SHENANDOAH VALLEY, Va. (WDVM) — The Virginia General Assembly awarded the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District $3.5 million, a record amount of funding.
“That’s more than double what we had last year, which we thought was a peak year. So we have quite an opportunity but quite a challenge,” said Joan Comanor, Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District Vice Chair.
Now the district must reach out to farmers and landowners about installing conservation projects on their farms to improve water quality in streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.
“At the same time the work that we’re doing to help clean up the bay is also helping clean up problems in our local areas as well,” said Comanor.
The three soil and water conservation districts in the valley are responsible for 20 percent of Virginia’s contribution to the Chesapeake Bay cleanup program.
“We work with farmers on making sure that you don’t put any more fertilizer than is absolutely needed,” said Comanor, “During the winter months when there’s not a crop growing there, we provide funds for them to buy seeds to put what’s called a cover crop.”
If 90 percent of these funds are not allocated by spring 2020, they would lose the money they haven’t used.
“We’ve often run out of money before we’ve run out of requests so we’re a little intimidated but also excited to see what we can do with this much money,” said Comanor.
The Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation district hopes to have the funds allocated by March or April.