Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District credits collaborationby Troy Bishopp

HAMILTON, NY – Henry Ford said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” The short days and snowflakes usher in a holiday season that provides a reflection of accomplishment. This pause for appreciation is better served over a meal complemented with ice cream.

For the 10th year, the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) held its annual customer appreciation luncheon at the White Eagle Conference Center in Hamilton, NY. With 65 guests in attendance, the casual get-together continues to honor the family of conservation stewards who help the district initiate its mission to promote voluntary, economically viable and environmentally conscious agriculture through continual implementation of their locally-led Agricultural Environmental Management Program.

It’s a small gesture of praise for our local family farmers, local contractors, local vendors, town supervisors, county employees, elected officials, agri-business companies, engineering support, state and federal conservation partners and funding organizations said District Manager Steve Lorraine. At this time of year, we also extend a debt of gratitude to our armed forces personnel and to all the farmers nationally who have had another trying year.

Over a meal and conversations, a family-style slideshow presentation highlighted a variety of 2019 projects that the staff of nine worked on using the NYS Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) program planning matrix. These plans and over $1.5 million worth of landowner, local, state and federal financial resources led to surveying and designing tile drainage, grade stabilization projects, road culvert projects, stream remediation, manure storages, pasture systems, livestock stream crossings, spring developments, milk-house waste systems, heavy use areas, riparian buffers and the planting of over 1,100 acres of cover crops locally.

This field work represents that for every county tax dollar invested in the SWCD, he district leverages over $11 of conservation partner investment funding for the rural 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 chair.

In addition, the proactive staff managed construction projects, planted trees, installed fence on stream buffers, consulted on grazing management, mentored interns, developed and applied nutrient management plans, took soil samples, delineated watersheds for culvert sizing, secured stream and lake permits, led educational training events and held the popular annual tree sale within their busy work schedule. The staff also worked with the Upper Susquehanna Coalition and NYSDEC to formulate the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL strategy as well as extensive grant writing.

To learn more about the work the Madison County SWCD does for the community, or to get your 2020 tree sale order form, contact the district at 315.824.9849 or visit