Summer '11- Niagara Nature News
Winter '11- Niagara Nature News
CALLS ON CONGRESS TO SUPPORT FARM BILL CONSERVATION PROGRAMS
comment to EPA on the proposed TMDL for the Chesapeake Bay.
ABOUT NIAGARA COUNTY SOIL & WATER
Since 1954, the Niagara County Soil and
Water Conservation District has been providing services to local area
farmers, landowners and municipalities. Conveniently located on the Niagara
County Fair Grounds, we are teamed up with the U.S. Department of
Agriculture and Cornell Cooperative Extension to function as a local source
of information, technical assistance, education and leadership necessary for
the conservation and wise use of Niagara County’s natural resources.
On November 3rd, 2004, the Niagara County
Soil and Water Conservation District celebrated its 50th anniversary with
all who agree that our environment is a fragile but important part of our
county and lives worth conserving for future generations.
Our office is engaged year round with
activities consisting of:
Water Quality Monitoring
Wildlife Habitat Improvement
Pond Site Analyses & Stocking
Tree Seedling Sales
Agricultural Assistance is one of the main activities that the Soil and
Water Conservation District is engaged in. With grants funded by N.Y.S. and
the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we are able to assist farmers with the
implementation of best management practices specifically aimed at
controlling point and non-point source pollution.
The Soil and Water Conservation District works in partnership with local
farmers, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Service
Agency to deliver United States Department of Agriculture Farm Bill
Programs. The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and the Environmental Quality
Incentive Program (EQIP) have been two successful ventures in Niagara
County. With district assistance, the WRP program provides landowners the
opportunity to establish long- term conservation and wildlife practices on
their property. The EQIP program provides farmers with a voluntary
conservation program that promotes agricultural production and environmental
quality nation wide. This is accomplished by providing technical assistance,
installation and implementation of structural and non-structural management
Since its inception, the Soil and Water Conservation district has assisted
in the development and management of countless ponds within Niagara County.
Ponds can be constructed for fish production, fire protection, water for
livestock and landscape improvement. Whatever the reason, it is important to
have a good understanding of the factors that will make the difference
between a beautiful pond and a big empty hole. Prior to construction, the
district will evaluate the proposed pond location, water sources, soils and
overflow drainage features to assure that a functioning pond is the end
result. Private ponds have long been a tradition in American Culture. They
beautify our landscape and are essential to aquatic wildlife enhancement.
POND STOCKING & TREE SALES.
The Soil and Water Conservation District provides a local link to nurseries
and fisheries for the purchase of fish and seedlings. Do you need to stock
that new pond you just built? Every summer, our office takes orders for its
annual fish stocking program. Whether your fish needs are for aquatic weed
control, ecosystem enhancement, or recreational fishing, the annual program
is sure to fit your every need.
We also offer an annual sale of deciduous and evergreen tree seedlings and
transplants, shrubs, ground covers and grasses to help assist landowners
with the establishment of conservation areas and for and restoration of
natural resources. Each spring, we package and distribute approximately
85,000 seedlings to provide landowners with economical plant materials for
windbreaks, to establish wildlife food and habitat areas, for reforestation
and to prevent soil erosion.
A no-till drill is maintained and operated by our office, which is used for
the establishment of wildlife habitat in the county. The drill is specially
designed to install warm season and cool season grasses for enhancing our
natural wildlife areas. The goal of grassland establishment is to provide
habitat for the natural propagation of pheasants to expand the wild turkey
range and populations, while also benefiting other grassland birds like the
bluebird, bobolink and meadowlark, and other birds of concern in New York
State. Many other species of wildlife will benefit from this type of
wildlife restoration as well.
AGRICULTURAL ASSESSMENTS & MAP ASSISTANCE
Our office is responsible for completing soil group worksheets for
landowners applying for agricultural assessments. Eligible landowners can
receive a reduction in the amount of their property tax bills for land in
agriculture production by obtaining a reassessment of the property based on
the defined value of the soils located at the property. The Niagara County
Soil and Water Conservation District can assist with a variety of natural
resource information. We are your one stop repository for Niagara County
Flood Insurance Rate Maps, New York State and Federal Wetland maps, Soil
Survey maps and Topographical Quadrangles. Our office is equipped with the
most up to date aerial photography as well as the latest Geographical
Information System (GIS) software and data, making natural resource planning
and maps user friendly for all who are involved.
