Residential Septic Grant Funding Available for Upper Smith River & Blackberry Creek Watersheds in Henry County

 

We’ll pay 50% of your septic repair bill!

Pump outs, repairs, replacements

**Grant funding available for residents of the Upper Smith River and Blackberry Creek Watersheds in Henry County. **

Financial assistance available to all income levels.

How the program works:

  • Contact us for an application and to determine if you qualify
  • Wait to perform any work on your system until your application has been approved

Funding available until June 30, 2019

Contact Michael Tabor:

(276) 632-3164 ext. 122

mtabor@brswcd.org

Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District

1297 State St, Rocky Mount, VA 24151

Located in the USDA Service Center beside the Comfort Inn.

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the U.S. EPA and the VA Dept. of Environmental Quality under a Section 319 grant agreement 16545 to Blue Ridge SWCD. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the EPA or DEQ, nor does the EPA or DEQ endorse trade names or recommend the use of commercial products mentioned in this document.

Franklin County High School’s Envirothon Team Advances to State Competition

Pictured left to right: Madison Burnette, Autumn Young, Jason Tyree, Tyler Jordan and Hunter Brown

Three Area V Dominion Envirothon (natural resources competition) teams will advance to the state competition May 20-21 at Ferrum College. The Area V Dominion Envirothon competition was held on April 24, 2018 at Waid Recreation Area & Sports Complex in Rocky Mount and hosted by Blue Ride and Patrick Soil & Water Conservation Districts.

Overall first place at the Area V Envirothon competition went to Fuqua School (sponsored by Piedmont SWCD), placing second overall was Franklin County High School (sponsored by Blue Ridge SWCD) and overall third place went to Buckingham County High School (sponsored by Peter Francisco SWCD). Cumberland County High School also participating in the Area V Envirothon (sponsored by Peter Francisco SWCD).

Envirothon features five “in-the-field” test stations – soils, wildlife, aquatics, forestry and a current environmental issue – where teams answer questions in both written and hands-on formats. During an oral presentation each team proposes a management solution related to the current environmental issue to a panel of

Judges consisting of industry and natural resource professionals. This year’s issue is “Pastureland Management”. Franklin County High School and Fuqua School’s Dominion Envirothon Teams tied for 1st place overall in Soils.  Franklin County High School placed 2nd in Oral Presentation and placed 2nd Overall in the top three teams to advance to Virginia’s Dominion Envirothon State Competition at Ferrum College. Fuqua School placed 1st overall to advance to the state competition.

 

“The intense study required for this contest helps prepare students for college entrance exams, as well as possible careers in field associated with natural resources,” said Steven Meeks, President of the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Fueled by Dominion Energy’s generous sponsorship, the Envirothon program will undoubtedly continue to grow. Cindy Balderson, Philanthropy Manager for Dominion Energy and The Dominion Foundation shared the excitement of the new partnership stating,   “We believe the students’ participation in Envirothon activities will prepare them for college and beyond, as they study environmental issues and become advocates and stewards of our natural resources.

The team that earns 1st place at the state level competition will travel to Pocatello, Idaho to battle it out at the North American competition (July 22-July 26, 2018).

Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District (serving Franklin, Henry, Roanoke Counties and the City of Roanoke) needs help sponsoring students for next year’s Envirothon. If you can help, or would like to know more about starting an Envirothon team at your high school through 4-H, FFA, Ecology Club or home school group, contact Kathy Smith at (540) 483-5341 ext. 117 or (276) 632-3164 ext. 117 or contact the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts at (800) 727-6354.

 

 

Blue Ridge SWCD Offers Financial Assistance for Septic Repairs

Have you thought about your septic system lately? For most people septic systems are “out of sight and out of mind.” They may go years without worrying about the system until there is a problem. Although septic systems can be easy to overlook, maintaining it is an important part of being a homeowner. Routine maintenance can prevent problems before they occur, avoiding future repairs or system replacements that can be very costly. However, no septic system is designed to last forever and signs of a failing septic system can include sewage backups into a home, and lush green vegetation over areas of the drain field or other buried system components that may have a bad smell and be mushy.  In Henry County there are many older homes not connected to a public sewer that may be in need of septic repair or complete replacement.

Funding is available through the Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District to reimburse homeowners for 50% of the costs of septic system pump-outs, public sewer hook-ups (where available), repairs, and replacements. In addition, the program also educates residents about proper septic system care and about the environmental and health impacts of failing septic systems. Applicants must live in the portion of the Smith River watershed northwest of Martinsville and the Blackberry Creek watershed in Henry County to be eligible. Funding rates may also be eligible to be increased in lower income situations.

