Soil and Water District continues to look after Genesee County's environment
The job of Soil and Water Conservative, District Manager Brad Mudrzynski, told the Public Service Committee on Monday during a department review, is pretty straightforward at its most basic: Keep soil healthy; keep it on dry land; keep it out of water, so water is kept clean.
Mudrzynski became the director in January, the second since George Squires retired a couple of years ago after 31 years of service to the county, but Mudrzynski, who is from Elba, said the district has continued to operate without missing a beat.
Genesee County's soil and water district was established in 1944. Every county in the state has a soil and water district. The county budgets about $150,000 annually to fund the district. That pays for personnel, currently four full-time staffers and one part-time employee, and it's up to the district to apply for grants and aid to fund its programs.
"We have a good core," Mudrzynski said. "I hope I get to keep my core because they are really good people. They all know what they're doing."
The current staff is Molly Cassatt, a technician (the former director who volunteered to change rolls), Bob Berkemeier, senior technician, Tim Welch, technician, and Laura Bestehorn, clerk-treasuer.
In Genesee County, most programs are focused on agriculture but the agency also works with municipalities. For example, soil and water is using a $6,000 state grant to fund a hydroseeding program with the towns.
Hydroseeding, rather than just spreading grass seed on the ground, helps prevent runoff and soil erosion.
Other programs and services include tree and shrub planting, fish stocking, an Envirothon, recycling events, permit assistance, guidance for invasive species control, and erosion control design.
In 2018, the district secured nine grants worth $1.2 million.
Mudrzynski said soil and water districts are unique in the state because they operate as quasi-state agencies but with local control, which makes them more nimble and responsive to local needs.