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Soil and Water Conservation District

Annual dinner in Alexander celebrates agriculture, recognizes conservation farm of the year

By Howard B. Owens
Mar 27, 2023, 8:46pm

The annual Celebrate Agriculture Dinner -- this year, as in the past, held at the Alexander Fire Hall -- is as much a chance for farmers and community leaders to mingle and enjoy a good meal as it is the time to honor the Soil and Water Conservation District's conservation farm of the year.

This year, the award went to Naas Farms, a 700-acre grain and vegetable farm owned and operated by Bruce and Jessica Naas in Oakfield.

"We are really honored here in Genesee County to have such a diverse, vital, robust agricultural economy in our county, and to be able to honor one of our own this evening is always just a wonderful honor for the Legislature," said Shelley Stein, co-owner of Stein Farms in Le Roy and chair of the Genesee County Legislature while presenting Bruce and Jessica Naas with a proclamation passed by the Legislature recognizing the farm's conservation efforts.

From a previous press release announcing the award:

The farm has adopted many best management practices over the years to improve its land and the environment. The farm grows crops with limited tillage or no-till equipment. Cover crops are planted after the harvest of the commodity crop to improve soil health and reduce soil erosion. The farm sells cover crop seed and occasionally lends equipment to their neighbors to promote soil health beyond their acreage. The farm recently constructed an agri-chemical storage and mixing facility to reduce the environmental risk of storing and mixing fertilizers and herbicides. The farm has also created a pollinator habitat to promote the populations of our native bees and insects.

Top photo: County Legislator and farmer Christian Yunker, Soil and Water Director Jared Elliott, Jessica Naas, Bruce, Naas, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, County Legislator Chair and farmer Shelley Stein, and State Sen. George Borello.

Photos by Howard Owens

Rep. Claudia Tenney (on right in photo above), whose NY-24 District has included Genesee County since January, took the opportunity of the ag dinner to make her first public appearance locally.

She encouraged everybody to attend a roundtable discussion at 10 a.m. on April 4 in the Old Courthouse in Batavia do discuss the upcoming renewal of the Farm Bill.

"This is the number one agricultural district in New York and the entire Northeast," Tenney said. "It's also the number one dairy district, so that's also important as well. I just wanted to encourage you all to attend on April 4. We're going to be hosting our first forum on the new farm bill that's coming up for a vote this year. We'd love to have your participation. We're going to be doing them throughout the district. So as many people as we can get there that would be great."

It's important for the district's voices to be heard on the new Farm Bill because, she indicated, people tend to forget how important agriculture is to New York.

"We have a lot of really important initiatives coming up this year," Tenney said. "I'm hoping that we can get some things that we need in the Farm Bill. They tend to forget us tend to focus more on the ethanol producers out in Iowa and some of the cotton producers."

Tenney encouraged people to visit her website and sign up for her newsletter,

"We have a newsletter that comes out every Friday, and I explain every vote that I take in the house in detail," Tenney said. "I don't just put how I voted. I tell you why. It's my attempt to try to make us understand what's going on in Washington to decode it to ensure that we're self-governing."

State Sen. George Borrello also presented a proclamation to Bruce and Jessica Naas. 

"As the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and also a small business person myself, there are no greater, more resilient people than farmers, and to recognize someone who has risen to the top, there isn't a greater achievement," Borrello said. 

Borrello promised to keep fighting for farmers.

"You know, the biggest threat to agriculture in New York State? It's not climate change," Borrello said. "It's not even the price of commodities or even the labor. The biggest threat to New York State agriculture is bad policy out of Albany. That's the biggest threat to agriculture. And we are going to continue to push back at the people in New York City who don't know where their food comes from, who are trying to tell us how we should feed them. And that's gonna become a bigger problem for them as we move forward. We're making progress. And I promise you, your state will continue to be one of the best states, if not the best state, to farm in as we continue to make progress."

Assemblyman Steve Hawley also congratulated the owners of Naas Farms as well as talk about his efforts to hold back what he called "the electrification of New York."

"We're fighting very, very hard against the electrification plan out of touch folks from New York City," Hawley said.

He praised both Tenney and Borrello for their efforts to represent the new parts -- including Genesee County -- of their redrawn districts and said he admires them both.

