All posts by Karen

Forests growing on shale bedrock take up more carbon

Forests growing on shale bedrock store 25% more live, above ground carbon and grow faster, taking up about 55% more carbon each year than forests growing on sandstone bedrock.

According to Margot Kaye, associate professor of forest ecology at Pennsylvania State University, shale forests make up a smaller portion of the landscape and should be high-priority candidates for management or conservation.

Read more…

The findings of the research are recently published in Forest Ecology and Management (2020).

Forest Inventory and Analysis projects how forests are likely to appear 10 to 50 years from now.

The Forest Inventory and Analysis Program of the U.S. Forest Service reports on the status and trends in forest area and location; in the species, size, and health of trees; in total tree growth, mortality, and removals by harvest; in wood production and utilization rates by various products; and in forest land ownership.

Fact sheets summarizing a state’s essential forest data can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y47crdzo.

NRCS Local Work Group Meetings

Local Work Group (LWG) meetings will be occurring across the state, from now until the end of July. These meetings will be held on the NRCS work unit basis.

Local Work Group meetings will consist of farmers, landowners, conservation partners, and other members of the community who has an interest in and have knowledge of the natural resource needs for the area. The discussion and recommendations from the participants in the meeting will assist NRCS with program direction of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and resource concerns for other USDA programs for Fiscal Year 2021 and beyond.

Please use this link for LWG information.

Conservation Planning Meetings Map.

Sonya Keith, Assistant State Conservationist – Partnership Coordinator

Email: sonya.keith@usda.gov

NRCS is asking for your review and comment

USDA State Technical Committee and Other Interested Persons are asked for review and comment on two specific items.

State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE)

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) has the opportunity to review and modify the existing SAFE proposal for Kentucky.  SAFE is a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) initiative that stands for State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement.  Kentucky has had a SAFE agreement in place for a number of years in the western part of the state, targeting bobwhite quail habitat and songbird habitat.  Changes made in the current Farm Bill necessitated modifications to the existing proposal, so FSA, NRCS, and the original stakeholders met informally to review the proposal and draft the required modifications.  We also took the opportunity to make additional changes to improve the agreement and expand the habitat types used to improve conditions for the target species.

 

Before the proposal can be submitted for approval and use in the state, FSA is requesting the State Technical Committee review the attached as put forth by the project stakeholders.  If anyone has any comments or questions, they may be addressed to angella.watson@usda.gov by COB, June 15, 2020.

 

Wetland Restoration Criteria and Guidelines (WRCG)

With the issuance of the revised Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) manual dated February 2020 part 440-528.131 (B.) there is a request that states develop a Wetland Restoration Criteria and Guidelines (WRCG) document. This document outlines the state’s decision making process for ACEP-Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) activities related to eligibility, ranking, selection, restoration, enhancement, and management of wetlands and associated habitats under the ACEP-WRE program to ensure program objectives are met.  When the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) was established and implemented in Kentucky all of these considerations were developed. The WRCG places these decisions in one document.

 

The State Technical should review and comment by June 12, 2020 for approval. No comment will mean acceptance. Questions or comments please contact Allen Arthur at allen.arthur@usda.gov.

 

NRCS Requesting Input

To USDA State Technical Committee and Other Interested Persons:

 

The new federal fiscal year starts in four months!!  As you might imagine, Kentucky NRCS staff is already making plans for FY 2021 program updates and changes.  With COVID-19 limiting our ability to meet together, it is our hope that you will consider this method of interacting as a continuation of our usual collaboration on NRCS programs and priorities.  We welcome and value your input on any or all of the following:

 

