiflora rose on the acreage. He has also built an access road through the property so his cattle can be moved easily, which it helps to reduce runoff.
The project has also included interior fencing in an effort to keep cattle out of wetlands on the property.
Battlochi said he has been able to improve his managed grazing system, ultimately improving the pasture condition on his farm. He currently has two 10-acre pastures.
His goal is to break that into four pastures in the next year and install another watering spot — a pressurized trough for his cattle — so they don’t have to travel so far to get water.
Advice from both the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District and the USDA-NRCS have helped Battlochi remove grapevines and unwanted timber from the property so that the good timber on the property can thrive.
Work left to do
After eight years of work, Battlochi said the property is improving, but he still has work to go.
“This is real, true, blood and sweat labor,” Zadanski said as she explained how hard Battlochi has worked on the property.
Zadanski said more than $310,000 will be distributed through Jefferson County over the next five years in various cost-share programs.
Since last year, Jefferson County residents have taken advantage of $110,000 in grants and funding.
Other highlights of the tour included: the cleaning up of dumps in Jefferson County; the Hollow Rock conservation easement; the Apex Landfill project at the Amsterdam site; watershed management programs in Yellow Creek; and a look at the best management practices for logging on your property.