Ohio’s New Conservation Program To Improve Lake Erie Water Quality

VR LOGO - WEBBryan, Ohio — Area farmers and landowners are encouraged to participate in a new conservation program that will help to improve water quality in Lake Erie and 5,000 miles of streams by reducing nutrient runoff.

Authorized by Senate Bill 150 that was signed into law by Governor John R. Kasich, the Lake Erie Nutrient Reduction Program (LE NRP) will assist farmers in installing best management practices that keep nutrients on fields, improve water quality and combat harmful algal blooms. The program will be supervised locally by the Williams Soil and Water Conservation District. Working with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) through the Ohio Clean Lakes Initiative, $1.25 million will be available to producers in 27 Ohio counties. ODNR has already helped farmers implement best management practices on more than 40,000 acres in the Lake Erie watershed.

“Farmers have shown us they’re serious about improving Lake Erie,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “ODNR is pleased to partner with Ohio’s local soil and water conservation districts to get more practices installed as soon as possible.”

“We all have a part to play to improve water quality in Lake Erie,” said Williams SWCD Administrator Chris Dancer. “Our district is excited to use our existing relationships with Ohio’s farmers to improve the health of one of our state’s greatest natural resources.”

The LE NRP is a voluntary program that reimburses farmers to plant cover crops or install drainage management devices such as controlled drainage structures or blind tile inlets. In addition to reducing runoff of nutrients and pesticides the practices will allow farmers to manage and maintain the water from their fields after harvest and during the growing season, ultimately enhancing production. Cropland enrolled must be approved by local SWCD technical staff and ODNR Division of Soil and Water Resources area engineers.

Counties included in the new program are: Allen, Ashland, Auglaize, Crawford, Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Huron, Lucas, Lorain, Marion, Medina, Mercer, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Richland, Sandusky, Seneca, Shelby, Van Wert, Williams, Wood and Wyandot. Starting immediately, landowners in these counties can sign up for the program.

ODNR has committed $1.25 million to the program and anticipates planting cover crops on up to 25,000 acres as well as installing more than 300 structures. This funding is in addition to the $3.5 million already appropriated through the Ohio Clean Lakes initiative for best management practices and water quality monitoring.

Farmers and others owning land in Williams County are encouraged to contact the Williams Soil and Water Conservation District at 419-636-9395 ext. 3 or 419-636-2349 ext. 3.

Information is also available by contacting the ODNR Division of Soil and Water Resources at 614-265-6610 or soilandwater.ohiodnr.gov.

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