Tag Archives: water

Navigating the Idaho 319 Program

By: Matt Woodard, Chairman of the East Side Soil and Water Conservation District

Section 319 of the Clean Water Act established a grant program under which states, territories, and tribes may receive funds to support a wide variety of non-point source pollution management activities, including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects, and monitoring to assess the success of specific non-point source implementation projects.  Source

A good 319 project is regionally significant, important to many agencies, addresses multiple concerns, has multiple benefits beyond water quality, watershed based, on the 303(d) list, and has public outreach such as statewide/local press.

Letters of recommendation about your project are a critical part of your 319 application.  Letters from your local WAG, soil conservation district chairman, DEQ water quality administrator, supporting agencies (like USFC, IDFG, NRCS) county commissioners, city officials, other state/fed reps), environmental organizations, trade associations (like IASCD), industry associations are all examples of acceptable support letters.  Be sure each letter is signed, dated, and provided to DEQ with the completed application.  A large, diverse support base often receives a greater consideration during the competitive funding process.

The maximum amount of funding you can receive from a 319 grant is $250,000.  319 grants will fund up to 60% of the total project.  The remaining 40% needs to be non-federal funding in the form of match funds (hard or soft, or in kind).  You should know that only 10% of the grant can go to administrative costs; administrators like to see the maximum amount of funding go to an on-the-ground project.

Timeline For FY 2014 319 Grant Funding

April 8, 2013: Pre-Application Process Opens

May 6, 2013: Pre-Application Process Closes

May 31, 2013: All pre-application reviews to be completed; DEQ will communicate with applications on any questions they have on your project.

August 1, 2013: A completed online application is due to be received by DEQ; prior to that, the project should have been reviewed by the local WAG.  Their approval of the project is necessary for it to go forward.

September 13, 2013: All qualifying project applications are to be sent to the respective BAG chairman for review.

October 1-31, 2013: Each applicant is required to present their project to the respective BAG.  The BAG will rank projects based on regional importance, the amount of funding requested, and other factors.

November 6, 2013: Results of each regional project ranking are summarized and forwarded to each regional BAG chair.

December 2, 2013: DEQ Water Quality staff and the chair from each BAG meet in Boise to discuss the projects.  From this group of projects comes the final rank in order of priority.

Approximately $1.2 million is awarded state wide each year, and has grown very competitive.  Your project should be thought out and address those multiple concerns.  A good Power Point with lots of photos of the project area and a budget breakdown is a great idea for your presentation.  Also, get to know your local DEQ water quality manager.  You should ask them lots questions.  They are there to help you!

Finally, mark your calendar for April 30th.  The Balanced Rock and Twin Falls SWCDs are holding a training day for 319 grants.  The hours are from 9am to 3pm, at the Jerome Fish and Game Office.

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March/April 2013 eNewsletter Posted

Our March/April 2013 eNewsletter has been posted to our website.  Please click here to read it.

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SWC’s Budget Presentation Before the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee

Earlier today, the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission gave their annual budget presentation to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.  Administrator Teri Murrison gave the committee a brief history of soil conservation districts in Idaho and the birth of the Soil and Water Conservation Commission. 

Teri said that we maximize the natural resources for our state, and our “Idaho Way” is not a heavy-handed, regulatory approach. She then listed some of the major trends driving conservation are urban growth, reductions in funding, and water quality. 

There are a number of core functions of the SWC such as technical support to districts, conservation programs, and administration.  Teri let JFAC members know the total CREP contracts were at 157, and had a total of 17,210 acres enrolled in the program. 

Next, Teri spoke about the current TMDL workload, and the number of plans completed over the last five years.  She explained some of the backlogged plans and how long it takes a staff member to complete a TMDL. 

“We’re passionate about the land, natural resources and locally-led, voluntary conservation,” concluded Teri.  She then took a few questions from committee members.

Like last year, Representative Ringo said she is concerned that the full 2-to-1 match was note funded, and asked Teri what could be done with a full match.  Teri said IASCD provided her a list of possible district projects, and that will be submitted to Representative Ringo. 

Representative King asked for further explanation of the TMDL program and the requested full-time position.  Teri provided the Representative with the needed background, and then took a question from Senator Nuxoll about how match funding works. 

There were no further questions, and the presentation wrapped up about 8:55am. 

Thank you for all who attended or listened online!

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ISWCC Is Looking for a Water Quality Resource Conservationist

The Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission has one immediate opening for a Water Quality Resource Conservationist.  The service area for this position covers Region 4 in south central Idaho including Twin Falls, Gooding, Blaine, Arco, Challis, and Salmon.  We’ve posted part of the job announcement, so if you want to learn more, please click here.

Core Responsibilities:

Provide technical assistance in water quality plan development and implementation for Soil Conservation Districts and serve as the primary point of contact and liaison between area Soil Conservation Districts and the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission.

Conduct resource inventories for agriculture land use areas.  Identify and define water quality and other resource concerns originating with agriculture activities, giving priority to implementation within TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) areas, water quality impaired watersheds, and ground water nitrate priority areas.

Provide local leadership & technical assistance for implementation of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) in partnership with the USDA
For more information, or to apply to the position, please click here.

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Little Salmon River Watershed Tour- August 30, 2012

On August 30th, the Adams Soil and Water Conservation District co-hosted a tour with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to see riparian habitat improvement projects in the Little Salmon River watershed.

