Maine's Conservation Districts Highlighted--A Great Accolade!
State Officials stress the importance of Conservation Districts to soil health, water quality and wise use of the land, forest and water resources
Released from Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry-Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Augusta - Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) officials are highlighting the important work of Maine Soil and Water Conservation Districts in speeches in Slowhegan and Gorham this week. Commissioner Walt Whitcomb and Deputry Commissioner Dave Lavway are scheduled to speak at meetings of the Maine State Grange and Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District about the value of Conservation Districts to Maime communities, agriculture and the natural resource economy.
"The last Census of Agriculture highlighted the strength of Maine agriculture and its potential to put more food on the table, provide jobs and create economic opportunities," said Governor Paul R. LePage at a debate for the Governor's race. "There are more Maine farms now, and the market value of Maine agricutural products has increased 24 percent. Soil and Water Conservation Districts are an important part of that success. For the amount of money invested, Conservation Districts provide taxpayers witht the biggest bang for the buck in natural resource management. The valuable work that they do does not receive enough attention or financial support."
"Maine needs to develop its natural resources economy through prevention of soil erosion, improvement of soil health, protection and restoration of water quality and wise use of our land, forests, and water," said DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. "Meeting these challenges requires a public-private partnership that Conservation Districts have developed over the past 70 years. The LePage Administration has actively strengthened an important partnership that improves natural resource management."
"Agriculture is growing in Maine, with more farms and more acres devoted to producing locally-grown food with sustainable farming practices," said Deputy Commissioner Lavway. "The Maine Soil and Water Conservation Districts have recognized this trend and are developing programs to promote soil health and public awareness of agriculture."
Benefits of Soil and Water Conservation Districts:
Soil and Water Conservation Districts help prevent soil erosion, improve soil health, protect and restore water quality. They promote wise use of land, forest and water resources. They achieve these objectives by establishing public-private partnerships.
Conservation Districts bring numerous partners together--federal, state agencies, local governments, farmers, woodlot owners, lakeshore residents, business and industry -- to find effective solutions to local natural resource problems.
Soil and Water Conservation Districts are important partners in the merged Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. They epitomize the collaborative approach to natural resource managemnent that Governor LePage envisoned when he and the Legislature combined these three agencies into Maine's largest natural resource Department.
Conservation Districts extend the Department's ability to reach local landowners. Districts are one of the most trusted sources for unbiased information on natural resource management.
Maine's Conservation Districts leverage over $15 million in grants, appropriations, cash contributions, and volunteer labor to conserve, improve and sustain natural resources. Every State dolloar invested in Conservation Districts produces over $18 in additonal funding for conservation work.
District Supervisor Election
Election Superintendent Jane Heikkinen announced, "Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District Election Date is set for November 19, 2014 for the position of Board Supervisor. Incumbent Paul Roseberry of Bowdoinham, organic dairy farmer, is an uncontested candidate. All ballots must be postmarked and returned to the District Office by 4 p.m on November 19, 2014. All registered voters living within the boundaries of Androscoggin and Sagdahoc Counties are eligible to vote. Ballots may be requested by calling 753-9400 ext 400 or picked up in person at the District Office. Ballots may also be downloaded here:
Organic Dairy Farmer, Paul Roseberry of Bowdoinham, has served as Board of Supervisors for the Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District from2006 to present. Currently Roseberry serves at Chairman on the Board of Supervisors. and is running to be re-elected for another three year term. He has faithfully worked witht he Conservation District's leadership and staff and brought a representation of the needs of the local organic dairy farmers. He is a graduate of Richmond High School and has worked with his brother, Joe, for many decades on the family organic dairy farm.
Paul's integrity and knowledge/understanding of natural resource issues has resulted in his being respected by the members of the Maine State Grange, Maine Soil and Water Conservation Districts and residents of Sagadahoc County. He has served with the Grange on the Agricultural Committee; enrolled in courses to enrich his learning and enhance his skills; implemented many types of conservation practices on the farm to improve production and protect the property soil and water quality. Becaus of his passion foa stewardship of the environment and its natural resources, Roseberry brings a valuable and vocal representation of the conservation needs to the Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District.
Southwestern Regional Envirothon Competition
What is Envirothon? A state and nationwide natural resource problem-solving competition for grades 9-12. Students compete outdoors in five natural resource areas: aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife and a current national environmental issue. Regional winners compete at state level and the State of Maine winning team goes on to the North American Envirothon finals.
2014 State Champions out of four regional competions: Mt Ararat of Topsham. Congratualtions, team!
2015 Southwestern Regional Envirothon is set for May 14 at Packard-Littlefield Farm, 76 Littlefield Road, Lisbon. Schools are urged to sign up early to ensure getting you first choice.
There are many opportunities for you to participate in supporting high school students in your community: volunteer as a team coach, donate $75 to help with team traveling costs to the Regional competition, or make a contribution to cover awards and lunches for the teams attending. Call Office Manager Jane Heikkinen at the Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District office at 207-753-9400 ext 400 for specifics.
Andy Valley Succesful Farmer Series
Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District received funding from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentive Program Agreement #68-1218-13-17 to offer "The Andy Valley Successful Farmer". For beginning farmers, in business under ten years, there are many opportunities available through the Beginner Farmers Resource Network. Check this site out: http://www.umaine.edu/beginning-farmer-resource-network/.