Under the leadership of Chef Tracy Burgio, left, culinary students with BOCES prepared the buffet dinner using many locally sourced ingredients. 

Dave's Ice Cream in Batavia donated 400 dishes of ice cream.

Naas Farms named 2022 Conservation Farm of the Year

By Press Release
Mar 3, 2023, 7:30am

Press release:

Since 1959, the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District has honored a deserving agricultural producer with the Conservation Farm of the Year Award. This award is given to a producer with a long-term commitment to sustainable conservation, leads by example, and implements best management practices for farm conservation. This year’s recipient is Naas Farms, LLC., of Oakfield, NY.

Naas Farms, LLC. is a 700-acre grain and vegetable farm that is owned and operated by Bruce and Jessica Naas. Taking care of their land has always been a high priority. The farm has adopted many best management practices over the years to improve its land and the environment. The farm grows crops with limited tillage or no-till equipment. Cover crops are planted after the harvest of the commodity crop to improve soil health and reduce soil erosion. The farm sells cover crop seed and occasionally lends equipment to their neighbors to promote soil health beyond their acreage. The farm recently constructed an agrochemical storage and mixing facility to reduce the environmental risk in storing and mixing fertilizers and herbicides. The farm has also created a pollinator habitat to promote populations of our native bees and insects.

Bruce and Jessica Naas have three children, Brett, Aaron, and Chelsey. They are both active outside of their farming operation. Both have had careers off of the farm, with Jessica driving school bus and Bruce working for the NYS Department of Transportation for over 30 years each. Bruce has sat on several boards and committees, including leadership roles in the Genesee County Farm Bureau, Farm Service Agency County Committee in Genesee County, and the NY Corn and Soybean Growers Association.

Naas Farms, LLC. has been an active participant with the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service since 1983. To recognize the work that has been done, the farm will be presented the 2022 Conservation Farm of the Year Award at the Celebrate Agriculture Dinner on March 25, 2023, at the Alexander Fire Hall.

Soil and Water holding tree planting and care workshop

By Press Release
Sep 1, 2022, 1:19pm

Press release:

Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District invites you to our Tree Planting and Maintenance Event on September 17th from 10a-1p. The event will be hosted at Godfrey’s Pond (7925 Godfrey’s Pond Road, Bergen NY 14416) and directions to our site will be posted when you arrive. At this workshop, NYS DEC Forester Gary Koplun and fellow foresters will demonstrate various tree-planting techniques. They will also cover the best ways to prevent deer damage, how to maintain healthy seedlings, and other important tree maintenance techniques. Following the demonstration, a small hike will be taken around the property to explore a reforestation project, identify trees, and discuss trees that are suitable for various site conditions. All are welcome to attend, and the event is free of charge.

Please register ahead though by either visiting our website:

Or using the link below:  

Soil and Water hosting tire recycling event

By Press Release
May 19, 2022, 12:16pm

Press release:

We are hosting a free tire recycling event for Genesee County residents on June 11th! We can recycle your car and truck tires at no cost to you. Tires must be clean and without rims. Registration is required as there is limited space on the trucks. Please call our office at {585) 343-2362 x5 to get on the sign-up list. When you call to register, we will need to know approximately how many tires you will be bringing, and we will provide you with additional information about the event. This program is funded by a NYS Soil and Water Conservation Committee grant.

Photos: Soil and Water provides tree and shrubs to area residents

By Howard B. Owens
Apr 23, 2022, 4:34pm

Heidi Young, with the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District, loads a pair of trees into the truck of Joe Reif, of Clarence, as part of the department's tree and shrub program for 2022.

Area residents were able to pre-order a variety of trees and shrubs for spring planting from Soil and Water and pick them up today at the Agri-Culture Center on East Main Street Road, Batavia.

This year there were 41 tree and shrub options for sale and 15 different multi-stem packages. Items ranged from evergreens, hardwoods, fruit trees, and flowering shrubs, to perennial flowers and ferns. Items that were not offered in a while have reappeared in the catalog this year, including white cedar transplants, yellow birch, pin cherry, and white flowering dogwood.

