9 Things Producers Should Know: A New Conservation Option for Va’s Ag Producers

Michael-2013Resource management plans are a new way for agricultural producers and landowners to preserve soil and water quality while improving their bottom line.  Plus, there’s this bonus: Farms operating under an RMP plan are deemed to be in compliance with state nutrient and sediment standards for nine years. The program was launched in 2014 and has been endorsed by both agricultural and environmental leaders. Participation in an RMP plan is completely voluntary, and there’s funding available to help landowners initiate the program.

The program encourages farmers to have a private-sector developer create an RMP plan for their farm or a portion of it. The plan will take into account the property’s existing stream buffer, soil conservation, nutrient management and stream-exclusion practices. The developer will inform the landowner of any additional practices that need to be implemented to qualify for the RMP certificate.

Once the plan is approved and implemented, the property owner is granted certainty from state nutrient and sediment water quality standards for the next nine years.

While the program is new, it’s based on conservation practices that have been used successfully for years. The mix of practices not only helps prevent water pollution, but they keep farms efficient and profitable. Nutrient management plans and soil conservation practices can help maintain nutrients and reduce soil loss. Stream exclusion often leads to healthy herds, fewer veterinary costs and more marketable livestock.

Another positive for the agricultural community is that the program enables better tracking of practices that are in place. This ensures that farmers receive the credit they deserve for helping to protect soil and water resources across Virginia.

Funding is available through the Virginia Agricultural Cost Share program to fund both development of RMPs and the practices needed to complete one.

For more information, including contact information for certified resource management plan developers, visit www.dcr.virginia.gov/soil_and_water/rmp.shtml. Or, contact your local soil and water conservation district.  For those living in Franklin, Henry, Roanoke Counties and the City of Roanoke, contact Michael Tabor (Conservation Technician) at the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District by calling (540) 483-5341 ext. 122. For Henry County residents call us at (276) 632-3164 ext. 3.  Click here to discover the 9 things producers should know: RMP_9Things-brochure







2015 Stewardship Virginia Stewardship

April 1 – May 31 and Sept. 1 – Oct. 31

Building a Better Outdoors – Today, Tomorrow… Every Day

Monarch artwork.Stewardship Virginia is a statewide initiative held twice annually to help citizens with projects that enhance and conserve Virginia’s natural and cultural resources. Its focus is on projects that

  • enhance water quality
  • control invasive species
  • improve recreational resources
  • preserve historic and cultural resources
  • conserve natural heritage resources
  • educate people about recreational, historical, cultural, wildlife, forest and water resources
  • improve wildlife habitat and tree cover

Interested? Then get involved!

Get the word out about Stewardship Virginia by mentioning it in your newsletter, posting flyers on bulletin boards or promoting it with paychecks or organizational mailings. Businesses can grant employees time off to help with an event. Business can also to the campaign to help defray the costs of promotional material.

Stewardship Virginia… as simple as 1, 2, 3

  1. Plan and conduct a volunteer project or event or join an existing one. Our resource guide makes it easy to get great ideas about projects and where to go to get started. Come up with your own unique projects, or call to speak with the project coordinator for ideas and guidance.
  2. Complete a registration form and send it in. Your event will be added to our website, ensuring greater exposure.
  3. Give volunteers a big “thank you” by handing out certificates signed by the governor. These will be sent to you after receiving your registration.

Save the monarch

This year, Stewardship Virginia is placing particular focus on public awareness of the drastic decline of monarch butterfly populations and those of other “pollinators in peril.” Learn more about the campaign at 2015 Stewardship VA.

