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Brown County SWCD helping to ‘whittle down’ EQIP backlog

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In January 2018, Ohio’s Brown County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) received a technical assistance grant from the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) designed to add capacity at the local level to provide more assistance to landowners. This technical assistance grant came at a perfect time for Brown County SWCD.

Brown County SWCD hired Chris Rogers to serve as its conservation technician more than 25 years ago, which eventually led him to become the district manager. Due to budget cuts, Brown County SWCD was unable to hire a replacement conservation technician, so Rogers was wearing both hats and that slowed progress. Rogers wrote a job description and waited patiently for the right applicant. In late spring, the district hired John Brown (pictured at right), an environmental engineering technologies graduate who had interned with neighboring Clermont County SWCD.

According to Rogers, Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) participants are thankful that time delays have been reduced.

“The EQIP backlog is being whittled down and we are really moving forward in our programming,” Rogers said. “There is no longer a concern about how we are going to see these contracts and projects through from start to finish. Planning, design and construction are also moving forward, which has more customers coming in our doors to get information about EQIP or to sign up.”

Brown works closely with the local NRCS civil engineering technician, who has provided training. This relationship has opened the door to Brown County SWCD taking on more projects and designs.

“We would not have been able to hire a candidate of this caliber without the support of the NACD-NRCS technical assistance grant program,” Rogers said. “It’s allowing the district to move forward in fulfilling our mission.”

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