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March 28, 2016

Legislators Re-appoint Three to Soil and Water District Board

OSWEGO - The Oswego County Legislature re-appointed three members to the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) board of directors during its March 10 meeting. County legislators Linda Lockwood and Terry Wilbur were re-appointed to new terms as legislative representatives on the SWCD board and Barry Leemann of Amboy was re-appointed to represent the Oswego County Farm Bureau.

The Soil and Water Conservation District was formed by an act of the Oswego County Legislature in October 1945. The agency provides technical assistance and educational programs on soil, water and natural resources conservation to landowners, residents and municipalities in Oswego County. Lockwood represents District 11, Volney on the County Legislature. She serves as vice chairwoman of the County Legislature and vice chairwoman of the SWCD board. Wilbur represents District 21, Hannibal on the County Legislature and serves on the NYS Association of Counties standing committee on agriculture. Jeffrey Richards of Granby is Soil and Water Conservation District board chairman and represents the Oswego County Grange. Sandy Tuori-Bell of Constantia is a member at large on the district board.

The SWCD office is located at 3105 state Route 3, Volney. Staff include John DeHollander, district manager; Cindy Williams, secretary/treasurer; Erica Schreiner, district educator; and Joe Chairvolotti, district forester. "Our objective is to carry out a program of soil, water, and related natural resource conservation by providing technical and educational assistance and programs to residents, landowners, and units of government," said DeHollander.

The agency is involved in a variety of activities that reach all corners of Oswego County. Forester Joe Chairvolotti manages 2,200 acres of county reforestation property. In 2015 the district conducted two timber harvests on 75 acres, raising $18,700 in revenue to further best forestry management. District educator Erica Schreiner organizes the annual Conservation Field Day for elementary school students at Selkirk Shores State Park, conducts the annual Envirothon for Oswego County high school students, and organizes the Oswego County Progressive Agriculture Safety Day for fifth grade students at the Oswego County Fairgrounds. Some of the environmental education programs have been held for more than 20 years.

Agriculture continues to be a cornerstone in the district's programming areas and New York State's Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) program is utilized to serve Oswego County farmers. AEM is a voluntary incentive-based program that helps farmers operate environmentally-sound and economically viable businesses. Staff work with farms of all types and sizes to adopt conservation techniques and practices that prevent soil erosion, improve soil health, and protect water quality.

"Helping farmers protect the environment and remain profitable is more important than ever to the survival of local farms," said DeHollander. "Technical assistance is provided to all regarding the abatement of nonpoint sources of pollution, erosion control, drainage and/or flood mitigation, stormwater management and soil information."

As an authorized agency of the Oswego County Legislature, the district reports every month to the Legislature's Economic Development and Planning Committee. Committee members include Legislator Roy Reehil, District 5, Constantia, committee chairman; Morris Sorbello, District 23, Granby, committee vice chairman; and Shane Broadwell, District 17, Oswego; Shawn Doyle, District 3, Pulaski; Daniel Farfaglia, District 24, Fulton; Daniel LeClair, District 8, Pennellville; and Tim Stahl, District 20, Oswego Town.

"One of the agency's most important responsibilities is coordinating local efforts to control the spread of invasive plant species," said Legislator Reehil. "For the past several years the agency has monitored the spread of water chestnut plants in the Oswego, Salmon and Oneida rivers and other bodies of water. The staff works closely with volunteer groups to remove plants and coordinates grant applications to help pay for invasive species control projects."

"The Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District receives most of its funding through services we provide to landowners and municipalities by means of outside sources of grants," said DeHollander. "We also receive an appropriation from the Oswego County Legislature and funding from New York State soil and water programs. In 2015 we provided forestry technical assistance to approximately 50 landowners, municipalities and trail clubs, including forest management, insect and disease identification and control, forest management plan development, wildlife habitat improvement, and forestry and trail best management practices."

The agency conducts an annual tree and shrub sale every spring. Orders are currently being accepted until April 15. This sale affords operating capital which supports the district's educational programming. Order forms are available at www.oswegosoilandwater.com/tree%20form%2016.pdf.

The district office is open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information stop by the office at 3105 state Route 3, Volney, call 592-9663, or visit www.oswegosoilandwater.com.

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