CELINA — During the meeting of a local lake group this weekend, members of the organization heard from the top official with a state agency.
Terry Cosby, the head of the Ohio National Resource Conservation Service, spoke at the Lake Improvement Association meeting on Saturday, noting the projects the NRCS has contributed to in the area over the past few years.
“We started this project back in 2008,” Cosby said. “I had a few individuals come to me and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a problem, how can you help?’ And so with that, we started looking at how we could have an effect on the land.”
He noted the first EQIP — Environmental Quality Incentive Program — program started in 2008, where landowners could receive between 75 and 90 percent cost share.
“We started in 2008 — we allocated $1 million in February and during that time, we also allocated money for a monitoring station,” Cosby said, noting Heidelberg College is working with them on the station. “We’ve put about $300,000 into that project.”
In 2009, Cosby noted NRCS allocated another $1 million in June and implemented the second year of the EQIP program to include hay buffers and nutrient management.
“In 2010, we had the second algae bloom, and it was our third year, and one of the things we started to promote was manure transfer,” he said, noting they put approximately $2 million into the program and another $1.5 million into a partnership in the Upper Wabash and into Indiana.
“In 2011, the watershed was designated as in distress, and that designation brings along some special things, but for us it was our fourth year with this project, and we continued the manure transfer and added CNMPs and cover crops.”
That year, he added they also started water quality monitoring, which will be picked up by the state this year.
“Normally the state doesn’t pay for monitoring, but it was very important to get the data,” Cosby said.
That year also was the first year for the CIG, or Conservation Innovation Grant.
“We award grants to companies or individuals who go out and develop new technology,” he said, noting the company putting in the anaerobic digester for treating manure received the CIG.
Cosby noted NRCS has a partnership with the EPA, who requested NRCS bring in a staff to specifically concentrate on Grand Lake St. Marys.
“This team can concentrate just on this watershed,” he said, noting at one time there were 19 people working out of that office.
“I’m committed to doing whatever needs to help in the watershed here. I think we’ve seen some positive results with the team here.”
Cosby then introduced Steve McDevitt, who heads the NRCS office in Celina that focuses on the Grand Lake St. Marys project. McDevitt described the process his office goes through when visiting producers to LIA members.
LIA President Tim Lovett thanked Cosby, and McDevitt, for coming to the group’s meeting.
“I think there are a lot of activities going on to correct some of the issues in the lake,” Lovett said. “At the end of the day, I think it shows we’re making progress and moving forward.”
LIA members also:
• Heard their officers’ reports.
• Noted their upcoming LIA Beach Party fundraiser, which will be held Feb. 18.
• Lovett presented a $3,000 check on behalf of the LIA to representatives from Franklin Township.
• Heard from Larry Baker, who updated members on the region’s new Flotilla.
• Heard an update from the LRC from Milt Miller.
• Heard from Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Brian Miller, who recognized the members of his dredge team, as well as Kara Birt who works in the park office. Miller also went over the park’s goals for 2012.
The next LIA meeting will be at 10 a.m. March 3 at the Celina Moose.