During the fall of 2013 and early 2014 we held 5 workshop sessions. These included Forest Harvesting Management, Vegetable and Fruit Crop Management, Soil Health and Nutrient Management, Pest Management for Fruit and Vegetables, Transitioning To and Organic Production, and Irrigation for Field and High Tunnel Production.
Professional Development Workshop
Maine Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Project was funded through a grant with SARE. February 24, 2014 a Professional Develoment Workshop was held for those providing services to farmers.
The Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District hosted a meeting of the Androscoggin and Sagadahoc Counties USDA Local Work Group Meeting on December 19, 2013. Fifteen people attended the meeting.
The local resource categories and percentages in the funding pools will be animal waste with 75%, cropland and pasture with 20%, and small farms with 5% for 2014. The Local Working Group identified and prioritized the resource concerns and points allocated to these concerns:
High 33 points for questions related to the resource concerns
Integrated pest management (vegetables, small berries and orchards)
Soil Health/Cropland Issues
Nutrient management (waste mangement and soil health)
Water quality (surface and groundwater)
Erosion (farmland and streambank)
Medium 10 points for questions associated with the resource concerns
Community Engagement (Ag education and recreation activities on farms that support local communities
Forestry (timber stand improvement)
Low 6 points with questions related to the resource concerns
Other Workshops Held
The first of six sessions in "The Andy Valley Success Farmer Series--Forest Harvesting Management" was held October 22, beginning at 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Leeds Town Hall, 8 Community Drive. Registration began at 8:30 a.m. with an introduction to Multi-use management, reading the forested landscape, silvicultural concepts and working with your forester; state regulations for boundaries, notification, shoreland zoning and tree growth tax program; in-woods management practices during/after harvesting to prevent erosion and protect water quality; developing and maintaining access roads and NRCS related gprograms. The afternoon included an on-site woodlot tour at The Kennebec Land Trusts' Curtis Homestead with more discussion of the morning topics.
To see the topics covered at the Forest Harvest Management Workshop, click here:
The Farm Pond Walk and Talk Workshop was held Saturday, October 19, 2013, from 8:30 to 12 noon. This workshop was held on the Hemond Farm and MotorX area, at 695 Woodman Hill Road, Minot. The session included inside classroom time and an outside walk to three farm ponds for further discussion on farm pond uses.
This workshop was relaxed and informal, covered new pond construction tips, built pond maintenance ideas, planning for pond use and provided opportunity to learn from questions of the other attendees and answers that were given.
The Farm Pond Walk and Tak Workshop was sponsored by the Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District, hosted by the Hemond Farm and facilitated by USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Agriculutral Engineer Cani Gilpatric. This workshop was offered as a result of requests received from farmers. However, please note that USDA NRCS does not provide cost sharing, technical assistance or construction engineering for new farm pond development.
Other Workshops Offered in 2013
Lake Auburn Watershed Septic Social was held Saturday, September 7, at the Volunteer Monitoring Program Office, 24 Maple Hill Road, Auburn from 8:00 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m.
All septic systems located within a watershed and all septic systems have the potential to impact a nearby waterbody. Learn how you can save money, extend you septic system's life and protect Lake Auburn. This septic social was offered to bring answers to your questions, help you stay on the right side of the law, and offer tips on preventing a system failure. The fantastic speakers and good company made it a fun morning. This Septic Social was offered with the collaborating efforts of Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District, Auburn Water District, Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Commission, Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, W E Fenderson Septic Service, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. The Sun Journal published a guest editorial about the event written by Heather Mccarthy. We extend our thanks to both the Sun Journal and Heather.
The first 15 Lake Auburn watershed residents who attended the Septic Social received a coupon from the Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Commission to add to the discount offered by W.E. Fenderson Septic Services for a septic tank pump out.
New Standards for Timber Harvesting in Shoreland Areas
Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District and Maine Forest Service partnered to offer this FREE workshop for code enforcement officers, woodlot owners, forest operators and any others interested. The workshop was held in the USDA Service Center's Conference Room at 254 Goddard Road, Lewiston.
The topics covered the new laws, options for municipalities and key changes for timber harvesting. The instructors took time to address questions and offered to do follow up visits.
A Maine Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction and Certification Program
Professional Development Workshop was held with about 30 people participating on June 20, 2012 at Maple Hill Farm Inn, 11 Inn Road, Hallowell, Maine.
Earth Smart is a Maine agricultural emissions reduction certification program developed by collaborating partners to provide a whole farm assessment and help farmers prioritize recommended practices that will reduce emissions on the farm while providing additional co-benefits. The program will recognize farmers for the implementation of good agricultural practices and will help position them to take advantage of current and future regional and national carbon offset markets, if they wish to do so.
The Agricultural Emission Reduction program was developed by: Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District, Kennebec County Soil and Water Conservation District, Maine Department of Agriculture, Maine Forest Service, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Maine Rural Partners, AgMatters LLC and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Additional support and contributions were received from Maine Farm Bureau, Maine Association of Conservation Districts, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Farm Credit East, Time and Tide Resource and Development Area, Northeast SARE, National Wildlife Federation; Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences; Natural Resources Conservation Service; Ivan Fernandez; Juan Alvez and others who have donated time to edit and comment on the documents. We thank all who have been involved, without their help this program would not have been possible.
New Farmer Workshop Series
Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District partnered with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine Department of Agriculture and Maine Forest Service to provide a basic introduction to agriculture issues in a seven part series.