Sign-up Deadline for Stream Fencing & Grazing Management Program is June 30, 2015

A cost-share program is currently offered that provides a reimbursement at 100% of estimated cost for installing fencing to exclude livestock from water at a minimum of 35 feet from the water’s edge.  Fencing to divide pastures, watering systems, and stream crossings can be covered under this program at the same 100% rate when done in conjunction with stream exclusion fencing.  To be qualified the land must be in a system of agricultural production with livestock that have access to a stream and have a minimum of five contiguous acres. For more information please call Michael Tabor or P. W. Morgan with the Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District at 540-483-5269 ext. 122 or 115. Sign-up for funding at the 100% rate will end June 30, 2015.  As long as an application is on file by this date, the contract will be honored at this rate when funding becomes available. Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the Virginia Department Conservation and Recreation and is equal opportunity.  The Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation is located at 1297 State Street, Rocky Mount, VA 24151.         Michael-2013

2015 Youth Conservation Camp-Apply Now!

2014-YCC-Elizabeth WilliamsThe Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District is offering scholarships to a limited number of qualified applicants within Franklin, Henry, Roanoke Counties and the City of Roanoke to attend an expense paid, week-long conservation camp at Virginia Tech.  Camp dates are Sunday, July 12 through Saturday, July 18, 2015.  Soil and Water Conservation officials from the local, state and federal levels and Virginia Tech faculty members work together to conduct the camp. Applicants must be in grades 9 through 12 of the 2014-2015 academic school year.  Twelfth graders who graduate from high school in May, June, July or August 2015 are eligible to attend.  Previous youth conservation campers cannot attend.  Please review the “2015 Camper Application_VASWCD” and “2015 Camp Highlights” below and make additional copies as needed.  The 2015 Youth Conservation Camp applications are to be received by the Blue Ridge District office no later than by Tuesday, April 14, 2015.  Pictured above is Elizabeth Williams, 2014 Youth Conservation Camper The scholarship winners will be notified by the district as soon as possible. Upon notification, the winners will be required to send $75.00 to the Blue Ridge SWCD.  This will be fully refunded upon completion of the camp and a brief report to the directors about their camp adventures.  Travel to and from the camp is the responsibility of the student. There is no fee to apply for the scholarship.          2015 Camper Application_VASWCD-2     2015 Camp Highlights

Envirothon – What’s It All About?

Jessica Kaknevicius (Ontario Envirothon) will be hosting an “ENVIROTHON WEBINAR” through Green Teacher http://greenteacher.com/webinars/  on THURSDAY, January 22nd at 7:30-8:30 EST.  It will be generic, and not focused on Ontario, Jessica will be using the Ontario Envirothon pEnvirothon picturerogram as an example. Details at:  http://greenteacher.com/webinars/ You will have to set-up an account with Green Teacher if you do not already have on. I would encourage you to pass the word and to join in on this webinar, or any of the others that the “Green Teacher” may offer.

If you have questions, please contact Jessica directly Jessica Kaknevicius Education Programs Manager FORESTS ONTARIO 144 Front Street West, Suite 700 Toronto, ON, M5J 2L7 P:  416-4934565 x. 226 E:  jkaknevicius@forestsontario.ca

About Us:

The Envirothon is a program of the National Conservation Foundation (NCF), a 501(c)3 not-for profit organization.  The Envirothon is established to provide a naturl resource encounter and environmental education program for high school students throughout North America.  Contact Envirothon at www.envirothon.org.

Maintaining Your Septic System

Septic System Diagram 3What is a septic system and what does it do?

A septic system is a wastewater treatment system connected to your home that consists of a septic tank, a distribution box and a drain field.  All are underground.  Septic systems are used widely in areas not served by public sewer.  The purpose of a septic system is to carry wastes and wastewater away from your home and to treat it so that it is safe when it reaches the ground water supply, which is used for drinking water supplies and recreation.  Each part of the system plays an important role and must be properly maintained to function properly.

*     Do you know where your septic system is located?

*     Can you recall the last time our septic system was pumped?

*     How can you tell if your septic system has failed?

*     Does it help to add yeast to your septic system?

*     How do household cleaners affect your septic system?

*     How often should you have your septic system inspected?

*      How familiar are you with the septic system “DO’s and DON’Ts”?

