MASTER FARMER PROGRAM – SESSION III • NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE • SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICTS • OVERVIEW OF CONSERVATION PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION
Natural Resources Conservation Service • NRCS - WHO WE ARE • ROLE OF CONSERVATION DISTRICTS • INTRODUCTION TO NRCS PLANNING PROCESS – RMS PLANS • QUALITY CRITERIA AND CONSERVATION PRACTICES • CONSERVATION PROGRAMS
WHO WE ARE – NRCS HISTORY On March 11, 1934 – A fierce windstorm from the Great Plains swept fine soil particles across areas as far away as Washington, D.C. Congress decides action must be taken immediately
WHO WE ARE – NRCS HISTORY On April 27, 1935 – The Soil Conservation Service is established in the Department of Agriculture to help landowners carry out soil conservation practices.
WHO WE ARE – NRCS HISTORY On February 27, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt urges governors to enact conservation district law that will allow landowners to organize soil and water conservation districts.
A Partnership Approach Since the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s, NRCS has worked with conservation districts and others throughout the US to help landowners, as well as Federal, State, Tribal and local governments and community groups.
THE ROLE OF CONSERVATION DISTRICTS The purpose for the formation of the Soil and Water Conservation District is to keep decision making on natural resource conservation matters at the local level.
THE LOUISIANA SOIL & WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT PROGRAM An important link in local, state, federal and private cooperation in all conservation and natural resource projects
What is a Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD)? • Local units of government • Established by resident landowners • Governed by Board of 5 Supervisors
Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Louisiana • 43 SWCD’s statewide • 27 SWCD’s comprised of one parish, 16 are multi-parish • All but 4 delineated by Parish boundaries • 5 SWCD Areas
SWCD Boards of Supervisors • 5 Supervisors or Board Members • Landowners • 3 locally elected • 2 appointed • SWCD employees • SWCD monthly board meetings
Role of the SWCD • Represent SWCD residents in steering NRCS programs to meet local resource concerns • Oversee Employees/Conservation planning • Approval of conservation plans or projects • Harness $ and other resources for local conservation efforts • Enter into additional agreements • Conservation Education • Equipment rental
RESOURCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM PLAN Resource Management System plans are voluntary, site specific, comprehensive and action oriented plans. The plan contains natural resource information and a record of decisions made by the client. The plan will describe the schedule of operation and activities needed to solve identified natural resource concerns.
The Nine Steps of Conservation Planning • 1 - IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM OR CONCERN • This is generally the step in which the operator contacts the local NRCS/SWCD Field office to request assistance or more information about technical assistance with a resource concern (ex. interest in fixing an erosion problem)
2 - DETERMINE THE OBJECTIVES • During this step the decision maker begins to determine practical objectives and becomes actively involved in the intensive thought and decision making process required when developing a conservation plan
3 - INVENTORY THE RESOURCES • Existing features of the farm are recorded and documented at this time. (Aerial photos, soil maps, soil samples, farm records, and site visits are used to determine the resource conditions and physical features such as location of ditches, water control structures, etc)
4 - ANALYZE RESOURCE DATA • During this step an analysis of the data is conducted with the decision maker to identify, quantify, indicate, and address resource concerns. • New concerns or opportunities usually arise at this time during the planning process
First Four Steps of the Conservation Planning Process 1 - IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM OR CONCERN 2 - DETERMINE THE OBJECTIVES 3 - INVENTORY THE RESOURCES 4 - ANALYZE RESOURCE DATA Critical Steps
5 - FORMULATE ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS • During this step several alternative plans are created and reviewed • Types of residue management (seasonal, mulch till, ridge till, no-till, etc)? • Terrace or Grassed Waterway? • Choose alternate pesticides?
6 - EVALUATE ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS • Decision makers evaluate the proposed courses of action to determine which one best meets their objectives and solves the identified resource problems or concerns
7 - MAKE DECISIONS • The final decision on a planned course of action is made here. • The plan is written and plan maps (with features) are produced. A logical sequence of events is established. The Resource Management System (RMS) plan is completed.
8 - IMPLEMENT PLAN • The land manager and decision maker is now ready to implement the plan of action. • Technical Assistance is provided to properly install needed practices and monitor conditions. • Progress is documented in the plan.
