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Nearly $1 million in grants to be used to lessen runoff to Bay

May 09, 2006

ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland Department of Agriculture has received $933,000 from the Chesapeake Bay Targeted Watersheds Grants Program for two projects on farms in the Choptank and Monocacy River watersheds.

Together, the projects are to reduce annual nitrogen pollution to the Bay's tributaries by more than 280,000 pounds.

"Maryland's farmers are committed to protecting the Chesapeake Bay and are national leaders in the implementation of on-farm resource conservation practices," said Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich. Agriculture Secretary Lewis R. Riley said,

"Over the years, farmers have spent millions of their own money, in addition to countless hours of labor, to match strong state and federal conservation funding," Riley said.

He said the new grants will help put "innovative best management practices on farms in two of the Bay's critical watersheds."

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MDA said it will use most of the money to work with farmers in the Choptank River watershed to plant traditional and commodity cover crops and to construct drainage control structures to reduce both nutrient and sediment loads.

The rest of the money is to be used on farms in the Monocacy watershed, MDA said.

It said improving practices in that area is important "because of the high concentration of dairy and livestock farms in the area and the soil types and steep slopes which create the potential for leaching and run off of nutrients."

MDA said it will work in the area as partners on the project with the University of Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Adams County Conservation District in Pennsylvania.

The agencies will work with dairy farms in the Monocacy watershed to adopt precision feeding by working with MDA's manure transport program to broker an exchange between farms with excess manure and farms that need it to fertilize crops; and by promoting early cover crop seeding.

In all, $138,000 will be used for the commodity cover crop program and for the Frederick County Soil Conservation District to provide technical assistance.

The grant program is a partnership among the Chesapeake Bay Program, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, the Chesapeake Bay Trust and EPA which provides financial and technical support to projects that reduce excess nutrient pollution within specific bay tributaries.

Primary funding is provided by EPA and its Chesapeake Bay Program. The Chesapeake Bay Trust provides additional funding for Maryland recipients. They must provide at least 25 percent in matching funds and in-kind services.

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