For answers to these questions and more contact your local health department and visit- http://www.nesc.wvu.edu/pdf/ww/septic/pl_fall04.pdf


2015 Poster Contest

2015 PollinatorsThe annual Conservation Poster Contest provides kindergarten through twelfth grade students an opportunity to convey their thoughts about soil, water and related natural resource issues through art. It also highlights the educational outreach efforts of conservation districts and their state conservation associations, auxiliaries and agencies. The poster contest theme follows the annual NACD Stewardship theme.
Each year, the poster contest starts at the district level. Individuals and teachers with questions regarding district contests should contact their local district. To locate your local district search our online SWCD Directory or contact the VASWCD. District winners advance to the state level. Local SWCDs should forward their local winning poster entries to the VASWCD office for consideration at the state level. Local SWCDs need to submit these poster winners to the VASWCD for consideration by October 23, 2015. Finally, state winners advance to the National Contest. National winners are recognized each year at the NACD Annual Meeting.
2015 Contest Theme
Local Heroes-Your Hardworking Pollinators
Poster Categories by Grade:
 K-1
 2-3
 4-6
 7-9
 10-12
The contest is open to public, private or home school students, girl scout/boy scout troops, etc.
For additional information such as rules and resources, district organizers, prizes etc. visit the following sites: http://www.vaswcd.org/poster-contest and/or http://www.nacdnet.ag/eduction/contests/local-and-state2015. 2015-Pollinator_Resources_NACD1 and 2015_NACD_Poster_Contest_Rules

Blue Ridge SWCD Educates Youth at FC Ag Fair!

Blue Ridge SWCD Educates Youth at FC Ag Fair!

The Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District was one of many educational outreach exhibits at the 2014 Franklin County Agriculture Fair, which featured “Dig Deeper: Mysteries in the Soil”. Within a three day span (September 10-12), all of Franklin County’s first, third and fifth grades (1,600 students) along with their teachers and volunteers came out to listen, learn and laugh.

At the district booth, root boxes were displayed to show the importance of deep rooted plants such as field rye and annual rye and the role they play in cover crops and no till planting, unlocking the mystery of reducing soil erosion rates.

As the worms (“red wigglers”) passed by, students had the option of touching them.  They had to be quick at touching them before the worms rapidly headed downward into the rich soil. Severalstudents expressed their “taste” for worms as “yuk”, others said, “way cool”. Once the students were instructed on the many important ways worms enrich and benefit the soil, another soil mystery was solved.


Digging deeper into our soil lesson, the students were taught how the soil benefits from composting such as:  Adds vigor to your lawn and garden, retains moisture, resists drought, helps loosen heavy clay soils, increases living organisms, adds nutrients and conditions, and keeps methane-producing organic materials out of landfills. They also became aware that since cows are herbivores, cow manure makes an outstanding fertilizer that can be composted as well.

For the grand finale’, students lined up in two rows facing a tumbler-style composter for a chance to toss the birdseed felt “cow pie” into the mouth of the composter.  Many students tossed a hole in one and all were eager to try their hand again at composting another “cow pie”.

During each outreach session, the teachers and volunteers with each group were invited to participate in a drawing by completing an entry ticket from the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District for a chance to win a fully constructed Rain Barrel.  The drawing took place on September 22, 2014 at the Blue Ridge SWCD’s monthly board meeting.  Out of a total of 137 entries, the district’s 2014 Youth Conservation Camper, Elizabeth Williams, drew out the winning entry ticket.  Cynthia Miller, a first grade teacher at Windy Gap Elementary School was the lucky winner of the Rain Barrel prize (worth $50).  Mrs. Miller has been teaching at this elementary school for the past five years. Over the past few years her interest in conserving natural resources has grown. According to Mrs. Miller, “I realize the importance of using what comes from the earth and utilizing it to its’ full capacity by reducing, reusing and recycling our natural resources.”  Congratulations, Mrs. Miller and a special “thank you” to all of the teachers and volunteers who participated in this special drawing! (Pictured above is Cynthia Miller, winner of the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District’s “Rain Barrel” drawing).