Category Archives: Practices

Best management practices for woodland managagement

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

EQIP Establishes March 6 as the Next Cut-off Date

The Kentucky Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced that the 2020 sign-up cut-off date for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) will be March 6, 2020.

Applications received by March 6, 2020 will be evaluated for funding. Applications received after March 6, 2020, will be accepted, but will be held for funding consideration if a second evaluation cycle occurs in 2020. Unfortunately, a second application batching period for general EQIP is unlikely for year 2020 so this may be your only opportunity in 2020 to apply for financial assistance to implement forest conservation practices on your woodland.

Woodland owners interested in implementing forest conservation practices on their woodland should contact their local NRCS office to apply ASAP. If you are a woodland owner in central or northeast Kentucky who has been waiting to obtain a woodland management plan please inform the NRCS office staff that you are interested in participating in the “UK Forestry RCPP” project which is trying to service woodland owners who have been waiting to receive a forest management plan.

How local forestry organizations can address woodlands issues in your community

Is there a forestry issue in your county that needs to be addressed? You don’t have to go it alone. Several state and local agencies can provide professional guidance and education for a group of committed citizens who want to take action regarding a woodlands concern in their community.

The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service has developed three fact sheets to assist woodland owners in the:

formation

operation and

program planning

for local forestry organizations.

LFOs are independent local organizations comprised of woodland owners, forest industry, local leaders, and anyone else interested in forestry issues. LFOs provide interested individuals an opportunity to increase their knowledge on forest management and respond to local and state forestry issues.

Forest Carbon: A Natural Solution for Climate Change

As a forest landowner, or as someone who helps to steward forests, you can have a significant impact on climate change through the land-use decisions you make.

Forest Carbon: An Essential Natural Solution for Climate Change

2019 University of Massachusetts Amherst

What role will your forest play?

Learn:

  • the difference between carbon storage and sequestration
  • what is a carbon pool
  • the difference between individual tree and forest-wide growth rates
  • how forest succession and development affects carbon storage and sequestration
  • the role of forest products in the carbon story
  • the carbon trade-offs of passive and/or active approaches to forest management
  • carbon-informed forest management

In addition to keeping forests as forests, landowners’ decisions about the management of their forest and carbon should be made with an understanding of the trade-offs between maximizing carbon sequestration and storage and meeting their other goals (forest resiliency, wildlife, local wood products).

Read more…

Edge cutting woodlands for wildlife habitat

Creating new forest openings in successive strips can improve their hunting opportunities through a series of manageable projects while also allowing for forest regeneration through natural production of new seedlings. In fact, there are some clear advantages to gradually regenerating your woods in small stages as compared to a single, large cut.

 

Advantages of this technique include:

Creation of a transitional zone

Providing cover adjacent to forage

Flexible scheduling

Incremental testing

Tree Beekeeping

What if a beekeeper made a hive that suits the bees or they do not come; a hive that can last a hundred years or more and cost nothing? An old Eastern European traditional form of beekeeping called tree beekeeping does not depend on cane sugar, antibiotics, genetic dilution, migratory beekeeping and dense apiaries. Tree hives allow bees to build long term bonds and connections between the environment and other colonies.

Read more from the Beekeepers Quarterly Issue 123, 2016

Former federal strip-mine inspector leads decades-long effort to reforest mines in Eastern Ky

With the help of local volunteers and some bulldozers, Patrick Angel, retired strip-mine inspector and farm owner near London, KY, has spent the past two decades trying to reforest mined areas.

More than 187 million trees have been planted on about 275,000 acres of former mines, Gabriel Popkin reports for The Washington Post Magazine. (Popkin is science writer who was born and raised in Kentucky.) As the Obama administration was ending, it issued regulations “that all but required reforestation for surface-mine reclamation,” Popkin notes. “One of President Trump’s first acts, supposedly to reward the coal miners and industry leaders who supported him, was to kill the new rule.”

Read more…