LFT Awarded New Slate of Conservation Grants
January 26, 2021
Lancaster Farmland Trust is excited to announce that we've received funding for three new water conservation projects on Lancaster County farms.
The first is a $640,947.00 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) through the Growing Greener Watershed Protection Program. This grant allows LFT to expand the work we have already done (through previous grants) to help farmers create cleaner water in the Lower Conestoga watershed in East Lampeter Township. This work began in 2015 when LFT was awarded a Technical Capacity Grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to conduct assessments on all 148 farms within the township. Until this technical capacity project, agricultural conservation practices and operations data were never collected on East Lampeter Township farms. With agricultural data collected and cataloged, LFT and partners completed a "MapShed" modeling program that highlighted agricultural conservation practices as the most advantageous and cost-effective ways to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution. In 2017, LFT was awarded another NFWF grant to implement those conservation practices on several strategic farms within the township. Work on several of those farms is now complete – critical conservation practices like buffers, fencing, animal crossings, stabilized walkways, increased manure storage, and barnyard improvements are in the ground and improving Lancaster County's water quality. The generous grant from DEP in 2021 will allow several more properties in the township that lacked funding to complete these projects on their own to join the growing numbers of farms in Lancaster County committed to the fight for clean and clear water.
The second, a $274,405.00 grant, also from the Pennsylvania DEP through the Growing Greener Watershed Protection Program, will build on LFT's previous work in the Mill Creek Watershed. In 2014, Upper Leacock Township engaged LFT to explore a strategic, cost-effective method for water quality improvement in an unnamed tributary of the Mill Creek. LFT conducted assessments on all farms in the designated area and, using the information gathered, developed a set of recommendations for additional practices that should be implemented. If implemented on strategic farms, these recommendations would result in maximum load reductions and significant progress toward meeting the township's pollution reduction goals. A grant from NFWF in 2015 led to the implementation of 18 new terrain-specific conservation practices on two farms with impressive nutrient and sediment reductions for the Mill Creek Watershed. The third farm in this project did not receive enough funding for completion. This new grant from DEP will complete the work started for this patient farming family and put an additional 13 conservation practices into the ground. This critical funding will also support the assessments of all 182 farms in Upper Leacock Township, 30 new agricultural erosion and sediment plans (Ag E&S plans) and/or manure management plans, and conservation practices on additional farms in the Mill Creek Watershed.
A third grant, provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) for $494,346.96, will expand on an existing initiative in Salisbury Township, Lancaster County. This innovative project intends to drive the agricultural community toward environmental compliance and sustainability. Several years ago, funded by the William Penn Foundation, LFT completed BMP assessments on nearly 500 farms across the Pequea Creek Watershed. The success of that effort led to a grant from NFWF to create continuous improvement plans on six farms, all Plain Sect owned. These plans resulted in more than 95,000 lbs. of nutrient reduction in the watershed. With the success of that project came the idea to work specifically in the Pequea Creek Watershed headwaters and expand the initiative. In 2019, NFWF funded LFT's Small Watershed grant, Plain Sect Community and Market Engagement for Clean Water, enabling LFT's Agricultural Outreach Coordinator to personally visit every farmer in the watershed and guide them through an on-farm assessment process. Farmers who needed new or updated conservation plans received them and are now primed for conservation implementation on their farms. This initiative has led to a new opportunity – an overabundance of willing farmers ready to commit to conservation and improved water quality. The project will result in new conservation practices implemented on five of these willing farms in the Pequea Creek Watershed to reduce polluted runoff and restore riparian buffers.
Through our expanding conservation work among the agricultural community, LFT knows that we must utilize trusted farm advisors to deliver tailored and consistent outreach and engagement opportunities for conservation projects to be successful. LFT staff take the time to create relationships with landowners in the community and build trust between our staff and farmers. We meet with farmers one-on-one, doing the slow but critical work of addressing each farmers' concerns and guiding them through what to some, may seem like radical changes to generations-old farming practices. We are proud of our organization's conservation efforts in the agricultural community in Lancaster County and look forward to keeping up the fight for clean, clear water.