Public Participation / Agricultural Stewardship Program
Onondaga County, NY

Grantee: Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $10,000
Non-federal Funds: $5,842
Project Duration: 04/1995 - 03/1996
Status: complete

Problem Statement
The Onondaga County Water Quality Strategy Priority Water Problem List identified the Chittenango Creek as precluded and Butternut and Limestone Creeks as impaired. This is primarily due to the negative impacts of sediments and nutrients on water quality.

The goal of this project was to provide water quality management assistance to farmers, watershed schools and the general public. The needs of these three diverse audiences was determined through the use of surveys and focus groups. Representative individuals from the Chittenango, Butternut and Limestone Creek watersheds were selected to develop the survey, analyze the results and develop an Information/Education Strategy for soil erosion and sediment control. The main emphasis of the project was to enable watershed landowners to become partners in not only evaluating the problems but also in helping design the solutions.

The Great Lakes Basin spent $10,000 over a 12 month period to: 1) establish focus groups; 2) survey three target audiences; 3) summarize and prioritize survey results for each audience; and, 4) design and implement a streambank stabilization project.

Water quality concerns and educational needs of three diverse audiences (farmers, teachers and planning boards) within the watershed were identified. Surveys were effectively used to inventory their knowledge and identify their concerns. Additionally, through the use of focus groups, the survey results were reviewed, an information/education strategy developed and priorities for implementation of best management practices established. Results from the surveys for each audience are summarized below:

A priority need identified in the survey of 15 middle and senior high school teachers in the watershed was to purchase of good water quality teaching model that could be shared through a central office. As a result, an Enviroscape portable watershed model was purchased through this grant.

Planning Boards
Seventy letters and surveys were distributed to planning boards in the watershed. The priority need identified from the twenty who responded was to make available general watershed and water quality education materials with an emphasis on urban erosion and sediment control measures related to new developments.

Forty full time watershed farms covering 126,000 acres were surveyed to determine general farm data, existing conservation practices on the farm, and current nonpoint source pollution (NPS) conditions and concerns. This information was evaluated and prioritized with some of the farms exhibiting severe NPS pollution problems. Farmers requested demonstration projects that would illustrate efficient and cost effective best management practices. The survey revealed that one of the main obstacles for farmers is the lack of funding available to implement NPS pollution abatement projects.

Results from the farm survey and prioritization of farms exhibiting the most sever NPS pollution problems provided the background information necessary for Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to seek best management practice implementation dollars from other grant sources.

The use of “willow wattle” was demonstrated on approximately 100 ft of eroding roadbank and streambank to stabilize the soil and divert the water away from the bank. As a result of the demonstration project, approximately 10.25 tons/year of soil have been prevented from eroding. This low cost method is effective but not widely used in Onondaga County. The benefits of using willow wattle were promoted through many education efforts such as conservation tours, the Family Forest Fair and through the SWCD's newsletter.

Contact: Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District, (315) 469-5034


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