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Soil & Water Conservation District manager reports 'record year' with 13 grant-funded projects

By Mike Pettinella

The Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District enjoyed a record year in 2021 as it initiated and finished 13 grant-funded agricultural and other projects designed to ensure the continued flow of clean, safe water, the department’s manager said on Wednesday.

“It was extremely busy,” said Brad Mudrzynski, during his yearly report at the Genesee County Legislature’s Public Service Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse.

He said projects included cover crop implementation, small erosion control systems and manure management-related topics.

“Another one is a manure storage cover that goes on top of the manure lagoon to capture any burn-off of methane, rather than having methane emissions, and there were a couple of different stream riparian buffers – native plantings along the side of the stream to prevent sediment nutrients from going into the stream,” Mudrzynski said.

Furthermore, he said that seven more similar endeavors will be moving forward in 2021 thanks to another $750,000 in grant funding secured by the district.

Awards from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets will be going to six applications to the Climate Resilient Farming program and one to the Agricultural Non-point Source Abatement and Control program.

“We will continue to be busy for the foreseeable few years with just those projects alone,” he said, noting that payments took longer to arrive due to COVID-19. “We didn’t get some of the (funding) hits we were bracing ourselves for.”

On the municipal side, Mudrzynski said the district’s primary function over the past year was to hydroseed for town and village highway departments to facilitate vegetative growth.

“If they clean their road ditch – opening it up – one of the things that we don’t like to see … is a bare ditch at the bottom, the brown soil,” he said. “When water goes through there, it can really cause erosion in the road ditch, which is not good from an infrastructure standpoint. And we don’t like seeing that because the water is carrying the dirt down to a receiving body of water somewhere.”

GCSWCD employees seeded and stabilized 1.2 acres of soil disturbed during the construction of the new Genesee County Sheriff’s Office communication tower in East Bethany, he said.

Mudrzynski said the district has another “pretty good sized” forested riparian buffer project, planting more than 1,000 trees along a stream bank at a local nonprofit conservation club.

He said the agency had to cancel the Genesee County Envirothon, a two-part scholastic competition, for the second straight year but hopes to offer it again starting in 2022.

“Remaining duties, including agricultural environmental management, tree and shrub program, and the fish stocking program, are continuing this year and we expect them to be strong in the coming years,” he said.

The district employs five full-time staffers.

Per its website, the mission of the GCWWCD is to work directly with county landowners to provide for the conservation of soil and water resources, improvement of water quality, and prevention of floodwater and sediment damages, thereby protecting the natural resource base and promoting health, safety, and general welfare of the county residents. For more information, click here.

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