Pasture Management Workshop: Weed Control and Old Field Restoration

Is your pasture or hayfield overrun with buttercup and/or smooth bedstraw? Do you have old fields that you would like to bring back? On Tuesday, July 23 at 6:30 pm, Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District is hosting a workshop with Rick Kersbergen, Waldo County Extension Educator in Sustainable Dairy and Forage Systems. Rick will address the problems of how to get weeds under control and manage your fields to keep them under control. Both chemical and non-chemical methods of control will be discussed. The program will be held at Knox-Lincoln County Extension at 377 Manktown Rd, Waldoboro, just across the road from Medomak Valley High School campus. Bring your problems and questions for Rick to solve! NRCS grazing sticks and soil test boxes and forms will be available. This program is free, but please register by contacting Knox-Lincoln SWCD at 596-2040 or info@knox-lincoln.org. Let us know if you need special accommodations to attend.
Richard Kersbergen, an Extension Professor and a cooperating research scientist with the New England Plant Soil and Water lab, is a national expert and leader in the Organic Dairy industry. He has served as the state contact for the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program of the USDA and has just finished as chair of the Northeast Pasture Consortium. Over the years, Rick has worked as an extension agent, farm manager for the UMaine Experiment Station and also worked to support hundreds of Cooperative Extension volunteer Master Gardeners and responded to thousands of home horticulture client calls.
For more information and publications on pastures and a map of the workshop location, visit www.knox-lincoln.org

MACD supports State funding for Conservation Districts

Conservation Districts are one of the best bargains in government. Districts are administered by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, but are locally controlled by elected boards of supervisors who volunteer their time to help land owners address soil and water conservation needs.

Districts are non-regulatory with a long history of encouraging voluntary cooperation to improve the productivity of our soils while preventing erosion, loss of nutrients, and adverse impacts on water quality. Districts are trusted by local property owners to provide objective advice and technical assistance

Most importantly, Districts are cost-effective, low-overhead organizations. They can deliver conservation services more affordably than most federal and state agencies, because they are located in the communities they serve.

State funding represents only about 15 percent of District budgets. Our Districts have been highly entrepreneurial in using State funds to match grants from federal agencies and private foundations with contributions from counties, municipalities, businesses, and private land owners.

Presently, the State of Maine provides $280,000 a year to Districts. That amount has not changed since 2001. With inflation over the past 12 years, we are seeing signs that the capacity of Districts to deliver conservation services is beginning to erode. District employees have been looking for ways to collaborate to increase their efficiency.

LD 377, sponsored by Rep. Russell Black of Wilton,  would provide an additional $200,000 per year to bring each District’s state allocation from $17,500 to $30,000. Based on our past experience, Districts will be able to leverage this increased funding to provide an additional $2-3 million in conservation programs to support our natural resource-based economy.

We know budgets are tight and there’s never a good time to ask for money. But we believe the time is right to invest in Conservation Districts. With the current session of the Maine Legislature due to close this week, now is the time to e-mail or phone to support passage of LD 377.

Farm Bill update

From the National Association of Conservation Districts:

House to begin Farm Bill debate – Contact your Representatives TODAY!

Greetings,

The House Rules Committee will meet at 5:00 p.m. today to discuss the rule for general debate on the Farm Bill. The rule they agree to will likely be brought to a vote on Tuesday, followed by Farm Bill debate. According to House Majority leader Eric Cantor, the last vote of the week will be held on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. with no votes expected on Friday. Next week the House is in session Tuesday through Friday, followed by a week of recess for the 4th of July holiday.

Amendments

NACD joined a coalition letter to Chairman Sessions and Ranking Member Slaughter of the Rules Committee, stating “as you consider a rule for debate of H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, the undersigned organizations write to urge you to include among the amendments for consideration language contained in H.R. 2260, the Crop Insurance Accountability Act of 2013, authored by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).” This is the mirror House legislation to the compliance deal reached in the Senate. As part of that deal, we also oppose amendments to crop insurance, and we anticipate they may come from Rep. Kind (D-WI), Rep, Carney (D-DE), Rep. Radel (R-FL), and Rep Speier (D-CA).

We have not heard of other conservation amendments, but we will be tracking the Floor all week to keep you up to date. Please remember to continue calling your Members of Congress to tell them that we need a Farm Bill – let’s get this passed on the House Floor so we can get to conference! Once you make contact, please report back to Kimberly Koch at kimberly-koch@nacdnet.org to let her know, and include any feedback you receive.

Agriculture Appropriations

Last Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee approved the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommitee’s bill for fiscal year ending September 30, 2014. This bill may head to the House Floor right after the Farm Bill. The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is expected to mark up its bill tomorrow.

In the House bill, the Conservation Operations allocation is $810 million, which is an improvement over our current Continuing Resolution for fiscal year 2013, which allocates $768 million. Of the total $810 million, about $714 is for Technical Assistance. Also Watershed Rehabilitation received $12million for fiscal year 2014.

There has been no signal that House Interior Appropriations will bring its bill any time soon.

More on the Farm Bill today is at the Politico website:

http://politi.co/1bLL2kd

Maine Community Foundation Awards Grant for New Conservation Summer Camp!