To learn more about our septic program, determine if you live in an eligible watershed, or request an application, please contact Michael Tabor at (276) 632-3164 ext. 122 or Allen Jackson at ext.118. Inquiries can also be submitted via email at mtabor@brswcd.org or djackson@brswcd.org and also during regular office hours (8-4:30 p.m M-F) at 1297 State Street, Rocky Mount, VA 24151.

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the U.S. EPA and the VA Dept. of Environmental Quality under a Section 319 grant agreement 16545 to Blue Ridge SWCD.

The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the EPA or DEQ, nor does the EPA or DEQ endorse trade names or recommend the use of commercial products mentioned in this document.

2019 Youth Conservation Camp Applications Available – Apply Now!

The Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District is offering scholarship(s) to a limited number of qualified applicant(s) 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 7 through Saturday, July 13, 2019.  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 2019-2020 academic school year.  Twelfth graders who graduate from high school in May, June, July or August 2019 are eligible to attend.  Previous youth conservation campers cannot attend.  Please contact Kathy Smith, Program Manager/Education Coordinator at Ksmith@brswcd.org or (540) 483-5341 ext. 117.

YCC Group Picture

The 2019 Youth Conservation Camp applications are to be received by the Blue Ridge District office no later than by the close of business on Friday, April 26, 2019.

The scholarship winner(s) will be notified by the district as soon as possible.

Submitted applications will be reviewed and screened by the Blue Ridge SWCD Scholarship Committee. Upon notification, the winner(s) will be required to send $75.00 to the Blue Ridge SWCD.  This $75 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.  Click on the link below to download the 2019 Youth Conservation Camp application:

Become a Project Learning Tree Certified Educator

Be engaged in a hands-on workshop for both formal and non-formal educators

 Investigate environmental topics with indoor and outdoor activities

 Receive PLT’s PreK-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide, correlated to national and state   academic standards . Click here to find out more: VMNH workshop flyer 11-3-2017 (003)

“The most amazing and helpful book in the universe! The students love the activities. It helps make learning more engaging for students, and in turn less stressful for me.”

– Rachel Hill, 7th Grade Science Teacher, Salem Church Middle School, Richmond, Virginia

Youth Conservation Leadership Institute Accepting Applications!

Youth Conservation Leadership Institute(YCLI) is a recognition program for students that focuses on volunteer service and environmental stewardship.

 YCLI began as an expansion of Youth Conservation Camp in an effort to keep students engaged in the environmental topics introduced at camp.

YCLI offers high school students interested in environmental conservation and stewardship an opportunity to build leadership skills and connect with local mentors involved with environmental issues.

Students choose projects that they are interested in to carryout in their community.

As a participant in the Youth Conservation Leadership Institute, students will be required to complete a minimum of 20 hours of community service with a focus in the natural resources conservation field.  Students are encouraged to focus work with the local Soil & Water Conservation District but any work that contributes to pollution prevention, natural resources conservation, and promotion of environmental literacy will be accepted.  All projects must have a confirmed mentor which may be a local SWCD, government agency, community leader, or similar local organization.

YCLI is open to any Virginia high school student committed to the entirety of the program including:

  • Completion of at least 20 community service hours to be approved by the VASWCD staff.
  • Submission of one interim and final report/presentation on the community work completed.
  • Attendance at the final recognition program to be held March 2018.
  • Read an assigned book on environmental leadership for a group discussion

 

Click to access the 2017 -2018 YCLI Application and applications are due to me by Aug 18th, 2017.  For additional information visit http://vaswcd.org/ycli

 

Benjamin Franklin Middle School’s MWEE Gets Face Lift

Benjamin Franklin Middle School’s MWEE “face lift” along Powder Mill Creek is credited to the Pathfinders for Greenways under the direction of Greenways Coordinator Liz Belcher and Mid-Week Crew Director, Bill Gordge.  Since August 2016 the Mid-Week Crew has been diligently working to install best management practices designed to reduce erosion and sediment build-up along Powder Mill Creek located next to Benjamin Franklin Middle School. The strategic design includes a switch back reinforced with crusher run and stone, board walk, wooden bridge access, and relocating certain sections of the newly incorporated circular path.  Additional necessities of this MWEE project include an outdoor classroom complete with instructor podium and observation tables along the section of creek where the approximately 600 6th graders eagerly test the water quality and enjoy the natural beauty of Powder Mill Creek.

