MINNEOTA - The local office of the National Resources Conservation Service is looking for feedback from Lyon County residents, NRCS staff members said Tuesday. While a listening session held Tuesday afternoon didn't draw a large crowd, conservationists said area residents are still welcome to give their opinions.
The listening session, held at the Southwest Sportsmen's Club in Minneota, was meant to gather feedback about environmental and conservation programs that are part of the farm bill, as well as suggestions for conservation projects and priorities within the Lyon County Soil and Water Conservation District. Shannon Ernst of the Marshall NRCS office said a survey covering the same topics had also been sent out to county residents including township board members and producer groups.
"We're trying to do more outreach, to get people's opinions," Ernst said.
Gary Crowley of the Lyon County SWCD Board said he thought conservation efforts should continue to focus on factors like erosion control, water resources and managing agricultural runoff.
"That should be one of the higher priorities up there," Crowley said. Implementing grazing systems was another area that could have a big effect on soil and water issues, he said.
Examples of NRCS programs discussed at the listening session included the Wetlands Reserve Program, which gives assistance to landowners to restore wetlands in exchange for retiring eligible farmland, and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Mike Timmerman of the Marshall NRCS office said EQIP provides cost-sharing and other assistance to farmers for a wide variety of environmental and conservation practices. For example, EQIP funds can help farmers with purchasing fencing or watering systems for grazing animals. At the other end of the spectrum, the program offers a cost-sharing program for a "kit" to build a seasonal greenhouse.
"It's available to more than just traditional farmers," Timmerman said.
Ernst and Timmerman also asked if there were specific parts of Lyon County that should be a priority for conservation projects.
"I think the Redwood River by Lynd," Crowley said, especially for riverbank stabilization. Erosion and undercut banks are a big problem for people in that area, he said.
Ernst said Lyon County residents were still welcome to give their feedback by contacting the Marshall NRCS office. Another opportunity to share feedback will come through a local work group meeting, which will be at 1 p.m. on Aug. 13, at the Marshall NRCS office.