[Press Release] USDA Regional Conservation Program Supports Farm and Forest Conservation
Alliance Partnership Will Help Improve Local Drinking Water And The Chesapeake Bay
Alliance Executive Director Al Todd discusses Mason-Dixon Lands Partnership Project at gathering on Terra Rubra Farm in Keymar, MD to celebrate new USDA Regional Conservation Partnerships Program.
Carroll County, MD, May 6, 2015 – The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay gathered with other Bay watershed restoration partners at Terra Rubra Farm yesterday to celebrate the new USDA Regional Conservation Partnerships Program. The program is focused on accelerating the adoption of priority conservation practices including the restoration of forests and riparian buffers to prevent runoff from entering local waterways, stabilize stream banks, protect drinking water, and improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitats in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The Alliance, together with its partners the Stroud Water Research Center in Avondale, PA, our Local Conservation Districts, Baltimore County and the City of Baltimore, the Glatfelter Pulpwood Company, and the Maryland Forest Service is working on the Mason-Dixon Lands Partnership Project which will encourage and support the adoption of whole-farm conservation systems. The project will focus its outreach and assistance to farms and woodland owners in the agricultural regions along the Pennsylvania/Maryland state border in counties that are part of the Lower Susquehanna, Potomac and Patuxent River watersheds. Streams within these watersheds contain high quality trout habitat and high priority areas for species of concern like the golden-winged warbler yet, many of these streams also have critical phosphorus and bacteria pollution issues. At the same time, portions of these same watersheds provide the drinking water to over 3 ½ million people. The Alliance and its partners will directly help farm and forest landowners implement conservation practices that address both poor water quality and degraded habitat for fish and wildlife.
The Mason-Dixon Working Lands Partnership Project building on the Alliance’s Healthy Streams Farm Stewardship Program will leverage federal assistance with private incentives to maximize impact. While available to all farmers and woodland owners in watersheds along the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, the Partnership will focus its efforts in the Prettyboy Watershed Reservoir to protect drinking water quality and forest health.
The USDA funds provided through RCPP, are the catalyst for bringing significant additional private and matching resources to the region –increasing the impact of the USDA contribution by 3 fold. Through the Mason-Dixon Working Lands Partnership we hope to overcome some of the barriers facing the adoption of critical high priority practices like riparian forest buffers.
Financial assistance through RCPP will be distributed to landowners using a screening and ranking process that places the highest-priority on key practices that achieve both water quality and habitat goals.
“Building local partnerships is a key part of all our work,” said Al Todd, Executive Director for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. “Through the RCPP program, we will be able to bring both technical and financial support to farmers and woodland owners and help them plan and implement important watershed conservation projects.”