Last week, Maryland's Board of Public Works approved $73,110 in cost-shard grants to help farmers implement conservation practices to protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Cost-share grants went to 12 projects in seven counties to prevent soil erosion, manage nutrients and safeguard water quality in streams, rivers and the bay.
The on-farm project grants were:
* $6,942 for a livestock watering facility in Baltimore County
* $3,782 for a heavy-use protection area in Carroll County
* $3,833 for a roof runoff structure in Frederick County
* $6,613 for stream crossing protection in Harford County
* $7,106 for grade stabilization in a grass waterway in Howard County
* $32,249 for grade stabilization on a grass waterway and roof runoff control in Kent County
* $12,582 for four grant involving grassed waterways and fencing in St. Mary's County
Together, these projects are calculated to prevent more than 670 pounds of nitrogen, 476 pounds of phosphorus, and 340 tons of soil from entering the Bay and its tributaries, according to Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. The projects are funded by state general obligation bonds, not through Maryland Department of Agriculture's general fund budget.
"Our farmers are true partners in protecting our natural resources and Maryland continues to support their efforts by providing conservation grants to install proven conservation measures and innovative, state-of-the-art practices," says Brown. "We're committed to upholding our end of the partnership with continued financial and technical assistance to help farmers implement their farm conservation plans."
The Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) Program provides grants to cover up to 87.5% of the cost to install best management practices on farms. Since the program started in 1984, farmers have spent more than $15 million of their own money to match more than $105 million in state and federal funds to install over 21,000 water quality projects or about 2.5 BMPs per day, every day, for 26 years.
Ag BMPs are a key feature of Maryland's recent plan submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce nutrients. Grassed waterways, streamside buffers of grasses and trees, and animal waste management systems are among more than 30 BMPs currently eligible for MACS grants.