LTL to Help Northshore Dairy Farmers Reduce Nutrients

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The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has awarded The Land Trust for Louisiana a grant to assist with the clean out of wastewater lagoons in three northshore parishes – Tangipahoa, St. Helena, and Washington – with the goal of reducing nutrient and sediment loading to local streams. Through funding originating from the BP oil spill, LTL will work with NRCS, the local Resource Conservation and Development office and the Soil and Water Conservation District to identify and assist local dairy farmers with the clean out and improvement of on-farm waste-containment systems and development of comprehensive nutrient management plans. The goal of this effort is to reduce the discharge of sediments and pollutants from agricultural operations and improve the tributary streams, rivers and groundwater of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. The ecosystems in the project area provide habitat for numerous threatened and endangered plants and animals, which will benefit from the proposed land treatments.

Dairy farming in Louisiana has become more and more difficult in recent decades. At its peak, Louisiana had upwards of over 1,000 dairy farms but now fewer than 100 are in operation, most located in the three-parish project area. There are many reasons for this decline – increasing land costs, equipment, feed and fuel costs, and even climate change. Temperatures on average have risen in recent decades making milk production drop. This financial assistance is very welcome by dairy farmers working on the margin and in the face of so many challenges.

Live Oak Farm

The Land Trust for Louisiana is working in partnership with The Conservation Fund and rice farmers at Live Oak Farm in Vermilion Parish to secure permanent protection of a 5,800 rice farm through conservation easements. Live Oak, like many farms in southwest Louisiana, provides important habitat for waterfowl and other water-dependent birds along our coast. Rice production on these privately-held lands are an important driver of Louisiana’s economy and a part of our cultural heritage.

To date, The Conservation Fund has been awarded funding from the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) program to secure a conservation easement on a portion of the farm, with matching funds provided by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). NFWF has also funded the Land Trust for Louisiana’s efforts to document bird usage on the farm working with Audubon and other volunteers in the birding community. The Land Trust for Louisiana will hold the easements on Live Oak Farm and monitor these easements in perpetuity.

Photos Courtesy of The Conservation Fund