Lancaster County Gets Grant for Streambank Fencing Program

LANCASTER, Pa. — Protecting Lancaster County’s water resources has been an ongoing effort for several decades. Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest and funding available for landowners looking to do more for their local watersheds.

After all, as the Lancaster County Conservation District points out, “clean water affects all who live here, through the food we eat, crops we grow, products we manufacture, and overall quality of the life we live.”

There exists a developing synergy toward healthy waterways that continues to expand among both regional conservation groups and local organizations throughout Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. This collaboration acknowledges that no single policy, organization or program can tackle or solve complex social or environmental problems alone.

As a part of this gaining momentum, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Altria Group Inc. have partnered to award a grant to Lancaster County Conservation District. The award offers incentive payments to farmers installing fencing around streams to exclude livestock access.

The program will pay an incentive rate per linear foot of fencing installed, including one cattle crossing and alternative watering site. Design and permitting will be done free of charge by the Lancaster County Conservation District staff. Minimum setback of fencing is 15 feet, however 35 feet is preferred and is a requirement for other funded best management practice programs. Buffered areas can still be flash grazed or mowed. The program will also provide a written Agricultural E&S Plan and Manure Management Plan for farms that do not already have one.

The program is part of a regional focus centered on restoring the health of Lancaster’s local watersheds. Fencing a stream from livestock not only reduces nutrients and bacteria from entering waterways, but improves the overall health of the herd. Streambanks that are open to livestock become trampled by herds as they enter and exit the water, destroying vital habitat for aquatic life. By allowing a vegetative buffer to grow, plants develop deeper and stronger roots which prevent erosion in the long term.

For more information or to apply for funding, contact Dennis Eby at the Lancaster County Conservation District at 717-874-2552. The deadline to apply for the fencing program is Dec. 14.

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