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« Help Tangier Island Residents | Main | More on Global Warming and the Chesapeake »

September 26, 2007

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late Ryan

Dear People,

I'm on the board of an organization called Farm Catskills. We're a grass-roots group trying to promote and protect farms in the Catskills, particularly in Delaware County NY. Most of the farms are in the Delaware River Watershed but many are in the Susquehanna Watershed which feeds Chesapeake Bay.

The lands in the Delaware River Watershed feed into NY City’s reservoirs and water supply. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) of NYC is investing a good deal of money to protect its water supply and avoid putting in a filtration plant which was initially required by the EPA. The DEP through its Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) provides funds to farms in the area to use ecologically wise methods that protect the purity of its water.

I know your organization is encouraging farms close to the Chesapeake Bay to practice ecological wise agricultural methods to save the bay but I wonder if they might also want to encourage farms further upstream at the source of the Susquehanna to do likewise. Probably run-off from these distant farms also affect what happens in Chesapeake Bay.

Farm Catskills is a relatively new organization which does not have vast monetary resources but it would be happy to partner with your organization if it would be interested in providing support to farms in the Susquehanna Watershed to practice ecologically sound farming methods to help save Chesapeake Bay.

Sincerely,
Kate Ryan, Secretary
September 27, 2007

Kim Ethridge

Kate,

You are certainly correct that excess nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution from farms in the Upper Susquehanna watersheds in New York affects the Chesapeake Bay. We wish that more people understood that. To help address the problem, our federal affairs people in Washington are working hard to increase the Natural Resource Conservation Service's budget for technical assistance and cost-share funds for farmers throughout the Bay watershed states--including New York--in the Farm Bill that is currently moving through Congress. By our calculations, the House version of the bill, which passed in July, has more than $100 million a year in new funds for Bay watershed farmers to do conservation activities. The Senate version of the bill, which should begin moving through the legislative process in the next two weeks, doesn't yet have numbers, but we're hard at work to make sure that it too will contain substantial technical assistance and cost-share funds to help farmers in NY and the other Bay states to limit their runoff.

We really applaud the work you're doing! Perhaps the people in our Pennsylvania office (we don't have one in New York) could explore with you some practical ways for us to work more closely together. Their number is 717-234-5550.

If your members want to help with the Farm Bill effort, they can visit http://www.cbf.org/farmbill for more information.

Michael Sola

Kate,

What a surprise to see your posting - I not only work at CBF and provide material for our Tech Blog but originally grew up in Walton and then in Delhi during my youth.

Last year I had the privilege of participating with one of our extended education ventures called Expedition Susquehanna - which was well documented on our web site at http://www.cbf.org/site/PageServer?pagename=exp_sub_expeditions_susquehanna it focused on the Ag impact to the watershed and all from the students perspective who actually live in Ag communities along the watershed.

I'm not sure what resources that may provide for you but I know our association with the PA FFA could potentially lend you some support in the Delaware County region and may be worth a call.

My In-Laws who still live in the County and my Mom who is in Unadilla claim to be extension office of CBF - not sure that is really true but I will reach out to them and see if they can help in some way. My recent visit to the area was this summer for a close friend who was married up in Andes and I was amazed at all the growth and non working farmlands I had seen.

You have your work cut out for you - I salute your efforts and promise to stay in touch.

All the best,
Michael

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