To read more about the Benjamin Franklin Middle School’s MWEE Program click on this link:2016-bfms-creek-week-franklin-news-post-review-oct-7th

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Nonpoint Source Success Story: Blackwater River

blackwater-riverAgricultural Best management Practices Improve Aquatic Life in the Blackwater River

 

High sediment loadings led to violations of the general standard for aquatic life use in Franklin County’s Blackwater River.  As a result, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) added two segments of the Lower Blackwater River to the 2008 Clean Water Act (CWA) section 303(d) list of impaired waters. Landowners installed agricultural best management practices (BMPs); these decreased edge-of-field sediment loading and helped improve water quality.  Because of this improvement, DEQ removed two segments of the Blackwater River from Virginia’s 2014 list of impaired waters for biological impairment.  To read more click on this link 2014-delisted-blackwater

Nonpoint Source Success Story: Big Chestnut Creek

big-chestnut-creekInstalling Residential and Agricultural Best Management Practices Reduces Bacteria in Big Chestnut Creek

High bacteria loadings led to violations of Virginia’s Water Quality Standard (WQS) for designated recreation (swimming) use in Big Chestnut Creek.  As a result, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) added the creek to its 2004 Clean Water Act (CWA) section 303(d) list of impaired waters.  From 2007 through 2012, stakeholders installed various agricultural and residential practices in the Big Chestnut Creek watershed that decreased nonpoint source runoff.  As a result, Virginia DEQ removed Big Chestnut Creek from its 2014 list of impaired waters based on attainment of the bacteria WQS. To read more click on this link 2014-delisted-bigchestnut

USDA Service Center Welcomes Research Scientists from China

2016 Chinese Engineer Visit at USDA Service CenterOn Tuesday, August 9, 2016 the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District and Farm Service Agency welcomed three research scientists from China with their area guide Dr.Dave Johnson. The Institute of Hydroecology is under the Ministry of Water Resources (central government), but is also a graduate degree-granting institute of the Chinese Academy of Science. The Institute focuses on both basic and applied research related to ecological and environmental issues resulting from water construction projects with the aim of supporting a sustainable development strategy in China. Since its founding in 1987, the institute has assessed the environmental effects of large hydro-projects such as the Three Gorges Project and the South-to-North Water Diversion project and carried out research on fishery resources in Chinese reservoirs and restoration of the water environment in reservoirs and lakes. Address: 578 Xiongchu Avenue, Wuhan, Hubei, China

  • Photo from left to right: Dr. Dave Johnson (Retired Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Science at Ferrum College), Ms. Xiaojie Pan, Associate Professor and Research Scientist, Applied Ecology Department, Institute of Hydroecology (IHE, MWR & CAS) and she is an environmental biologist with a focus on ecological effects, distribution characteristics, occurrence mechanism, and control measurese for harmful algae,Tony Goff (Farm Service Agency Program Technician), Michael Tabor (Conservation Technician for Blue Ridge SWCD), Mr. Chengyan Wan; Professor, Research Scientist and Director of the Applied Ecology Department, Institute of Hydroecology (IHE, MWR & CAS) and is also Deputy Chief Engineer at IHE,  and Mr. Zhiwei Zheng, Senior Engineer at IHE,  Assistant Professor and Research Scientist, Applied Ecology Department, Institute of Hydroecology (IHE, MWR & CAS).

Goals of visit:

Support and enhance an on-going project in the Three Gorges region, Ecological restoration of Xiaojiang River, which includes:

  1. Evolution of the water environment and ecological mechanisms of algal blooms;
  2.  Construction technology for ecological protection zones;
  3.  Technology for improving riparian habitat;
  4. Pilot demonstration and key technology for fish enhancement and release to prevent and control algal blooms (bio-manipulation);
  5. Key technology research and demonstration for ecological restoration of the Hanfeng Lake wetland.
  • American researchers have always paid attention to the study and application of algal bloom control and ecological restoration, and achieved good results.
  • The objective of this visit is to exchange experiences and achievements on pollution control, eutrophication and algal bloom treatment, riparian zone and river corridor restoration, wetland protection and restoration, monitoring and evaluation of aquatic ecosystems with experts in order to learn additional techniques to support the project and lay the foundation for future research collaborations.
  • To view abstract click on this link:  Journal of Hydroecology abstract-Chinese visitors August 2016

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