Photos by Howard Owens

Grassland Dairy named Conservation Farm of the Year by Soil and Water

By Howard B. Owens
Mar 29, 2022, 12:14am

Press release:

Since 1959, the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District has honored a deserving agricultural producer with the Conservation Farm of the Year Award. This award is given to a producer that has displayed a long-term commitment to sustainable conservation, leads by example, and implements farm conservation best management practices. This year’s recipient is Grassland Dairy, Inc, an organic dairy farm in the town of Pavilion.

Grassland Dairy, Inc., is a 250-cow organic dairy farm that is owned and operated by Brent Tillotson and his family. The farm raises their Jersey cows on a rotational grazing system with a focus on animal welfare. The farm also operates under a comprehensive nutrient management plan that is updated annually to provide nutrient and manure application recommendations based on soil testing, crop requirements, and environmental conditions. Several best management practices have been installed since the farm’s inception in 2008, including a waste separation facility, waste storage facility, erosion control systems, and subsurface drainage. Currently, the farm is working to incorporate cover crops into their corn production by planting a mix of cover crop species into their standing corn crop during cultivation. This approach will help to improve soil health and reduce erosion on the cropland.

Grassland Dairy, Inc., has voluntarily implemented the aforementioned best management practices to protect the environment and create a more sustainable farm operation. They have also been an active participant with the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. To recognize the work that has been done, the farm will be presented the 2021 Conservation Farm of the Year award at the Celebrate Agriculture Dinner on April 2, 2022, at the Alexander Fire Hall.

Photo: File photo of Brent Tillotson in 2013. Photo by Howard Owens.



GC Soil and Water and DEC offer free Zoom webinar Aug. 4 on tree pests the gypsy moth and emerald ash borer

By Press Release
Jul 22, 2021, 1:03pm

Submitted photo and press release:

The recent infestations of the gypsy moth (right photo) (also known as Lymantria dispar dispar -- LDD) and emerald ash borer -- EAB (also known as Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire), along with other pests and diseases, have been the cause of a lot of concern in Western New York recently.

The adult gypsy moths are emerging. While the initial damage from their caterpillars is done for this year, now is a great time to learn about how to reduce or mitigate damage that may occur from next year’s caterpillars.

Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District, along with our partner the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, will be hosting a FREE online webinar on Wednesday, Aug. 4th, at 7 p.m. on Zoom.

NYSDEC forester Gary Koplun will present about ways to manage the gypsy moth, as well as speak about the emerald ash borer and other issues that stress trees.

There will be an opportunity for questions as well as resources provided.

You can register today by visiting the Conservation District's website.

Udderly Better Acres in Le Roy honored by Soil and Water district

By Howard B. Owens
May 6, 2021, 3:04pm

Udderly Better Acres, a dairy farm on Vallance Road in Le Roy, has been selected by the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District as the 2021 Conservation Farm of the Year.

Brad Mudrzynski presented the Conservation Farm of the Year sign to owners Don Krenzer and Roz Krenzer this morning.

Press release:

Since 1959, Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District (District) has honored a farm that has displayed a long-term commitment to sustainable conservation, leads by example, and implements farm conservation best management practices on their own or with the District. Udderly Better Acres has met and surpassed these criteria and continues to demonstrate outstanding stewardship of the land.

Don Krenzer and his family operate the dairy farm on 1,200 acres in the Town of Le Roy within one-half mile from Oatka Creek. The farm began using no-till and strip-till methods many years before they became common in our region. These methods, coupled with his use of drag-lining manure and other practices, put him as an early adopter of soil health practices before that term’s recent rise in popularity.

These practices have benefitted not only the farm’s productivity but also ensured watershed health and preserved water quality in Oatka Creek, a blue-ribbon trout stream. The farm has worked with the District to collect and treat silage leachate, manage manure better with new storage, and identify a plan to collect farmstead runoff and prevent it from entering the aquifer.

We thank Udderly Better Acres for their continued use of sustainable farming practices that help to preserve the land. 

Friends, advisors, helpers, John Zastrocky and Molly Higgins, with Don, Roz and Brad.

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

By Mike Pettinella
Mar 17, 2021, 6:14pm

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.

