New grant will help Columbiana County landowners protect water quality

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By CAROL RODRIGUEZ

Ohio is a very diverse state. Take a look at Columbiana County. Primarily an agricultural county, our hard-working farmers make it a top producer in the state. It is also an industrial area, creating products that are shipped all over the world. It is filled with important wildlife, like hellbender salamanders, migratory birds, freshwater mussels, and fish species.

We are proud to live in this exceptional place, but did you ever stop to think about what really makes this area exceptional?

Water.

Each of us has a reason for wanting to keep our waters viable. But, we need work together to keep our waters healthy for everyone —and everything.

New grant

To address this, the Columbiana Soil and Water Conservation District has received a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners Program to support landowners in protecting water quality, which will also benefit soil health and wildlife and aquatic species.

As a landowner, your help is needed.

Here are some areas that we’ll be focusing on:

Wetlands: If you have a wetland on your property, congratulate yourself. Wetlands are important for many reasons including migratory bird, wildlife and aquatic habitat. They are necessary to filter and reduce sediments and nutrients that flow into our streams and impact our drinking water.

We will be working to restore and improve wetlands to enhance their capacity as“natural sponges” that trap and slowly release all types of water.

Riparian Corridors: The land that borders either side of the stream is the riparian corridor. Management of these areas on farms has been a major focus because of their benefit to farmers, surface waters, and wildlife.

Trees, grasses, and other vegetation in the riparian corridor are important to slow down water and reduce the impacts of erosion. Through this grant, we will be working to protect riparian areas by providing assistance for exclusion fencing and vegetation plantings.

Stream bank stabilization: A stable stream bank minimizes erosion, improves water flow, and reduces the amount of sediment in surface waters. This means more top soil for crops, less flooding in fields, and more oxygen in streams for aquatic life. This grant provides resources to these types of projects.

Aldo Leopold wrote in his essay The Farmer as a Conservationist in 1939: “When the land does well for its owner, and the owner does well by his land — both end up better by their partnership. When one or the other grows poorer, either in substance, or in character, or in responsiveness to sun, wind, and rain, then we have something else, and it is something we do not like.”

So, take a minute to look around and think about what you can do on your land. Small and simple changes or improvements can have a big impact — for you and your downstream neighbors.

This grant is one way the local conservation district is helping you make a difference for healthier waters in our community.

(Carol Rodriguez recently joined the Columbiana Soil and Water Conservation District as the Little Beaver Creek Watershed Coordinator. She grew up on a dairy and beef farm in North Lima, Ohio, and still helps out with chores when she can.)

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