Western Lake Erie and an algae bloom as seen from a Landsat-8 satellite in September 2017. (NASA/USGS)

New grant program to enhance Ohio’s Lake Erie water quality

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded ODA’s Division of Soil and Water Conservation a five-year, $8-million grant to assist in Ohio’s work to improve water quality in Lake Erie.

Administered by the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), the grant funding will support Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative by assisting farmers in developing nutrient management plans and conservation practices in Crawford, Erie, Huron, Marion, Ottawa, Richland, Sandusky, Seneca, Shelby, and Wyandot counties.  

Farmers in these counties can begin enrolling through their local soil & water district office in late summer. 

“Our partnership with NRCS will pave a way for Ohio to cover even greater ground in its statewide goals of clean water through Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative,” said Dorothy Pelanda, Ohio Department of Agriculture Director. “Ohio is grateful for NRCS and its insight as we work together to improve water quality through proven conservation best practices.” 

The RCPP grant to Ohio is part of USDA’s $330 million investment in 85 locally driven, public-private partnerships to address climate change, improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat, and protect agricultural viability.

“Regional Conservation Partnership Program is public-private partnerships working at their best,” said John Wilson, NRCS Acting State Conservationist in Ohio. “This new project capitalizes on the power of local partnerships to implement innovative solutions and improve the health of the Western Lake Erie Water Basin by enhancing water quality and soil productivity.” 

Through RCPP, conservation partners work in collaboration with NRCS to help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners throughout the nation to implement systems that conserve water and soil resources, improve the health of wildlife habitats, and increase climate resilience.  

Additional information on how to apply for the grants is forthcoming. Grants will be distributed in partnership with Ohio’s local soil and water conservation districts, The Ohio State University, Heidelberg University – National Center for Water Quality Research, Ohio Farm Bureau, the Nature Conservancy, Ohio Agribusiness Association, Ohio Corn and Wheat and Ohio Agricultural Conservation Initiative.

For more information about conservation assistance available through the RCPP, visit Ohio’s USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service website at http://www.oh.nrcs.usda.gov.

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