For the past several years the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District has offered a Natural Resources and Agricultural Summer Camp to children ages 7-12. Starting this summer, the PCSWCD will be offering a Teen Conservation Camp for youth ages 13-18! With generous funding provided by the Maine Community Foundation’s Piscataquis County Fund, the PCSWCD will be offering this new full day, two week summer camp so that we can provide continuous exciting learning opportunities for youth of all ages in the Piscataquis County region.

The PCSWCD Summer Camp makes learning fun and gives youth opportunities to learn about agriculture and natural resources first-hand from farmers and natural resource professionals that provide lively presentations, unique demonstrations and engaging hands-on activities. Each day has a different theme to increase the youths’ knowledge about how productive farmland and forests, clean air and drinking water, are all important for a healthy natural ecosystem that benefits our community and the people who live in Piscataquis County.

The summer camp schedule for children ages 7-12 is half day sessions from 9:00AM-Noon, Monday-Friday. Week One is Natural Resources Week and runs from July 15th-19th. Week Two is Agriculture Week and runs from July 29th-August 2nd. Registration forms for this camp were sent home via partnerships with our local schools. There is an early signup rate for this summer camp for registrations postmarked by June 20th. Pre-registration is required by Tuesday, July 9th.

The summer camp schedule for youth ages 13-18 is full day sessions from 9:00AM-4:00PM, Monday-Friday. Week One is Natural Resources Week and runs from August 5th-9th. Week Two is Agriculture Week and runs from August 12th-16th. Pre-registration is required by Tuesday, July 30th.

The integrated curriculum for the youth ages 13-18 will also include learning about the history of our region’s agricultural entrepreneurship and technological innovations, as well as sustainable agriculture. The youth will learn about plant and animal science, nutritional aspects of food, and how our local food and fiber are processed and moved to markets. Youth will also have an opportunity to explore our rich natural resource heritage by going on field trips to learn about the forest products industry, watersheds and water quality, renewable energy, wildlife species and their habitats that contribute to our region’s biodiversity, and other related conservation biology topics.

In addition to the Maine Community Foundation grant for the Teen Conservation Camp, these camps are made possible due to support from the local community businesses, schools, and civic groups, the guest speakers who donate their time to put on presentations, and also the farm families that host our youth. For more information and for pre-registration, please contact the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District by emailing info@piscataquisswcd.org, calling 564-2321, extension 3, or stopping by our office at 42 Pine Crest Drive in Dover-Foxcroft.

About the Maine Community Foundation: The Maine Community Foundation is a statewide nonprofit created by and for the people of Maine. The foundation is a philanthropic leader in building sustainable and vibrant communities for all Maine people. Maine Community Foundation grants cover the full range of nonprofit undertakings, with a special focus in the areas of education, community economic development, the environment, and civic engagement. The Community Building Grant Program, which includes the Piscataquis County Fund, seeks to support organizations and programs that recognize and build on a community’s strengths and assets. The Piscataquis County Fund was established in 1986 by area businesses and individuals to ensure that the county would have the local charitable resources to address community issues. Once a year, grants from the Piscataquis County Fund are awarded to nonprofits to support innovative projects. All grant decisions are made by local volunteers with strong connections to, and knowledge about, Maine communities.

Demonstration Forest Volunteer Work Day and Invasive Pests and Plants Workshop

The Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District has rescheduled the Volunteer Trail Clearing Day and Invasive Pests and Plants Workshop at the Demonstration Forest in Williamsburg to Saturday, June 22nd. These events were originally scheduled for Saturday, June 8th.

We are seeking additional volunteer help with general trail clean-up and other projects from 9:00AM to Noon and from 1:30PM to 4:00PM, to get the forest ready for summer visitors. This is a great opportunity for civic groups and families to get involved in the stewardship of our local public forest, as well as for any students seeking community service hours. A bar-b-que luncheon will be held at Noon.

An Invasive Pest and Plants Workshop with Presenter Ann Gibbs will be held from 12:15PM to 1:15PM at the Demonstration Forest Outdoor Classroom, to teach people about the pests that may pose a threat to our woodlands in Maine. Gibbs is the State Horticulturist with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. She works closely with the horticulture industry in the state, both in a regulatory and educational capacity. She has been working on invasive species issues for the past 15 years at the state, regional and national levels. Some of these efforts include working to prevent the introduction of Asian long horned beetle and emerald ash borer, minimize the spread of hemlock woolly adelgid, release beetles as biocontrol for purple loosestrife and certify facilities to enable export of firewood.

Pre-registration is required for the workshop and b-b-que, and is also recommended for the trail clearing so teams can be organized to clear the forest trail system. You are welcome to register and participate in the workshop even if you are unable to assist with trail clearing – we welcome all participation in our community educational forest. Please contact the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District at 564 – 2321, extension 3 or at info@piscataquisswcd.org for more information or to pre-register for the Invasive Pests and Plants Workshop and/or for the Demonstration Forest Trail Clearing Day.

CONTACT:
Joanna Tarrazi
Executive Director
Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District
42 Engdahl Drive
Dover-Foxcroft, ME 04426
Email: joanna.tarrazi@me.nacdnet.net
Phone: 564-2321, Extension 3