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Owasco Lake Agricultural Conservation Blueprint

Check out the attached document.  I have pasted in an excerpt from the introduction below.  


Farmers are some of our nation’s greatest environmental stewards. This notion is perhaps better
exemplified in New York than anywhere else. Almost 10 million residents of New York City
and the City of Syracuse receive clean, unfiltered drinking water every day thanks in part to
efforts to protect farmland and promote environmental stewardship of that land in watersheds
surrounding their water supplies. These actions not only keep water clean, they annually save
hundreds of millions of dollars by avoiding the costs of constructing and operating water
treatment facilities.
Success in keeping water clean in
these watersheds, like many others
in New York, is due in part to
farmers protecting their land and
managing it as a natural water
filter, as well as targeted
investments made by government
agencies in farmland conservation
programs and staff to work with
farmers. However, at a time of
tight budgets at all levels of
government, public funds and
agency staff to aid farmers to
protect and steward their land are
under threat. Thus, practical, costeffective
solutions are needed to enable farmers to pro-actively address water quality problems.
Through the development of the Owasco Lake Agricultural Conservation Blueprint, American
Farmland Trust and its partners have sought such solutions that strengthen the economic viability
of farming while addressing water quality concerns in Owasco Lake.
Project Background
Well managed farms make key contributions to the health of New York’s environment, economy
and culture. Within New York State, 30 percent of the private land (7 million acres) is in
agriculture. Approximately 55% of the Owasco Lake watershed is in agricultural use with
approximately 200 farms.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Cayuga County’s 936farms sold
almost $214 million in farm products in 2007. Assuming one-fifth of these products were
produced in the Owasco Lake watershed (the watershed’s share of the county’s agricultural land
base), the value of products sold annually from watershed farms is more than $36 million, with
many of these farm businesses are closely tied with other local businesses such as Byrne Dairy.
Additionally, local farms provide fresh, healthy food and farm products to consumers at farmers’
markets such as the Central New York Regional Market and farm stands throughout the region.

Owasco Lake is the sixth largest Finger Lake with a drainage basin of 205 square miles.
Although Owasco Lake is one of the smaller Finger Lakes, the size of the drainage basin ranks
third of all the Finger Lakes. The soils within the watershed are deep, well drained, and contain
significant amounts of calcium that make them ideal for agricultural production.

The project goals of Owasco Lake Agricultural Conservation Blueprint include:
• compile existing research and data about the state of Owasco Lake, including actions
being taken by farmers in the Owasco Lake Watershed to protect water quality,
• identify the practices and activities relevant to agriculture that hold the most promise
for improving water quality and reducing barriers to farmers’ adoption of such
practices, and
• develop a “conservation blueprint” with recommendations for action at the local, state
and federal levels of the most viable options for assisting farmers in enhancing water
quality in the Owasco Lake watershed.

The ultimate goal of this project is to enable farmers in the Owasco Lake watershed to proactively
take steps to enhance and protect water quality. This outcome will require solutions that
deliver environmental results but are also practical and support economically viable farming in
the Owasco Lake Watershed.