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Shanahan Hired as District Resource Specialist
Patrick Shanahan was hired this spring as the District Resource Specialist for the Highland SWCD. He is a 2014 graduate of Hillsboro High School, and a 2018 graduate of Miami University, where he earned his degree in Environmental Science. After college he spent a year performing volunteer service projects with AmeriCorps, a federal volunteer service program. He then spent two years working as a residential solar installer. In his free time he enjoys volunteering for the local parks, where he assists with invasive species removal. He was drawn to SWCD because of his interest in the environment, food systems, and building community. He is excited to apply his skills to help create a healthier and more productive natural environment in Highland County.
Public Input Needed - Complete a Short Survey
Annual and strategic long range planning are key elements of good board governance and is the cornerstone of organizational success for the Highland SWCD, therefore we are asking for public input via a short survey. Once all the concerns are gathered from the public, they will be streamlined to provide a consistent approach to the implementation of conservation programs in the current Farm Bill and provide viable input needed to create the Highland SWCD 5-year Long Range Strategic Plan. The SWCD has compiled a list of 6 critical natural resource concerns that outlines the areas to be addressed. From the identified concerns, we ask you to pick your highest ones to help us prioritize which of these issues require our immediate attention and the ones that are less urgent at this time. We ask you please fill out the short survey below and click submit to provide your valued input.
Penn Recognized for His Service
The Highland Soil and Water Conservation District recognized Mike Penn for his three years of outstanding service on the Board of Supervisors during their final 2020 Board meeting of the year on Dec 9, 2020. Mike lives in Madison Township where he and his wife operate a cow/calf operation on their 400-acre farm. He is the President of Greenfield Research Inc and has always been an avid supporter of the Soil and Water Conservation District. The Supervisors and Staff would like to thank Mike for promoting conservation in Highland County and being a great inspiration to everyone.
Mike will be passing the reins to newly elected Supervisor Jeff Roehm. Jeff will begin his three-year term on Jan 1, 2021. A Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor is a respected conservation leader that represents Highland County residents in charting the course for Soil and Water conservation and natural resources management. As we thank Mike for his commitment to the District, we look forward to working with Jeff in the years to come.
ADDITIONAL PROJECT OPPORTUNITIES IN THE CLEAR CREEK WATERSHED AREA
The Highland Soil and Water Conservation District was granted a Clear Creek Water Quality & Wildlife Habitat Special Initiative in coordination between NRCS and its partners to deliver assistance for conservation and wildlife management practices in the Clear Creek Watershed. This Initiative will continue the conservation efforts of The Clear Creek Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to work with various partners including, Ohio Department of Natural Resources - Division of Wildlife, City of Hillsboro, US Fish and Wildlife, and Pheasants Forever, Inc. to maintain water quality, reduce soil erosion and improve wildlife habitat.
The Clear Creek Watershed is located in South West Ohio, Highland County and drains approximately 29,400 acres of land. There is nearly 16,400 acres of agricultural cropland within the watershed. The entire Clear Creek watershed is in the project area, which is unique in that it serves as the source water for the City of Hillsboro, and is the main drinking water source for 6,500 residents and businesses. The Clear Creek Watershed also encompasses Ohio’s first Bobwhite quail focus area. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife and listed partners have made sustaining the declining Northern Bobwhite quail population a priority. Within the Clear Creek watershed 9,900 acres have been designated as a focus area for quail habitat management.
This special initiative project will implement a series of agricultural best management practices to protect water quality, improve soil health and provide habitat for at risk species in the Clear Creek Watershed. It will also help protect the City of Hillsboro’s drinking water supply and provide prescribed habitat for Ohio’s diminished Bobwhite Quail population and native pollinators. Project goals for conservation practices include the installation of cover crops, nutrient management, grassed waterways, and certain prescribed wildlife management practices that improve habitat for targeted species. The project will utilize the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) to meet the project goals. Implementation of BMPs will be prioritized upstream of the City of Hillsboro’s drinking water intake and within the wildlife focus area for Bobwhite Quail. If you live or farm in the Clear Creek Watershed and would like more information on the program please call the NRCS/SWCD office at 937-393-1922 ext. 3.
The Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Brown, Clermont, Clinton and Highland counties rolled out the new Southwest Ohio Agricultural Conservation Menu (SOACM) website recently. The SOACM website was created to be a one-stop clearinghouse for all agriculture resource programs and will provide information needed to choose the right Best Management Practices (BMP’s) that will enhance your farming operation. Visit www.soacm.com for more details.
With the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) impacting everyone, we want you to be aware that the Highland SWCD office is open, with limited access to the public. We are operating under normal business hours via phone and email to help serve you during this difficult time. We have essential employees in our office daily with remaining staff working remotely for precautionary measures. If you would like to make an appointment, or have any questions, feel free to give us a call.
USDA’s Investing $873K in Highland County Partnerships to Help Protect Natural Resources while Supporting State’s Producers
Nationally, Agency Investing $330 Million in 85 Partnerships
COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 29, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is investing $330 million in 85 locally driven, public-private partnerships to address climate change, improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability, including three project(s) in Ohio. Projects are awarded through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). USDA is investing $873,152 into Rocky Fork RCPP project, led by Ohio’s Highland County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).
