Posted on

SWCD seeks to continue its cost-share programs

Harrison County Soil & Water Conservation District board chairman Mike Wolfe, along with vice chair Cameron Churchill, requested $200,000 out of riverboat gaming funds for its cost-share conservation programs with landowners last month during a joint meeting with the Harrison County Council and Board of Commissioners.
Commissioner Kenny Saulman spoke positively of the HCSWCD programs.
‘I’ve seen some of the work that you all have been able to do with this money,’ he said while complimenting the district.
The HCSWCD projects discussed are cost-share projects, Churchill said.
‘We pay a small percentage,’ he said. ‘It gives an incentive to invest in this program.
‘They pay the biggest share,’ he said. ‘It’s worked out very well. It’s popular with farmers.’
‘(Cost-share programs) made things a whole lot better the last few years with you all being so gracious giving us this money. It puts a lot of farmers in a whole lot better shape. Thank you.’
The county has approved $200,000 for the program the last three years.
‘Keep up the good work,’ Council Chair Gary Davis said.
Available programs include buffers and field borders, hay and pasture renovation, forestry, livestock watering systems, heavy use area feeding pads, access roads, hay storage barns and a cover crop program.
Buffer and field borders protect the soil and prevent erosion. The vegetation also acts as a filter for the run-off water and provides cover for small wildlife.
The hay and pasture program provides for better growth to increase hay production. The increased growth of pasture not only supplies better forage but protects the water supply by filtering runoff.
The forestry program provides tree plantings to prevent soil erosion and helps productivity to ensure woodlands in Harrison County for the future and provides wildlife habitat. It also includes timber stand improvement practices such as clearing of undergrowth, invasive species removal and culling undesirable trees. This provides for better growth of the desirable species of the trees.
The livestock watering systems program assists with a rotational grazing system, provides a convenient, clean source for watering and keeps the livestock out of streams and ponds to pollute the groundwater.
Heavy use area feeding pads are popular because the practice improves water quality due to less soil pathogens leaving the cattle feeding area during adverse weather. Cattle health also is improved by keeping them out of deep mud and manure.
This conservation program not only assists the landowners participating, but provides for a cleaner water supply and conserves resources for future generations.
Access roads are beneficial to prevent erosion and soil runoff leading to the feeding pad by farm machinery. The fencing exclusion helps with keeping cattle out of ponds and streams for a cleaner water supply for everyone.
Hay storage buildings conserve hay for livestock by protecting it from weather.
The cover crop program has become popular, HCSWCD officials said, which is sowing a crop such as wheat or rye after regular crop rows are harvested. This helps prevent sheet erosion during winter months.
In 2015, 116 of 205 applications were funded.
So far this year, 175 applications for funding have been received, of which 89 will be funded through HCSWCD.