9 - EVALUATION OF RESULTS • Results are reviewed after implementation of the plan has occurred. • Ongoing technical assistance is provided to evaluate results and address changes in the managers objectives and use of new technology.
NEPA • Resource Management Plans must comply with NEPA in order to be eligible for technical and financial assistance.
ENVIRONMENTAL DOCUMENTS • Environmental Evaluation (EE) • LA-CPA-52 • Environmental Assessment (EA) • Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) • Notice of Intent (NOI)
ENVIRONMENTAL DOCUMENTS The Louisiana Environmental Evaluation (EE) is “a concurrent part of the planning process in which the potential long-term and short-term impacts of an action on people, their physical surroundings, and nature are evaluated and alternative actions explored”. The LA-CPA-52 form is used to document the results of the environmental evaluation.
Threatened & Endangered Species Natural Areas. Scenic Beauty Floodplain Management Wetlands Prime & Unique Farmlands Coastal Zone Areas Wild and Scenic Rivers and Streams Riparian Areas Cultural Resources NATURAL RESOURCES
THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECIES The Louisiana black bear inhabits bottomland hardwood forests. Conservation practices generally provide positive impacts for threatened and endangered species. Threatened and Endangered Species may be either federal or state listed plants and animals.
THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECIES • The Bald Eagle prefers to nest in and near cypress swamps. They are concentrated mostly in southern Louisiana. The populations are increasing. The eagle is protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
NATURAL AREAS AND SCENIC BEAUTY • Natural areas and scenic beauty are present throughout the rural Louisiana landscape. Natural areas are those areas that have been disturbed very little by man. Natural areas may be designated by the federal government or private entities. Scenic beauty may be created as a result of our activities on the land (buffers, ponds, etc.)
FLOOD PLAIN MANAGEMENT • Technical and financial assistance for the following land uses is compatible with Executive Order 11988 (Flood Plain Management): Agricultural flood plains that have been used for producing food, feed, forage, fiber, or oilseed for at least 3 of the last 5 years before the request for assistance. Normal agricultural activities are not regulated.
WETLANDS OF LOUISIANA • Many different types of wetlands occur in Louisiana. In order to be classified as a wetland, an area must have hydrophytic vegetation, hydric soils and hydrology. Always consult NRCS and/or the COE before beginning any construction activities in wetlands (Swampbuster, EO 11990, CWA)
PRIME AND UNIQUE FARMLANDS • Prime Farmland-land that has the best combination of physical, chemical and biological characteristics for producing food, feed, fiber and oil seed crops. • Unique Farmland - land other than prime farmland that is used for the production of specific high-value food and fiber crops.
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT AREAS • Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) • Section 307 of CZMA specifies that actions or activities with the Coastal Zone done by a Federal Agency or on behalf of or through a Federal Agency must be consistent with the State’s Coastal Zone Management Plan.
RIPARIAN AREAS • Riparian areas are ecosystems that occur along watercourses or water bodies. They are distinctly different from the surrounding lands because of unique soil and vegetative characteristics that are strongly influenced by free or unbound water in the soil.
CULTURAL RESOURCES • Cultural resources are the traces of all the past activities and accomplishments of people. They include tangible traces such as historic districts, sites, buildings, structures; traces of less tangible objects such as dance forms, aspects of folk life, cultural or religious practices; historical documents; and some landscapes, vistas, and cemeteries.
MAJOR RESOURCES The 5 major resources to address on any farm or ranch: Soil Water Air Plant Animal + HUMAN
SOIL (EROSION, HEALTH, CONTAMINANTS) The resource concerns associated with soil include erosion, health, and contaminants. These resource concerns include sheet and rill, ephemeral and gully erosion, soil compaction, structure and organic matter and soil contamination from nutrients, salinity, heavy metals and pesticides.
SOIL EROSION Erosion occurs primarily as sheet and rill, ephemeral, and gully erosion. The minimum level of treatment requires that erosion does not exceed the soil loss tolerance of the various soils on the farm. Most soils in Louisiana has a soil loss tolerance of 5 tons/acre
HOW IS SOIL EROSION PREDICTED? Sheet and Rill Erosion is determined by the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE)