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The Hampden Hampshire Conservation District has received a National Association of Conservation District (NACD) Technical Assistance Grant to further work begun on the Mill River and Lake Warner watershed through the Healthy Watershed Initiative. Through this Commonwealth of MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Grant, HHCD identified specific farmers and landowners who would benefit from one-on-one conservation planning assistance based on their proximity to the Watershed and several specific criteria ranging from soil erodability to runoff potential. The NACD Grant will enable the hiring of a Conservation Planner charged with engaging as many of these landowner/farmers as possible, with a specific goal of reaching 25% of the properties identified and working them to develop farm and conservation objectives. Following this engagement, the Planner will perform a full assessment, analyzing and evaluating current practices, and with the technical assistance of the Hadley NRCS office, recommend Best Management Practices (BMPs) and steps that can be taken to put them into place. Work is expected to begin in July 2019.
Healthy Watershed Initiative
Commonwealth of MA Conservation District Innovation Grant, FY 2017-2019
The Healthy Watershed Initiative was funded by a grant from the Commonwealth of MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Division of Conservation for Fiscal Year 2017 to 2019. This three year grant provided outreach, education, and technical assistance to address water and soil health issues within the Lake Warner/Mill River Watershed area that impact water quality. HHCD promoted water and soil health by identifying primary properties with the greatest likelihood to impact the waterways based on GIS mapping.
HHCD then focussed on these properties while providing landowner and community outreach, education, and training through field workshops and tours, and encouraged the implementation of projects with cooperators.
2012 Hampden Hampshire Conservation District Local Working Group Initiative
The Local Working Group initiative was created with the goal of creating stronger grassroots support for planning, designing, and implementing sound conservation practices that enhance a full range of natural resources. The District aimed to identify and prioritize the needs expressed by all interested local parties to direct the NRCS’ technical expertise and funds towards the public’s highest priority conservation issues, activities, and programs.
During this nine‐month project, the Local Working Group sought to understand the Districts’ highest perceived conservation needs as articulated by local residents and people that work within the District.
Of those surveyed, water quality and loss of agricultural lands were the top two most important issues mentioned. Food security, energy conservation, and conserving fish and wildlife habitat were close behind.
The task of the District was to balance sampling respondents more likely to have access to scientific information with more informal perceptions from the non‐expert public. Some issues that garnered high survey activity, such as food security and energy conservation, might result in amended ranking questions to better address these issues.
The goal going forward was aptly stated by a respondent in the comments section of the survey: “achieving a balance between conservation and people’s needs is challenging, however very important for the environment now and in the future. Therefore, the more interaction the NRCS has with the public, the easier it may be to achieve the goals of conservation and preservation of wildlife and environment.”