Our office is involved in many ways to promote conservation education -
through seminars, newsletters, and two major educational events sponsored
each year. For 35 years the Victor Fitchlee Conservation Education Park in
Gasport has been the pristine location for the annual Environmental
Conservation Field Days. During this 2-day event for 5th and 6th grade
students, classes rotate through the park to learn about topics ranging from
water quality, forestry, conservation law and outdoor hobbies. In 2001, the
District was presented the U.S.E.P.A Region 2 Environmental Quality Award
for this valuable educational program that enriches the lives of over 1000
students every year.
The Envirothon, an outdoor environmental competition for high school
students, began in 1990. Working as a team to complete several exams, the
Envirothon challenges students’ knowledge of soils, aquatics, forestry,
wildlife and current issues, while enhancing their environmental awareness.
Local winning teams move on to the State and National competitions to
compete for prizes and scholarships. Teaching about our natural resources,
and giving our children an understanding and appreciation of their
environment is the best way to ensure our community will flourish for
The Soil and Water Conservation District provides surface and sub-surface
drainage assistance to all Niagara County residents, farmers and
municipalities. We have assisted farmers with the survey, stakeout and
design of countless tile systems which increase product yield and make it a
little easier to be a producer in today’s difficult farming environment. Our
office has also assisted municipalities by designing tile systems, ditches
and diversions for golf course, baseball fields and numerous roads and
waterways located within Niagara County.
A hydro-seeder is maintained and operated by our office and is available to
all municipalities. Any areas disturbed by ditching and drainage projects as
well as sensitive environmental areas along the lake and creeks that have
the potential to produce sediment-laden runoff can be hydro-seeded to
quickly establish vegetation and reduce soil erosion. Highly erodible lands,
such as the sledding hill at Bonds lake, and acres of lands along local
watercourses and the lake have been hydro-seeded to reduce soil erosion, to
stabilize banks and to protect water quality.
WATER QUALITY MONITORING & STREAMBANK STABILIZATION
Streambank erosion causes property loss and carries endless amounts of soil
into our streams. It pollutes our water and results in the degradation of
aquatic habitat and diminished navigability of our waterway. Our office has
been very active completing structural and non-structural measures designed
to protect critically eroding streambanks within Niagara County.
In 2003, we partnered with Niagara County Department of Planning, Town of
Newfane, Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Environmental
Conservation to protect the water and aquatic life of Eighteen Mile Creek.
The Eighteen Mile Creek Restoration Project was designed to improve water
quality and fish habitat in the creek, and make fishing a safer and more
enjoyable activity. A quarter mile stretch of the creek just below Burt Dam
was restored and the creek banks stabilized. Utilizing innovative
techniques, the project was successful in removing debris, improving
existing hiking trails, stabilizing eroded stream banks, improving fish
habitat and reducing pollution.
Eighteen Mile Creek has been designated as an Area of Concern (AOC) by the
International Joint Commission under the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water
Quality Agreement. The Niagara County Soil and Water Conservation District
serves as the lead agency for the Remedial Action Plan Coordination and
Management designed to de-list Eighteen Mile Creek as an AOC. This is being
accomplished through strategic management of present and future creek
remediation activities. One way this is being accomplished is through a
county wide water quality monitoring program. The program is designed to
collect water quality data to provide scientific evidence of water quality
impairments to local areas of concern, which will enhance data used to
prioritize local programs and update the NYS Department of Environmental
Conservation Priority Waterbodies List.
The Niagara County Soil and Water District is working for you and the
For more information on all district programs, Contact us at 716-434-4949.
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its
programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age,
disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental
status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs,
reprisal, or because all or part of an individual's income is derived from any
public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.)
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of
program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact
USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of
discrimination write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400
Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272
(voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and