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District Helping Landowners With Environmental Impact

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
District Helping Landowners With Environmental Impact

Overton County’s Soil and Water Conservation District is providing landowners with a way to improve their land through environmental improvements.

District Conservationist Robert Halfacre said the district is a county organization that helps landowners design and fund projects that will have a positive environmental impact on the land. Halfacre said the program is a strong advocate for agriculture.

“We are basing the spending of any taxpayer money on that private land based off the environmental benefits,” Halfacre said. “But producers will often find that they see benefits above and beyond the environmental benefits that would result from a project being completed.”

Halfacre said the district has various programs that address resource concerns relating to soil, water, air, plants, animals, and energy. He said there is a ranking system to decide which requests get funded by determining the environmental impact of each plan.

“We typically do not receive enough money to fund all of our applications, unfortunately,” Halfacre said. “We work very hard to get our hands on all the money that we can get. Last year we funded about a third of the applications that we had for that primary working lands program.”

Halfacre said the district also has programs outside of their work with individual people or entities, such as the Emergency Watershed Protection program.

“That program is specific to, we’ve had a natural disaster that would occur, that’s typically looking at flooding and that there was damage to critical infrastructure,” Halfacre said. “We’re typically dealing on county roads where we have a stream alongside of the road. This flood event had come through and had kind of washed out the road, the shoulder, that sort of thing, and we’re able to come in and help to armor those banks and to be able to get that road back into a usable form.”

Halfacre said the district does not take on environmental impact projects itself, as the bulk of its work comes from the numerous requests from people in the county. Halfacre also serves as the district conservationist for Putnam County.


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