70th-annual meeting held Tuesday by Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District

The Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District held its 70th-annual meeting and supervisor election at the Fayette County Demonstration Farm on Tuesday. This event was held jointly with Fayette County Farm Bureau.

A public election took place to fill one seat as supervisor for a three-year term commencing on Jan. 1, 2018. Incumbent Kyle Montgomery was challenged by Cody Kirkpatrick and Jared Persinger. Residents and owners or renters of land in Fayette County had the opportunity to vote in this election since July 25. A representatives of the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission was on hand to oversee the election.

Montgomery won re-election to the board.

The district has awarded scholarships each year since 1998 to one or more graduating high school seniors who are enrolled in a college or university and pursuing a natural resource or agriculture-related degree. This year, Clare Sollars and Todd Peterson were each awarded a Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District Scholarship in the amount of $500. Both are graduates of Miami Trace High School and will be attending The Ohio State University. Clare intends to major in food, agriculture, and biological engineering. Todd intends to major in agribusiness & applied economics.

Natural resource specialist Brigitte Hisey was recognized for her five years of service with the district. She is responsible for the education and outreach efforts of the district. She works with teachers at Miami Trace and Washington City Schools as well as libraries, civic and private organizations, and the general public.

The “Cooperator of the Year” award was presented to the Bihl family, represented by David and Janet Bihl and their son Luke. Over the past few years the Bihls have installed numerous best management practices. These practices include quail buffers, wetland restorations, over 120 acres of conservation cover, and enough fencing to completely exclude their cattle herd from entering the stream that runs through their property.

Fayette SWCD Director Chet Murphy briefly spoke on a few of the programs that the district offers and thanked the agencies that partner with the district in order to make these programs possible. Murphy announced the district has closed on its first agricultural easement to protect farmland. The district is the certified local sponsor for the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program.

Through this program, an agricultural easement was purchased on a 254-acre farm in Jeffersonville Township using money from the Clean Ohio Fund. This perpetual easement only allows agricultural developments to be made on the farm. Commercial development is prohibited. The district is in the process of closing on another agricultural easement for 253 acres and is working on a third for 244 acres. Applications for the next round will be accepted in January 2018.

The most recent Scrap Tire Amnesty Program was concluded earlier this year and 19,107 passenger tire equivalents were collected. Since its first collection program in 2010, the district has collected 54,862 from the farms, residences, streams, and public lands of Fayette County. OEPA grants totaling $85,156 have been used to recycle these tires.

Replacing failed septic systems has been another major program of the district this year in partnership with the Fayette County Health Department. Untreated sewage eventually flows into the surface waters of the county. There it contributes to the nutrient and coliform bacteria loads that are major causes of local streams not achieving their attainment goals for water supply or recreational activities.

The district received a $200,000 grant from OEPA to replace failed septic systems, officially referred to as Home Sewage Treatment Systems or HSTS. The systems installed using these funds will now treat over 2.3 million gallons of sewage each year. The district has been awarded another $300,000 to continue this program through 2018.

The district will again partner with ODNR’s Division of Wildlife for the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative. The Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative’s primary focus is to educate the public and to assist in efforts to create habitat for Monarch Butterflies. Monarchs only lay their eggs on milkweeds. The district is participating in a statewide milkweed pod collection. The public is encouraged to collect mature milkweed pods during September and October. These pods can be dropped off at the district office. The pods will then be transported to a processor. There the seeds will be separated and planted to produce seedlings for new pollinator plots.

Murphy thanked the board of Fayette County Commissioners. None of these programs would be possible without the support of the commissioners, who provide a local contribution to fund the district’s operations. The State of Ohio also provides a match on a percentage of this contribution.

Murphy closed by thanking all those individuals and groups who work with the district to protect and improve the natural resources of Fayette County.

For more information on any program offered by Fayette Soil & Water Conservation District, call 740-636-0279. The district office is located in the Fayette Agricultural Center, 1415 US 22 SW, Suite 500, Washington Court House, OH, 43160.

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Kyle Montgomery was reelected as a FSWCD supervisor at Tuesday’s annual meeting.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2017/08/web1_Kyle-Montgomery.jpgKyle Montgomery was reelected as a FSWCD supervisor at Tuesday’s annual meeting.

Todd Peterson with FSWCD chairman Fred Melvin.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2017/08/web1_Todd-Peterson_Chairman-Fred-Melvin.3.jpgTodd Peterson with FSWCD chairman Fred Melvin.

Clare Sollars with FSWCD chairman Fred Melvin.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2017/08/web1_Clare-Sollars_Chairman-Fred-Melvin.1.jpgClare Sollars with FSWCD chairman Fred Melvin.

FSWCD chairman Fred Melvin (second from right) presents the Cooperator of the Year Award to David, Luke and Janet Bihl.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2017/08/web1_David-Bihl_Luke-Bihl_Chairman-Fred-Melvin_Janet-Bihl.3.jpgFSWCD chairman Fred Melvin (second from right) presents the Cooperator of the Year Award to David, Luke and Janet Bihl.

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