  • Practices:  Are there practices or activities beneficial to Kentucky farmers that aren’t currently offered under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)?
  • Payments:  Have you heard any comments regarding practice payment rates received by program participants that are too low or too high? Are there practices for which we should offer an increased payment rate in order to address certain priority resource concerns?
  • Priorities: In addition to locally-led-identified focused conservation projects and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects, we have national and state EQIP priorities where applications compete against like-applications (and sometimes in certain geographical areas.)  The FY 2020 list is shown below (not in any particular order). Are there specific priorities or resource concerns/focuses that we are not addressing/focusing on or any you wish we wouldn’t consider a priority?
    • High Tunnel Systems
    • Organic (Certified and Transitioning)
    • Manure Management
    • Irrigation Water Management
    • Conservation Activity Plans (plans written by certified technical service providers (TSPs))
    • Historically Underserved (a separate category each for beginning farmers, limited resource producers and socially disadvantaged producers)
    • Southeast Kentucky Early Successional Habitat Initiative
    • Wildlife
    • Woodland
    • Pastureland
    • Cropland
  • NWQI & MRBI:  In FY 2021, selected watersheds will undergo a planning and assessment year for FY 2022 financial assistance under the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) and Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI).  Your input regarding watershed selection was solicited for this via email on May 7, 2020.   Responses were requested by May 22, however if you would still like to provide input, please send that to Tim Hafner at tim.hafner@usda.gov.
  • NRCS Source Water Protection Priority Areas:  We have been given the opportunity to refine the NRCS SWPPAs which were identified with your input last year (map is attached for your information.)  For FY 2020, EQIP applicants in these areas received extra ranking points.  There is also an opportunity to provide a higher payment rate for certain practices that address water quality/quantity in these areas.  Are there other areas that should be considered for NRCS SWPPAs?  Should any of the existing ones be enlarged or removed? Are there practices that should be given consideration for a higher payment rate?

 

In addition to your input on the above issues, we would like your feedback on a few specific items that we are considering for FY 2021 or 2022:

  • Through EQIP, we plan to offer a roofed animal feeding facility in FY 2021.  Our intent is to address the surface and subsurface water quality concerns that can arise from feeding livestock over winter.  This would require a comprehensive nutrient management plan prior to approval.  The facility would consist of several practices including waste storage facility, heavy use area, roofs and covers, roof runoff, and other related components.   While we currently offer these individual practices, we haven’t provided EQIP financial assistance for covered feeding areas in the past and are asking for your feedback on this.
  • Although we have identified irrigation water management (IWM) as a state priority for the last several years, we have not had many applications in this fund account.  EQIP requires that land offered for irrigation practices must have been irrigated at least 2 out of the last 5 years to quality for irrigation-related conservation practices and activities, and those practices/activities must improve water conservation/result in water savings.  We would like your input on what is needed regarding IWM in Kentucky.
  • We would like to build our staff capacity for natural stream design in FY 2021 and potentially offer technical and financial assistance to producers in FY 2022 and would welcome your input on this topic.  The purpose would be to address eroding streambanks and unstable stream reaches.  Natural Stream Design utilizes strategic rock placement, biologic material and other techniques while limiting the use of rip rap or gabion type structures.

 

While this is a rather long list of items for which we’re asking your input, we value and consider carefully your input for our program delivery.  Unless otherwise noted above, please send your input and feedback for any of the topics for which you have an interest to deena.wheby@usda.gov by June 30, 2020.

Deena Wheby |  Assistant State Conservationist for Programs |  771 Corporate Drive, Suite 300, Lexington KY 40503 | Phone:  859.224.7403  deena.wheby@usda.gov  FAX: 855.768.4249

Forest industries alive, well and in-business in Kentucky during pandemic

A March 19 memo from Christopher Krebs, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, listed workers who “support the manufacture and distribution of forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood products” among “essential critical infrastructure workers.”

The state of Kentucky continues to operate under the Governor’s Executive Order that went into effect on March 26 and closes all businesses that are not considered life sustaining or essential.  The Kentucky Forest Industries Association has worked hard to get forestry and wood products included in the order as essential which allows all forestry and wood products industry to continue to operate in Kentucky.

Chestnut Chat Series

The American Chestnut continues its Chestnut Chat series with the second event at 11:30AM on Friday, April 24. The topic for this week’s chat is National Volunteer Week and Earth Day: TACF Volunteers Share Their Stories. You’ll hear personal stories from several volunteers throughout TACF’s four regions, the work they do, and how they got involved.

Participants can join one of two ways:

Computer (via Zoom Webinar)
The meeting will open 15 minutes prior to start time to allow an audio and video test. You will be prompted to enter an email address once you click on this link. (Entering an email is a formality of Zoom Webinar and will not be used for solicitation. If you do not want to provide your email, you can choose to use a fake one.)

Phone
+1 646 876 9923. When prompted, enter this webinar ID#: 914 7362 4019.

Each Chat will be recorded and available on the ACF website.