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NC Farmers Plant Seeds of Water and Stream Conservation


Monday, June 6, 2016   

ELKIN, N.C. – Streams meander through North Carolina’s western mountains and the farms that dot the map, regardless of property lines.

And now those farm owners are connecting with water conservation groups to do what the farmers can to maintain and protect the waterways.

Eddie Harris owns farmland in Elkin and participated in the program, which is managed by Resource Institute, a nonprofit group that helps find and utilize funds to maximize their benefit.

"I think it's a great opportunity for farmers and landowners to take advantage of some of the conservation programs available to them,” Harris says. “It was a great benefit to the stream and the water quality in that stream, and it remains intact and has healed over and quite natural looking."

Since 2013, the Western North Carolina Stream Restoration Initiative has completed more than 80 projects.

The Initiative covers 33 counties in the mountains and foothills of western North Carolina. It undertakes projects with private landowners and utilizes funds available from the National Resource Conservation Service and matching state funds.

Brushy Fork Environmental Consulting is one of the firms with which the Resource Institute contracts to identify streams and implement projects. The firm’s president, Adam Williams, says one of the best parts of his job is solving a practical problem for farmers while helping to preserve water sources for generations to come.

"Put yourself in their shoes,” he says. “You're a landowner with a stream problem and a water quality issue.
And you know most farmers, they're more concerned with erosion on their pasture. So that's why they call us and we're meeting all these goals and we’re stopping the erosion at little to no cost to them."

Brushy Fork and other environmental firms are charged with looking for potential projects in counties and vetting them to be sure they qualify for the funding.

While some may not connect the agriculture business with efforts for land conservation, Harris says don't underestimate the value farmers place on their environment.

"Farmers are probably the premier conservationists in the United States, and they know more about conservation and protecting soil and water resources as much as anyone, and they're on the front line of that," he states.

Landowners who believe they may qualify can contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District, National Resource Conservation District Office or Resource Institute.

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