Soil & Water district 2021 brochure available now, order tree and shrub seedlings and more by March 10

By Billie Owens
Jan 19, 2021, 5:17pm

The Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District invites you to buy tree and shrub seedlings offered in its new 2021 brochure (PDF).

Conservation supplies are also available for sale.

All plants are sold for conservation purposes.

If you'd like some eye-popping visual appeal -- vivid color, you might like to try a species new in the district program this year -- the scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea). In the fall, its leaves are a real nice brilliant red, says District Manager Brad Mudrzynski. The acorn-producing scarlet oak makes a great shade tree.

Also new here this year are cover crop mix seed packets for small gardens -- up to 2,500 square feet. The ground-cover mix, which costs $5.50 per package, helps prevent erosion and holds nutrients like organic compost materials well in the soil.

Orders are filled on a first come, first serve basis. The district reserves the right to substitute species or refund payment if a choice of yours is unavailable.

Cash or check only accepted, checks should be payable to GCSWCD. Orders are due by March 10 on completed order forms (PDF) (Print out, fill in).

Pickup dates are typically between mid to late April and information will be sent after April 1.

For assistance, call the GCSWCD at (585) 343-2362, ext. 5, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Soil & Water Conservation District invites you to purchase plants by April 1

By Billie Owens
Jan 20, 2020, 3:37pm

Submitted image and information:

Each year the Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District holds a conservation tree, shrub and perennial ground cover sale.

A variety of evergreen, fruit, softwood, and hardwood bare-root seedling trees and transplants are available for purchase.

A variety of bare-root flowering shrubs, ferns, berry vines and perennial ground covers are also available to buy.

The yearly brochure* and order form** are made available in January and orders are accepted until April 1st.

Since orders are filled first come, first serve and while supplies last, they recommend ordering early, at least by mid-March. But orders are still accepted until April 1st.

After April 1st, you are encouraged to come shop and order on pickup days to see what's still on hand. Order pickup days are held at the Genesee County Fairgrounds on East Main Street Road in Batavia in mid to late April.

New this year is the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), which grow 100-feet tall and is long-lived. It is uncommon but a New York native species nonetheless. It tolerates very wet ground to average-moisture soils. Can handle some shade. It features showy yellow foliage in spirng; it's green in summer and orange in the fall. Needles regrow each year. It is offered as a 12- to 18-inch, 1-year-old seedling.

Another new offering is the striped maple (Acer pennsylvanicum). It grows 25 feet tall and prefers shade to semi-shade. It is adaptable to most soils. It features smooth gray/green bark with showy white/yellow striping. Its bark browns with age. The leaves look like a goose foot. Showy leaves in fall; flowers in spring. Considered a good landscape tree. Offered as a 1-year-old, 12-18 inch seedling.

Returning this year is the Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). It grows 70 to 100 feet tall and is native to the area. It prefers cool, shaded areas with moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Its finely textured foliage makes it good for screens and hedges. The species is intolerant of wind, salt, and excessively dry or wet soils. Only transplants are available, 7 to 12 inches high.

Also back for 2020 is the American mountain ash (Sorbus americana). This variety of bare-root deciduous tree seedlings is native and grows 35 to 40 feet tall. It's adaptable to most soil conditions. It is not shade tolerant. There are white flowers on it in spring. It IS resistant to the emerald ash borer. Comes as a 12- to 18-inch seedling.

New multi-species packs, created to help enhance your planting, are offered this year and they include:

  • Tim's Evergreen Pack
  • Windbreak Pack
  • Brad's "Wet Feet" Pack
  • Blossoms and Honeybees Pack
  • Bob's Edible Berry Pack
  • Hardwoods-for-the-Future Pack
  • Wildlife Habitat Pack

Please note that no customer substitutions are allowed on packs. The district also reserves the right to substitute species and sizes in the event of a crop shortage.

Bare-root fruit tree and grape packages are a convenient way to begin wildlife-friendly planting or a homestead orchard. New this year is the peach primer pack, suitable for the beginner.

Bare-root flowering shrub seedlings are available, too, and there are a couple of new ones, the butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) and buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).

The butterfly bush grows up to 12 feet high and prefers average-moisture, well-drained soils and full sun. Likely to die back in winter but grows again in spring. Purple, spike-like flower clusters up to 18-inches long from summer to first frost. Loved by birds, butterflies and honeybees.

