Danny Barger, the new Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District (JSWCD) Manager, recently provided the Jackson County Commissioners with an update on the agency’s undertakings since he assumed the role in late June. Barger, who was joined by JSWCD Fiscal Officer/Treasurer Annetta Lewis and Board Chairman Andrew Bennett, was also present for the Nov. 2 meeting to request an additional $5,000 in funding for 2022.

During his brief report, Barger discussed services provided by the agency such as drainage water inspections, timber harvest plans, pond inspections/evaluations and treatments, equipment rentals, and current agriculture use value (CAUV) inspections. Regarding the latter, Barger said he has established a plan to perform CAUV inspections in three townships a year over the course of three years, and that roughly 1,550 have been conducted to date.

While performing these inspections, Barger said it was discovered that most of Jackson County’s out-of-county landowners are not complying with timber-management protocols. As a result, he told the Commissioners that he and Jackson County Auditor Tiffany Ridgeway have been working diligently to rectify the situation, which he says will ultimately result in more money coming back to the county.

As for other ongoing projects, Barger said the JSWCD is in the process of starting a 4-H Spin Program, which is a six-week course in ecology, forestry and wildlife, and is also seeking grant funding to install a storybook trail at the Boone Rock site.

Regarding funding, the JSWCD was provided $10,000 from the county for 2021 and $35,000 in matching funds from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). Comparatively, the Gallia County SWCD was provided $119,000 in county funds, Pike County received $62,250, and Vinton County was provided $24,000. Bennett added that, as Jackson County is eligible to receive a 200-percent match from the state, the JSWCD has “the ability to really stretch” the dollars provided by the county.

Overall, Barger said he was requesting $15,000 from the county for 2022, which is an increase of $5,000 from 2021. The agency was provided $15,000 in funding from the county in 2020. He said if the $15,000 were to be provided, the subsequent flat rate and matching funds from the ODA would bring the JSWCD’s budget to $60,000 for 2022.

Regarding the amount of funding the SWCD brings into the county through a close working relationship with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Barger said that total was close to $291,000 in 2020.

Though nothing was officially decided upon, the Commissioners said the request would be taken into consideration and expressed that the funding increase would likely not be a problem.