Programs for Healthy Rivers

This grass buffer lies along a stream in an agricultural field.

EASTON — Envision the Choptank is a partnership that works to find collaborative solutions to restore fishable, swimmable waters to the Choptank River while working to meet the needs of local communities. With support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Envision the Choptank is offering incentive money to farmers to accelerate the implementation of clean water practices in the Choptank River watershed. These practices include wetlands, grass and forested buffers, and bioreactors. The incentives are designed to thwart common barriers to implementation by providing more flexible payments, opportunities to reduce wait-times, assistance with landowner costs associated with federal and state cost-share programs, and options to install practices outside of cost-share programs.

The grass buffer program provides a flexible width option (10-50 feet), no mowing restrictions, and a shorter time commitment (three years). Participants receive $900 – $1,300 per acre. This program offers a great opportunity for landowners to try out a buffer before having to make a long-term commitment with a cost-share program.

The forested buffer program is similar to state and federal programs but expands the opportunity to include upland farm areas that are no longer operational due to the installation of other conservation practices, irrigation challenges, or the squaring-off of fields. Participants receive $2,000 per acre.

The wetland restoration program offers $3,000 per acre to use flexibly to accommodate landowner needs. Funds can cover an engineering design that helps expedite the project through the Soil Conservation District process. Alternatively, funds can offset the landowner portion of state or federal cost-share programs. And finally, funds can support both design and construction if cost-share programs are not being used.

Bioreactors are now an approved cost-share practice through the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) Program. To further incentivize this farm- and water-friendly practice, Envision is offering to cover the landowner portion of the cost-share, or 12.5% of the total cost.

Agricultural landowners with property in the Choptank River watershed and an interest in grass or tree buffers, wetland restoration, or bioreactors, may be eligible for these incentives. Areas within the Choptank River watershed include portions of Dorchester, Caroline, Talbot, and Queen Anne’s County and Kent County, Del. For more information, contact Whitley Gray at wgray@shorerivers.org or 443-385-0511 ext. 202.

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