The buttonbush grows up to 12-feet high and is adaptable to most soils. It prefers swampy areas, pond banks and full sun to moderate shade. Often used in rain gardens and for erosion control. White pincushion flowers bloom in spring. Highly used by birds, butterflies and honeybees.

Of the wildflower seed mixes, a native wildflower mix is available for 2020. It is intended to help restore native habitat landcaping and it's a great mixture to supply pollen and nectar for pollinators.

Bare-root berry vines and ferns are offered as well.

Please contact the district with any questions at 585-343-2362, ext. 5.

The district would also like to thank its newsletter sponsors that help make the newsletter possible. If you are interested in being a newsletter sponsor, please contact the district as it is a great way to get business information out to many people.

Remember to get your tree and shrub orders in by April 1! It is best to get in EARLY as some items are hot sellers and we do run out.

*Here's a link to peruse the latest brochure.

**Here's a link to the plant order form.

Town planners 'plant a seed' for solar farm developers, other communities to follow

By Mike Pettinella
Oct 15, 2019, 8:37pm

The Batavia Town Planning Board has a new and permanent message for developers of ground-mounted solar farms – “run for cover.”

Planners, at their monthly meeting tonight at the Town Hall on West Main Street Road, voted unanimously to adopt the document, “Solar Array Pollinator Habitat Planting Guidelines,” prepared by the Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District and to incorporate the guidelines into the required special use permit.

“I feel that we’re being proactive here and we welcome other communities to contact Soil & Water if they wish to utilize these guidelines,” said Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski.

Two weeks ago, the board heard a presentation from Bradley Mudrzynski, district manager for GCSWCD, who drafted a proposal covering topics related to the pollination and ground cover of the solar array.

The document’s topics include the need for and development of planting guidelines, site preparation, species mix, area required for planting, maintenance and performance standards.

The board was concerned about the percentage of the solar farm that should be planted, settling on 80 percent of the acreage inside the fenced-in area.

The guidelines call for a minimum of 80 percent of the solar area located within the fenced limits to be planted to perennial native vegetation, while the remaining 20 percent of the area is allowed to be maintained roadways, accessory structures, concrete pads, etc., necessary for management and maintenance of the solar array.

The document also requires mowing two to three times per growing season for the first two growing seasons to kill fast-growing annual weeds.

Prior to the official adoption of the planting guidelines, planners fielded questions from Daniel Yanosh and Tom Healy, project managers for a proposed 19.8-acre, 4-megawatt solar farm at 3565 Galloway Road, about the required percentage of pollination within the fenced-in area.

Yanosh and Healy were back in front of the board for a third time as they sought a special use permit and site plan review approval to move ahead.

Healy asked in a couple of different ways if area outside the fence could be considered when figuring the ground cover percentage, but was met with the same response: 80 percent of the area within the fenced-in area must be seeded with some sort of flowering vegetation.

Previously, Yanosh and Healy reported that they had made revisions to the site plan requested by the board (more screening with trees). Last night, they said they will be working with National Grid to keep the number of utility poles to a minimum.

Their latest information was enough to earn unanimous favorable votes on both the special use permit and site plan, with both measures contingent upon a final engineering review, adherence to the new pollinator guidelines and acquisition of a decommissioning bond.

Jasinski noted that the pollinator guidelines will apply to ground-mounted solar farms already in operation in the Town, with inspections by the zoning department being scheduled.

Photo: Daniel Yanosh, left, and Tom Healy speak to town planners about their Galloway Road solar farm project. Photo by Mike Pettinella. 

Town planners working with soil & water agency on solar farm pollination guidelines

By Mike Pettinella
Oct 2, 2019, 6:48am

Town of Batavia officials, in conjunction with the Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District, are looking at adopting guidelines for solar farm developers to follow when it comes to pollinator habitat plantings on ground-mounted


Appearing at the Batavia Town Planning Board meeting on Tuesday night at the Town Hall, Bradley Mudrzynski, district manager for GCSWCD (photo at right), presented a draft of a plan that covers topics such as the need and importance of pollination, planting process, maintenance and performance standards.

