USDA seeks community’s help to determine natural resource priorities

STRASBURG – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will be hosting a public meeting next week to review and amend local natural resource priorities for the 2017 fiscal year.

The Local Working Group will meet at 1 p.m. June 9 in the Strasburg Community Center at 726 E. Queen St. There, residents including farmers, forest landowners, and agricultural and conservation organizations, can participate in offering questions, compliments and critiques of current conservation practices.

Mike Liskey, district conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said this working group is one of 45 that will be sending in its ideas. However, he said these meetings have proven their ability to prompt change.

“Over the years, some of our suggestions have been implemented,” Liskey said. “Something does happen. Ideas we come up with do wind up affecting the program in some fashion.”

A major topic of discussion will be the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. That program offers financial and technical assistance to farmers in implementing and maintaining waste storage structures, preserving pasturelands via rotational grazing. It also aids in maintaining soil health via practices such as using cover crops and reducing tillage.

Liskey said there is also likely to be discussion over an agriculture land easement program, which works to preserve open spaces for farmland and wetlands in perpetuity.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com