“The Regional Conservation Partnership Program is public-private partnerships working at their best,” said John Wilson, NRCS Acting State Conservationist in Ohio. “Highland County Soil and Water Conservation’s project will harness the power of local partnerships to help bring about solutions to Ohio’s natural resource concerns while supporting our efforts to combat the climate crisis.”
In Ohio, the USDA will coordinate with local partners on:
Rocky Fork RCPP: Highland Soil and Water Conservation District and five local state and federal partners will work with producers and landowners to protect water quality, reduce soil erosion, and provide habitat for at-risk species in the Rocky Fork Watershed. The partnership will help producers implement cover crops, field borders, and filter strips to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff, helping alleviate algal blooms in Rocky Fork Lake. Award $873,152
“The Highland Soil and Water Conservation District is excited to work with partners to enhance the environment in the Rocky Fork Watershed by implementing conservation practices,’ said Pam Bushelman, SWCD Operations Manager. “This project will have an enormous positive effect on the economic and social development of the Rocky Fork Lake region by protecting water quality, providing wildlife habitat, and reducing sediment, which will help to alleviate algal blooms.”
These investments are in addition to other partnership programs focusing on the Western Lake Erie region:
H2Ohio: The Ohio Department of Agriculture will use RCPP funding to complement its H2Ohio initiative, launched in 2019. The initiative focuses land management practice and system implementation to reduce Lake Erie nutrient enrichment. A diverse group of 20 partners intend to focus this project on farms and farmers in a 10-county portion of the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) not currently included in the H2Ohio program, thereby accelerating progress toward achieving Ohio's commitment to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Award $8,000,000
Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Collaboration: Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State Departments of Agriculture will join forces with over 30 partners to help participating farmers improve soil health and reduce nutrient loading impacts in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The partnership will use sophisticated targeting tools to work with producers and landowners operating near the Maumee headwaters, an area identified as a source of high levels of excess phosphorus, with technical and financial assistance opportunities. Award: $7,780,779
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, including those through RCPP, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including state, local and Tribal governments.
Through RCPP, conservation partners work in collaboration with NRCS to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners throughout the nation to implement systems that conserve water and soil resources, improve the health of wildlife habitats and increase climate resilience.
RCPP partners offer value-added contributions to amplify the impact of RCPP funding. These projects offer impactful and measurable outcomes. Throughout its history, RCPP has leveraged partner contributions of more than $1 for every $1 invested by USDA, resulting in nearly $3 billion collectively invested in natural resource conservation on private lands. The Department anticipates the investments made today will generate at least $440 million in additional conservation funds by communities and other partners.
See the interactive map of awarded RCPP projects here.
There are currently 336 active RCPP projects that have engaged more than 2,000 partners. For more information, visit the RCPP website.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
Ag Producers Can Help Protect Water Quality in Three East Fork Little Miami River Basin Watersheds Through USDA’s National Water Quality Initiative
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers an opportunity for agricultural producers in three Ohio watersheds in the East Fork Little Miami River Basin to apply for assistance installing conservation practices that protect water quality through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI).
NRCS conservation professionals will provide one-on-one personalized advice to help farmers determine which conservation actions will provide the best results to address a broad range of natural resource concerns, including water quality. All applications will be evaluated on a competitive basis. Applications that provide the greatest environmental benefit will be selected for funding and NRCS will provide financial assistance to selected applicants through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
Conservation actions include practices that promote soil health, reduce erosion, and lessen nutrient runoff, such as cover crops, reduced tillage, and nutrient management; waste management systems that treat agricultural waste and livestock manure; and wetland restoration that increases wildlife habitat, mitigates flooding, and improves water quality. These practices not only benefit natural resources but enhance agricultural productivity and profitability by improving soil health and optimizing the use of agricultural inputs.
“Farmers recognize the importance of water quality,” said State Conservationist for Ohio Terry Cosby. “These voluntary initiatives provide them with the tools to implement and accelerate on-farm conservation practices to improve the watershed. Local partnerships, like the one that Ohio NRCS has fostered with the area SWCDs, are invaluable in getting farmers the resources they need to deliver the greatest benefits for clean water.”
The three watersheds within Ohio’s East Fork Little Miami River Basin where on-farm conservation investments have the best chance to address resource concerns and improve water quality include:
Joint Annual Meeting Drive Thru a Success
The 78th Annual Meeting of the Highland Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) was held in collaboration with the Highland Farm Bureau on September 19, 2020 at the Good News Gathering in Hillsboro. This years’ meeting featured a drive thru set up for the safety of everyone and it deemed to be a great success with over 100 participants taking part in the event.
The Highland SWCD was honored to have representatives from the Highland County Health Department, Highland County Recycling and the East Fork Little Miami River Watershed on hand to set up booths throughout the drive thru route to educate participants and provide unique giveaways.
The election of Supervisors for the Board of the Highland Soil & Water Conservation District was also held during the Annual Meeting. There were three candidates running this year for two available positions serving a three-year term beginning January 2021. The candidates on the ballot were Dan Chambers, Jeff Roehm and Chris Cox. When the election results were tallied both Dan Chambers was re-elected to serve another term and Jeff Roehm was elected to begin a new term. Other members of the Highland SWCD Board of Supervisors include Larry Shannon, Jim Carr, and Kyle Mustard.
All Highland Soil and Water Conservation District programs and services are offered on a non-discriminatory basis without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status.