“The main thing is for flexibility (in the plan) – having the ability to plant in the fall or spring with either stock mix or through a seed contractor,” Mudrzynski said. “In the end, (you’re saying) the seed mix should look like this, with these characteristics.”

Mudrzynski’s plan supports the Town’s concern over losing prime farmland to solar development – even if temporarily – and the Town’s view that “pollinator habitat plantings can mitigate farmland losses and increase ecosystem services provided to farms in the form of pollination.”

Discussion with the planning board ultimately came down to the percentage of the solar farm that should be seeded, where to locate grass mix in the solar array and enforcement of the guidelines as they pertain to special use permits issued by the Town.

“When you spec out a 10-acre site (for example), what percentage of the solar array do you want planted down?” Mudrzynski asked. “Between the rows? Around the outside? Thirty percent? (The point being) finding a good and reasonable acreage or percentage.”

Working off a solar site pollinator habitat scorecard from the state of Vermont, planners initially said they were in favor of a 46 to 60 percent vegetative cover for each solar project. After more discussion, they agreed on 80 percent of the lot, including putting grass mix under the solar panels.

“And this (level) would cover those solar farms already approved since none have more than 20 percent (of the total space) for access roads,” said Steve Tanner, a planning board member.

As far as enforcement once the guidelines are formally approved, planners decided to include the pollinator piece in the special use permit and to require developers to work with GCSWCD or an “agreed-upon equally qualified consultant” such as a landscaper or architect to perform periodic inspections.

Planners also talked about the importance of developers contracting with licensed herbicide applicators to ensure that performance standards are achieved.

Following the 20-minute discussion, Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski said she will share the draft of the plan with other Town leaders and asked Mudrzynski to return to the next planning board meeting on Oct. 15 with an updated version.

In other developments, the planning board:

-- Voted to extend the State Environmental Quality Review process and tabled the developers’ application in connection with a proposal to build two 20-acre, 7.2-megawatt ground solar systems at 8050 Oak Orchard Road (Route 98).

The request by Borrego Solar Systems LLC has been in the works for quite some time, hampered by the fact that it seeks to site the solar farm on land that is in the Town’s Planned Business Development District.

Requirements of the PBD District center on a development of at least 100 acres – a measure put in by Town officials to ensure large-scale commercial projects that would benefit the Town and preserve the agricultural viability of the land.

Jasinski said that the board will take no action “until we get more information” from Borrego. She said she expects the developer to come in with a new application, which could result in having to redo the SEQR application as well.

Extension of the SEQR was mutually agreed upon by both the planning board and Borrego, as required, she noted.

-- Received an update from project officials Dan Yanosh and Tom Healy on the revisions made to their proposal for a 19.8-acre, 4-megawatt ground-mounted solar system at 3565 Galloway Road.

Last month, the plan by Bright Oak Solar LLC to place solar panels on property owned by Wayne Dunham was met with solid opposition from neighbors on Galloway and Lewiston roads, with comments focusing on lack of screening, decreased property values, and potential negative effects on the environment and aesthetics.

Yanosh and Healy presented another visual of the layout, this time noting that they added screening (trees) along the front on the southeast side – in response to an objection from the adjacent property owner – and increased the size of the culvert in front and reduced the number of poles from five to four.

Jasinski advised them that no action will be taken until they meet with town engineers and zoning officers to review the changes.

She did say the matter would be put on the board’s Oct. 15th meeting agenda as long as she receives a report from the aforementioned town officials before that date.

Soil and Water District continues to look after Genesee County's environment

By Howard B. Owens
Mar 19, 2019, 12:23pm
   Brad Mudrzynski

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.

Two members of GC Soil & Water Conservation District honored at statewide symposium

By Billie Owens
Apr 27, 2017, 3:50pm

Submitted photo: Holding award plaques are honorees Shelley Stein, left, and Jodi Chamberlain. (Names were not provided for the other individuals.)

Press release:

Two awards were presented to Genesee Co. Soil & Water Conservation District personnel last month at the NYS Conservation District Employees’ Association Inc. and NYS Soil and Water Conservation Committee’s 2017 Water Quality Symposium in Syracuse.

Congratulations to Genesee Co. SWCD Director and Chairperson Shelley Stein on receiving the District Director Award.

