Conservation forum set for landowners

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GREENSBURG, Pa. — A half-day forum explaining the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program will be held Feb. 23, at the Westmoreland Conservation District, Donohoe Center, 218 Donohoe Road, Greensburg. This CREP forum will offer a variety of relevant information, including news on contracting, cost-sharing, practice requirements, and partner contributions.

Speakers

Scheduled speakers are: John Lohr, Westmoreland County executive director of the Farm Service Agency; Tom Sierzega, district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service; Krystal McCracken, loan officer with the Farm Service Agency; and Dan Griffith, nutrient management specialist/agricultural conservation technician wit the Westmoreland Conservation District.

A number of vendors also will be present at the event, giving participants the chance to learn more about their products and services. Vendors at the forum will include those who provide native plants, tree-planting services, grass seed, fencing, and general conservation contracting services.

Purpose

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program is a program in which landowners voluntarily agree to take measures to reduce erosion. Erosion is a problem that directly affects both agriculture and water quality.

It can mean the loss of important, fertile soils for agriculture, which is Westmoreland County’s number one industry in terms of gross dollar product. And when eroded soil finds its way into streams, it becomes a pollutant, known as sediment, that reduces water quality. Sediment is the number one pollutant by volume in Pennsylvania.

CREP encourages landowners to install conservation measures and to remove land that is highly environmentally sensitive, such as streambanks and steep cropland, out of agricultural production for a certain period of time.

Landowners are reimbursed for costs on most conservation practices they install, and will receive a yearly rental payment on land enrolled in the CREP program. Farm Service Agency offices in each county are administering CREP, and landowners in southwestern Pennsylvania may continue to apply to participate in the program.

Details

The forum is open to landowners and interested persons from Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Washington and Westmoreland counties. It begins at 10 a.m. and concludes at 2 p.m., and includes light refreshments and lunch. Cost is $10.

To register, contact Dan Griffith at the Westmoreland Conservation District at 724-837-5271 or register and pay online at www.wcdpa.com by Feb. 15.

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