We are busy gearing up here for another field season! While we will be busy getting our new staff members up to speed, we will also be busy putting conservation on the ground. To start, we have received an AMA (agriculture management assistance) grant through NRCS that will allow us to help farmers get high tunnels and associated irrigation on the ground. This will help to extend the growing season so our producers can keep the fresh food coming! Along with the AMA grant, we have several current grants open that will help us with hydroseeding, stormwater issues, and more! While the weather was nice, Technician's Laura and Alice were able to inventory a few culverts using the NAACC protocol in Minerva! Check out some of the pictures below!
This summer, we have worked with the Town of Westport to conduct a timber sale on property they own in their watershed. Properly managed forests can greatly benefit watersheds by filtering out pollutants, keeping it cool and shaded, store water and so many more added benefits. This forest is no exception, and even with the lack of water we have had this year, there is plenty of water flowing through this forest. While it may seem that bigger trees, such as those in old growth forests, help to protect more water resources, researchers are finding that first successional forests (those that are cleared, such as fire or managed clear cuts) may actually protect water resources better. Don't fear though! Even if the goal is to protect the water resources in this watershed, we decided that an improvement thinning is much more suited to this landscape. There are several large trees that will remain behind, while some of the younger trees will gain some more room to grow.
Thanks to a grant held by the Upper Hudson River Watershed Coalition and funded by the Department of State, we are able to inventory culvert crossings on along roads in the Upper Hudson watershed. Utilizing the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaboration protocol and training, we are assessing culverts on their aquatic passability
(fish, amphibians, insects, etc.) and crossing condition. Once this information is compiled, we will have a database that will let us prioritize these culverts to determine which ones should be replaced sooner if future funds allow. This data also goes into a larger database that covers several states. The Upper Hudson River Watershed Coalition will use the information we gather in their Watershed Management Plan.
Tree plantings have begun! We have planted some riparian areas this week utilizing the NYSDEC Trees for Tribs program. Bare root stock seedlings, along with several planting supplies, were used to help plant these riparian areas. Riparian buffers are a great way to help stabilize stream banks and provide aquatic and wildlife habitat as well as several other benefits! You may see some of our planted areas; tree tubes and weed control mats were placed around some seedlings to enhance their growth, and flags were placed by small shrubs so they won't get stepped on and are easier to locate in the future.
Things may be quiet in the field right now, but in the office everything is bustling! We have been working with several farmers and landowners on various grants and working on applying for more grants. The piles of papers just never seem to get smaller! But while we are digging ourselves out of the paper piles, we are looking ahead to spring, when we will be digging into the dirt. We have the Annual Tree and Shrub Sale coming up in a week. At the end of April, we will be getting a delivery of Trees for Tribs to plant along waterways in the Champlain watershed. We also have several projects planned for this summer. Our local Envirothon is coming up, and we just heard there are more teams signed up this year than there has been in the past several years! We all look forward to getting back outside and getting projects on the ground! Stay tuned for new pictures and stories that are sure to follow!
I've been out on a lot of new farms the past few months, which makes me happy knowing that new farmers are still starting up farms in our county. They are not large dairies like 30 years ago but smaller diversified farms that are each finding a niche that is needed in our area. Handmade cheese, specialty veggies and lamb to name a few. I wish them luck and can't wait to continue to work with them on conservation plans in the future. The district is always striving to help do our part to keep agriculture alive in Essex County. If we can help as always feel free to call or stop in the office and we'd be happy to meet with you!
It's already December and most farmers and landowners are scurrying around pack everything up for the long winter months. We would like to wish you and your family a very Happy Holidays From Essex County Soil & Water Conservation District! We are thankful for your support this year and are looking forward to working with you in 2013!
Another grazing season is coming to an end for most farmers. Those of you who stockpile for late fall/early winter grazing may still have some time left for animals on the fields. It was a very different year for farmers than last year. Last year I met with many hardworking farmers who had lost everything in the spring flood and then again during Irene. This year we were all doing rain dances in the field hopeing for an end to the drought. One thing about farming that is always predictable that it is always unpredictable!! Thank you to those farms that allowed me to work with them on their farms this year!
It is never to early to think about spring planting! Usually this time of year it is hard to imagine conservation practices under the feet of freshly fallen snow! But with the warm weather we've had this year it is easier to think about it. Call us with any planting questions and dont forget Tree & Seedling sale April 20th, Fairgrounds!