Farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin have the chance to sign up for a special program to improve water quality in the Great Lakes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will pay a portion of the cost of conservation practices that keep sediment and nutrients on the land and out of the Lake.
“Impacts on Lake Erie water quality from harmful algal blooms and excessive sedimentation are a real issue to Ohio residents,” says Terry Cosby, NRCS State Conservationist. “Water in the Lake Erie watershed provides drinking water for 11 million people. Over $10 billion is spent on recreation and tourism in the Lake Erie region every year.”
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding will be available to Ohio farmers through existing NRCS conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). Through these programs, landowners receive technical and financial assistance to implement conservation activities on their land that conserve soil, water, air, and wildlife resources. The deadline to sign-up for GLRI conservation programs is July 1.
Applications from farmers in the Blanchard, Lower Maumee, Upper Auglaize, Cedar-Portage, and Sandusky sub-watersheds will receive priority consideration for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding.  Farmers in the St. Marys, Ottawa, St. Joseph, Tiffin, and Upper Maumee watersheds may also apply. The counties in Ohio that have land in all or part of these watersheds include: Allen, Auglaize, Crawford, Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Huron, Lucas, Marion, Mercer, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Richland, Sandusky, Seneca, Shelby, Van Wert, Williams, Wood and Wyandot.    
Maps of the areas eligible for GLRI funding are posted on the Ohio NRCS web site at www.oh.nrcs.usda.gov/. Contact your local Hardin County NRCS office for more information at 419-673-7238, ext 3.