Federal Green Funding Could Be Big Benefit to Winn

With the current emphasis of “green” and conservation in our nation’s capitol, there’s good news from Washington that could impact landowners in Winn Parish, if they’ll take advantage of it, Glenn Austin with the Dugdemona Soil and Water Conservation District told Winnfield Rotarians at their May 3 meeting.

“There’s a lot of talk and funding concerning conservation these days but ironically that’s what our agency has been all about for over 80 years,” Austin emphasized. When he asked members what that “green” might mean, he heard the right answer: trees and forestry. Then he added “and pastureland.”

The federal Inflation Reduction Act passed in August 2022 offers a tremendous funding expansion for the agency nationally over the next four years, with resources growing from the millions to the billions of dollars. But once the Act’s funding peaks, it will begin to drop and by 2031 will be gone.

However, the money does not flow automatically to landowners. They will want to apply to the Dugdemona SWCD for approved practices such as site preparation and tree planting. As guidelines may mean federal funding might cover 75% of approved practices, landowners would have a financial interest in their ventures, as well. If Winn residents don’t apply, it’s likely that landowners elsewhere would take advantage of the funding opportunity.

He pointed out that approved practices on pasturelands are also fundable. “There is a lot more activity in the cattle industry here than many realize.”

Austin touched on a second topic, that being feral swine. The agency previously spoke to Rotary about its active swine trapping program. It’s a good program and up through the past few weeks, the agency has been able to keep pace with landowner requests to place traps on properties. Due to the breeding rate of the feral swine, the problem of property damage by swine herds (or “sounders”) continues to grow.

Some people still don’t understand the need to eliminate the pest, Austin said. “We don’t want to trap or kill just one or two. We want to catch the entire sounder.” Live wild swine cannot legally be transported from one site to another.

The new program the SWCD has launched is one of swine tracking, using a very sophisticated (and expensive) tracking collar. The goal is for agency scientists to better understand the movement of individual swine and their groups in the region. The tightly-fitting collar constantly transmits the location of its wearer and is designed to self-unlock and fall off in three years, landing where it may be retrieved by the agency.

For any program details, contact Dugdemona Soil and Water Conservation District at 628-4438.

Cutline for Rty DugSWCD:
From left are Dugdemona Soil and Water Conservation District staffers Lane Faulk, Glenn Austin, Debra Hubbard, Kalee Dorton and Rotarian Keith Gates who arranged the program.