OREGON COUNTY -- The Oregon County Soil and Water Conservation District (OCSWCD) is applying for the AgNPS SALT program through the Department of Natural Resources.
According to Sarah Wiggs with the OCSWCD office in Alton, the program was established to help improve, protect and maintain the water quality within Missouri through prevention and reduction of agriculture source pollution using a watershed based approach.
Wiggs said this is the ninth year for the program and it has to be approved by the Missouri SWCD in Jefferson City.
"Each soil and water district that is approved for the program must have a comprehensive watershed plan by choosing a watershed within their county that is in great need of assistance in reducing soil erosion while enhancing water quality," Wiggs said.
The district must also form a steering committee made up of land owners within the selected watershed who will represent their neighbors within the watershed. The Oregon County committee is made up of Jerry Strain, chairman, Steve Hutchinson, Art Oakes, Charles Pease, Tom Powell, Gary Simpson, Kevin Steed and Ralph Underwood Jr.
"With the assistance from the steering committee each soil and water district can then identify pollution concerns that exist in that watershed and move forward in the application process," Wiggs said.
She said the local SWCD has gone through the preliminary application and has been approved to proceed to the final application process in applying for the program.
"The district board of supervisors and staff has selected the Warm Fork of the Spring River watershed to use as the focus area for the program," she said.
There is over 42,000 acres involved in the watershed area in Oregon County with over 300 land owners involved.
"The watershed involved in the program will start at the state line and go east of Thayer to the Rose Hill Tower. From there it will involve the Warm Fork west, out to the Thayer Airport, and then continue north to Koshkonong and Highway 22," she said.
There is a map outlining the area where individuals must own land to qualify for cost-share assistance and incentive benefits if the application is approved by the state. She said anyone that has not seen the map may come by the Alton office and pick one up.
Wiggs said if the state approves the final application, farms along the watershed will be able to apply for cost-share programs that would assist with brush management (spraying weeds), rotational grazing, nutrient management, woodland fences and soil erosion along stream banks, timber harvests and many other programs.