Farmers may be leery of anyone from the federal government promising help, but here's one offer that sounds too good to refuse.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service announced this week that it is making up to $315,000 available to "farmers, ranchers and forest landowners" in the Catoctin Creek watershed in western Frederick County.
The offer is part of a new water quality initiative by the NRCS directing technical and financial help to 157 watersheds nationwide. Eligible farmers and forest owners (are there any ranchers in Frederick?) will get federal advice and money to put in filter strips, stream fencing and animal waste storage facilities that should curb polluted runoff from fields, pasture and feedlots.
The 120-square mile Catoctin watershed could use the help, it seems. According to the NRCS, the creek's waters are impaired by sediments, nutrients and fecal coliform, and the stream's biological communities are suffering as well. The watershed is 43 percent agricultural, 42 percent forest and 15 percent urban.
For more information, or to apply, contact the Frederick County USDA Service Center, 301-695-2803. Deadline for applying is June 15.