Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM)
GCSWCD staff are available to help farmers interested in participating in the Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) program. This state program was designed to enhance farm operations while protecting natural resources. As part of the program, staff evaluate current agricultural practices, offer conservations plans to address concerns, and connect the farm with available financial or technical assistance. Participation in AEM a requirement for NYS Grown & Certified. To learn more about AEM, visit: https://agriculture.ny.gov/soil-and-water/agricultural-environmental-management
Catskill Streams Buffer Initiative (CSBI) is Currently Accepting Applications
Are you a streamside landowner with property located in the Schoharie watershed? Schoharie watershed landowners with property within a riparian buffer (streamside) area may be eligible to participate in the CSBI program. Participants of this program work with GCSWCD to develop a planting plan for native trees and flowering shrubs to be installed within the riparian buffer zone.
What is a riparian buffer? Riparian, or streamside, buffers are vegetated or undisturbed natural areas along a stream. There are many benefits to installing a riparian buffer or increasing its size along a stream, including:
- Improved water quality: Riparian buffers serve as natural biofilters, protecting aquatic environments from polluted surface runoff. Riparian buffers reduce the amount of sediment flowing into streams by slowing surface water velocity and capturing sediment before it enters the stream. Riparian buffers reduce nutrients (i.e. nitrogen and phosphorous), pesticides, and other chemicals by slowing surface water velocity and allowing water to soak into the ground (infiltration) or be absorbed by the plants, which are able to naturally break down some of these pollutants.
- Increased habitat: Riparian buffers are extremely complex ecosystems that help provide optimum food and habitat for stream communities. The habitat provided by trees and shrubs also doubles as a corridor for species that have had their habitat fragmented by various land uses. Both aquatic and terrestrial species benefit from riparian buffers that have been protected or restored. The leaves and woody debris that fall into the stream provide food and habitat for even the tiniest of aquatic creatures, which are critical for the food chain.
- Stabilized streambanks: Native plants form extensive root systems that help hold the soil in place and slow the process of erosion.
- Water temperature control: By providing shade over the streams, trees and shrubs are able to help regulate the water temperature. They can even have a significant impact on moderating the effects of climate change on aquatic ecosystems, particularly in our headwater streams.
- Improved flood control: Riparian buffers encourage infiltration of stormwater by slowing the speed of the water running off the land and increasing the amount of water that is absorbed into the ground. Groundwater enters the stream at a much slower rate than surface water, which helps control flooding and maintain stream flow throughout the year.