HAMILTON, NY – Architect, Richard Rogers conveyed, “The only way forward, if we are going to improve the quality of the environment, is to get everybody involved.” When it comes to amassing the people, projects, equipment and financial resources to put practical conservation on the ground, the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District leads the charge in bringing environmental stakeholders together.
Six years ago, District Manager, Steve Lorraine, started an annual December appreciation luncheon as a way to share the year’s progress and commend the family of farmers, contractors, town supervisors, Agri-business companies, extension educators, state and federal conservation partners and funding organizations for their hard work and commitment to the District’s mission to put common-sense, practical conservation in place. “It’s a time to reflect and reconnect over a relaxing meal and continue the personal relationships that build our conservation teams and support strong rural communities. Honestly, we just wanted to give back on behalf of Madison County residents who benefit from all our work,” said Lorraine.
2015 marked a significant rise in stream stabilization work, as the intense storm events of 2013, spurred a new county pilot program focusing more energy on mitigating flood damage, reducing property loss and helping landowners understand stream dynamics. This complemented the district’s staple efforts in providing technical assistance and implementation of conservation tillage and cover cropping, log jam clearing, riparian buffers, stream project permitting, municipal culvert sizing and nutrient management planning.
As the lead for the Madison County Water Quality Coordinating Committee and member of the Upper Susquehanna Coalition, district staff also worked in tandem with its partners on a variety of projects in 2015 assisting farmers with conservation planning through the NYS Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) program.
These plans led to surveying and the design of multiple best management practices including tile drainage, grade stabilization projects, farmstead infrastructure and more. In addition, they managed construction projects, planted trees, installed fence on stream buffers, provided grazing management mentorship, supported educational training opportunities and held the popular annual tree and fish sales.
“The district’s hands-on approach, forward thinking and idea-sharing of what they have seen work on other farms, helps me make sound farmstead decisions. We’re lucky to have them,” said dairy farmer, Dan Furner.
“Madison County benefits because for every dollar invested in the local district by county taxpayers it provides over 21 dollars back into the agricultural community. The key to successful conservation is how the local dollars are matched with outside funding sources and the landowner’s cost-share and time to get projects on the ground. It’s a recipe that works,” emphasized Doug Holdridge, District Board Chairman.
To learn more about the work Madison County SWCD does for the community, contact the district at 315-824-9849 or visit www.madcoswcd.com.