COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, have secured $1 million in new funding to expand conservation practices and improve water quality in the Grand Lake St. Marys Watershed
This will be the third year that Brown and Strickland have worked to secure funding for Grand Lake St. Marys that rewards farmers for their commitment to improving water quality.
Funding will be used for the creation of buffer strips along creeks running into Grand Lake St. Marys. The government will provide incentive payments to cover a portion of the planting costs, with the rest covered by participating farmers who must meet eligibility requirements established by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The Grand Lake St. Marys Watershed encompasses 59,160 acres across Mercer and Auglaize counties in western Ohio.
Not only is it a popular recreational lake, but Grand Lake St. Marys serves as a community drinking water resource. Improving Grand Lake St. Marys’ water quality is in large part connected to proper nutrient management in the watershed and taking in-lake, near shore and tributary channel actions that will also help improve lake health.
Many livestock operators, agricultural producers and landowners are already working with local soil and water conservation districts to implement conservation practices using the financial incentives associated with Environmental Quality Incentive Program funding from Natural Resources Conservation Service .
This year, additional NRCS funding will ensure that local livestock and agricultural operators in the Grand Lake St. Marys watershed may continue their commitment to implementing conservation practices on their land.
Part of the $1 million EQIP funding available will be used to address land management practices, such as developing grass buffers, wetlands and planting cover crops
Funds will also help operators develop and construct sufficient manure storage facilities enabling operators to better utilize their manure for crop production.
Efforts such as those adopted by the agricultural community, with other measures, such as upgrading domestic sewage treatment and control, improving sediment and erosion, restoring wetlands and reducing non-agricultural nutrient applications, will help ensure the recovery of Grand Lake St. Marys.