Our first stop was at Four Mile Creek.  This was a project that added more vegetation as a riparian buffer and a fence around the stream bank.  A vegetation strip provides a buffer to flood waters and filters runoff into streams.  The vegetation adds additional shade to the creek, keeping the water temperatures cool.  Also, the growth provides shade for the cattle in the field.    The photo shows a water gap with a hardened crossing for livestock, and the top of the photo shows a livestock exclusion area.  The crossing area is appropriately wide, sloped and hardened with rock so that livestock do not tramp the banks into mud.


Our next stop was further down Four Mile Creek, as another land owner was rebuilding part of the riparian habitat.  We saw a number of willow plantings, using a technique called “willow weaving”.  This is used to stabilize eroding stream banks without the use of heavy equipment.  A water pump connected by a garden hose to a “stinger” is used to bore holes with pressurized water at an angle from the top of the stream bank down to just above the water line.  A long, straight willow stem is then inserted into the hole extending down through the bank and into the stream.  This leaves a gap from where the willow stem comes out of the bank, and down into the stream bottom.  Cut willow stems are then woven between the stems to form a very tight protective mat along this gap.  Once these cuttings begin to root and grow, they provide an excellent protection for the stream bank.

Our last stop was the Little Salmon River near Four Mile Creek.  Riparian buffers, livestock fencing, and other techniques have been used to slow the erosion of the stream bank.  The photo shows an area where planting had occurred on the banks, but due to the dry hot summer, the plantings were struggling despite their attempts to water them weekly.  The point bar on stream left is doing well with many willows, but is pushing the river into the higher, opposite bank which is eroding because it does not have much woody vegetation yet.  This is the way streams attempt to get their meanders back.  Encouraging natural meanders will help slow the flows in high water, allow sediment deposition, eventually raising stream beds and narrowing the channel.  Over time, this will allow water to remain on the fields longer and release water more slowly back to the stream.  More planting on the right bank will help stabilize these banks.  If the plantings are protected from livestock for a period of time and livestock are properly managed afterward, the banks should recover quickly.

Thank you for such a great tour!

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Canyon SCD’s 319 Project Tour – Stop Two

Our next stop on the 319 project tour was at Ubilla Farm.  A pivot sprinkler had been installed on a 60 acre field to replace a surface irrigation system.  Sand Hollow Creek runs next to the field, and any runoff/sediments were ending up in the creek.  The soil is mostly a silt loam with sandy loam areas, and has a soil loss of over 15 tons per acre per year.  Before the pivot was installed, erosion occurred at the top and bottom of the field.  The field was also leveled to improve infiltration.

Like the drip system on our first stop, the pivot system will reduce soil erosion, water runoff, allow for more efficient water application, increase plant quality, use nutrients more efficiently, and require less pesticides and fertilizers.   Water use efficiency increased by 40%, saving more than 50 acres inches per acre per year.

Check back tomorrow for the third and final stop on this great tour!

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Lemhi SWCD 50th Anniversary

In our April/May eNewsletter, we featured a short article about the Lemhi Soil and Water Conservation District’s 50th anniversary. Here is the full article written by Jane Sandstrom, Treasurer for the Lemhi SWCD.

On May 22, 2012 the Lemhi SWCD will be celebrating 50 years of conservation in Eastern Idaho. It only took 6 months of meetings, hearings and a referendum in 4 communities; Salmon, Lemhi, Leadore and May before the Lemhi SWCD received their Certificate of Organization in 1962. In the first 4 months 28 ranchers & farmers signed up to be cooperators. This initial success has continued over the years as we work with landowners to preserve natural resources, while improving their agricultural operations.

The district encompasses about 2,749,000 acres with around 240,000 acres in private ownership. The population is around 8,000 making this a very rural area. Main industries include agriculture, mainly livestock operations, recreation, and some mining.

First projects of the Lemhi SWCD included soil surveys, developing conservation plans for landowners, land leveling and irrigation improvements and rock rip rapping on the Salmon, Lemhi and Salmon North Fork rivers. These basic steps resulted in better water management, erosion control, and improved agricultural production.

Developing and improving irrigation practices continued to be a focus in the 1960’s. In the 1970’s more emphasis was placed on the use of sprinklers to conserve both water and soil. In the 1980’s the district started to promote minimum tillage and gravity sprinklers to save energy and water along with use of new plant material for livestock forage.

The 1990’s brought a change with the listing of salmon as endangered and other fish as threatened, and recognizing the assistance we could provide to landowners to protect and improve a variety of natural resources. The 2000’s continued the focus on fish habitat now including larger designs with stream reconnects and fish passage improvements. We worked with many partners on these projects.

The 2010’s bring a new challenge: trying to keep local input and interests alive and relevant. Projects have become bigger and include both more landowners, partnering agencies, and organizations now involved with conservation and land stewardship.

Recent projects of the Lemhi SWCD include replacing culverts with fish friendly bridges, stream reconnects – that include improved irrigation systems for landowners – and fencing of riparian areas. Annual tours of projects, county fair participation, and educational programs over the years have provided outreach and education of local producers and youth. Lemhi SWCD’s current support of an ongoing study of grazing riparian areas strengthens our interest in an overall approach to projects for natural resource protection.

A few interesting highlights of the past include hosting a mink fashion show for the IASCD Auxiliary, which was sponsored by a then local mink farm, and participating in a proposal to add 7 new soil types to the National Soil Taxonomy classifications as a result of soil surveys in the surrounding counties. The LSWCD was also instrumental in forming the Lemhi Model Watershed office in 1992 (now the Upper Salmon Basin Watershed Program).

Who knows how priorities will change in the next 50 years, but the Lemhi SWCD will continue to be THE local organization that promotes, protects, and supports voluntary conservation by landowners of the natural resources found in our beautiful valley.

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