This fitting honor was bestowed upon Stein as she exemplifies the drive and determination all Districts should seek to head their organizations. Her knowledge of agriculture, passion for Genesee County, and commitment to conservation make her a commendable board member. Outside of the District board meetings Director Stein always has her Soil & Water hat on. She represents the District on the Genesee County Ag and Farmland Protection Board, and the Ag and Farmland Protection Steering Committee.

She also routinely attends CDEA and NYACD functions as well as Division meetings and Regional Managers’ meetings. When a topic arises where Soil & Water can help, she is sure to refer the District, whether it’s at the Genesee County Legislature, in her town of LeRoy, or in a discussion with a neighbor. As the Chairman of the Board she has worked hard to ensure that Genesee Co. SWCD is well perceived by the taxpayers, especially farm owners.

Congratulations also to District Clerk and Treasurer Jodi Chamberlain. Jodi was awarded the Division 1 Merit Award for her continuous hard work and dedication to the District.

In a beautiful presentation, the MC gave the crowd an overview of the many wonderful contributions Chamberlain has made to assist in achieving the mission of conserving natural resources. Jodi is a breath of fresh air and we are proud to say that she is extremely deserving of this honor. She goes above and beyond to assist county residents, staff and partners. Everyone in attendance enjoyed the evening as Jodi was acknowledged by her peers as “one of the best!”

Both women attribute the success of Genesee County Soil & Water to the stellar work ethic and terrific team effort demonstrated by all the staff.

Soil and Water board improves review of financial transactions after audit

By Howard B. Owens
Apr 17, 2017, 11:20am

The board of directors for the Soil and Water Conservation District has improved how it handles financial transactions following an audit by the NYS Comptroller's Office, according to a report released by the office.

The audit found deficiencies in the board's oversight for ensuring all revenue received was recorded with a receipt and that disbursements of payments were also properly recorded.

Starting Feb. 8, the board examines each claim (either a bill or invoice) and matches it to the proper abstract to determine its legitimacy and correctness, said Board ChairnShelly Stein, in a report sent back to the comptroller's office.

While auditors found no evidence of missing or mishandled funds, the audit report said the lack of detailed oversight by the board "creates a risk that payments may not be for appropriate purposes."

Auditors reviewed cash receipts totaling $947,000 and 170 nonpayroll cash disbursements totaling $227,000.

GC Soil & Water District taking orders for trees, flowers, shrubs, seeds, etc.

By Billie Owens
Mar 2, 2015, 3:55pm

The 2015 Tree & Shrub brochures and order forms are available from the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Categories include:

  • Coniferous tree seedlings;
  • Deciduous tree seedlings (new -- swamp white oak, black gum);
  • Wildlife shrubs (new -- winterberry, witch hazel, Midwest crabapple);
  • Flowers (new -- yarrow, aromatic aster, bee balm, zebra mallow, cross gentian, English lavender, wild columbine;
  • Grasses and sedges (new -- feather reed or diamond grass, red head fountain grass, banana boat sedge);
  • Variety packs = nut trees / edible (apricot, plum, butternut, pecan) / edible berries / wildlife shrub or windbreak pack;
  • NEW! Apple tree packages (only these must be ordered by March 15);
  • Planting, garden & habitat supplies (new -- Whiff Deer Deterrent, how-to guide book "Backyard Fruit Production"), bat houses, marking flags, tree shelters, etc.;
  • Wildflower seed packs;
  • Plus, tree seedling planters available for rent (day or half-day).

The GC Soil and Water Conservation District office is located at 29 Liberty St. in the City of Batavia. Phone is 343-2362.

E-mail:  <[email protected]>

Deadline is April 1 for all orders except apple tree packages (March 15). Orders placed after deadline may be filled until supplies last, but cannot be guaranteed. Quantities are limited. Distribution is mid-April and you will be notified of the pick-up date. Plants are sold for conservation purposes only. The district is not responsible for the success or failure of the plants.

Checks may be made out to:  Genesee Co. SWCD.

GC Soil & Water District announces annual native Tree and Shrub Sale

By Billie Owens
Feb 5, 2015, 2:39pm

Press release:

Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District is excited to announce the annual Tree and Shrub Sale! Folks are strongly encouraged to order as soon as possible, as the deadline for tree and shrub orders is April 1, and apple tree orders (new this year!) are due by March 15.

George Squires, district manager at Soil & Water, says, “People should get their orders in as soon as possible, we don’t want to disappoint people, so if you order early, there is still a good chance that your favorite varieties will be available.”

Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District to learn more and place your order: Genesee County -- (585) 343-2362.

The story below was written by Katherine Bailey, AmeriCorps intern at Genesee County SWCD

Why should you consider planting native tree and shrub species? Meet Joe Magee, resident of Stafford, Ph.D in Chemistry from UB, and avid native tree lover. Starting in 1996, Magee has purchased native tree seedlings from both Monroe and Genesee County Soil & Water tree and shrub programs. When asked why he wanted to plant so many trees on his 83 acres, he simply replied, “I wanted to live in the woods.”

Magee has come a long way in making his dream happen: 20,000 trees have been planted, many of them black cherry, white oak, red oak, black walnut, Austrian pine, Norway spruce, and white pine. For Magee, planting trees doesn’t stop the moment you plant them in the ground; they need to be taken care of, and he has made sure that all of his hardwood seedlings have ample protection from rodent and deer damage.

He hand-planted all of his trees, and he estimated that he could plant 10 trees per hour (including digging the hole, planting the seedling, and fitting the tree shelter on each one). In addition to seedlings on his property, Magee has a nursery where he grows 1000 seedlings that will eventually be ready for the outside. But it doesn’t end there; he also grows seedlings in paper orange juice and milk cartons outside his house, and since the paper is biodegradable, he can just put the whole container into the ground once the roots are developed.

Sounds like a lot of hard work, doesn’t it? But don’t let that deter you from conservation planting!

Joe said the most rewarding aspect of his long-term tree planting has been “the visual change from year to year.” The wildlife he sees from his house- bobolinks, orioles, owls, goldfinches, turkey, to name a few, reaffirms that his efforts are not only for his benefit, but for enhancing habitat. Planting a living thing into the ground and seeing it survive and grow is instant gratification.

Joe offered up some helpful tips from his work. First, if you want to try growing native trees on your property, take advantage of the expertise of your local Soil & Water District; the technicians will walk the land with you and look at soils and give recommendations. Secondly, there are a few good “starter” trees for beginners: white spruce and Norway spruce. These species grow fast and are relatively easy to maintain. Also red oak and red maple grow fairly fast. Even if you can only grow one tree or a small shrub, you will be doing your part to help enhance the native plant community right in your own backyard.

2014 Conservation Tree & Shrub Sale

By Elizabeth Bentley-Huber
Apr 3, 2014, 2:29pm

2014 Conservation Tree & Shrub Sale

Dear Friends in Conservation,

We are extending our ordering deadline and will continue to accept orders for our Annual Tree & Shrub Sale until each variety sells out. So please, if you haven't already done so, follow this link

Event Date and Time

Soil health workshop draws a large crowd

By Alecia Kaus
Dec 10, 2013, 6:03pm


Farmers from three counties packed the Generation Center on Center Street in Batavia this morning to learn how they can improve their yields and be better stewards of their land.

The first ever "Soil Health Workshop" was put on by the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District and the event attracted about 60 farmers from Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

Presenters talked about how to tell if your soil is healthy, disturbing your soil less, soil function and what works for you.

Molly Stetz, an AmeriCorp student intern for Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation, did an infiltration demonstration with donated soil from local farms.

Stetz says, "Many farmers do not know how to increase infiltration unless they visually see it using displays. It is an awakening for them to see how healthy their soil really is."

Farmers are always trying to increase infiltration because it causes less soil run-off into streams and creeks and there is also less compaction, which then optimizes plant roots and yield.

According to Heath Eisele of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, "Those of us in the conservation area thought this was something we needed to share with farmers. We are extremely surprised and glad to see that there is this much interest in soil health and that farmers want to treat their land better than what they are doing."

Stetz says "Farmers are looking for a way to network farmer-to-farmer and today was a good way to do that."

The Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District is hoping to have a field day event in the summer to do field demonstrations for area farmers.

To contact Gensee County Soil and Water about future workshops call 585-343-2363.

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