USC Buffer Program Funding Opportunity

The USC Comprehensive Riparian Buffer Program (USC Buffer Program) seeks to offer financial compensation and resource assistance (planning, design and plant material) to increase the implementation and restoration of riparian forest buffers and associated water quality BMPs through conventional, as well as new programs.  All projects require the implementation or restoration of a riparian buffer to be eligible for USC Buffer Program funding. Implementation of riparian forest buffers at least 35’ in width for streambank stabilization and/or pasture system development are priorities for this funding, however, all projects will be considered.  Applications for round 2 of funding are due August 17th.

Download the buffer application here:

Round 2 Buffer Application for Funding

Upper Susquehanna Coalition Riparian Buffer Technician

Position Description: This position will assist the current USC Buffer Coordinator with new and current efforts to reforest riparian areas. It is recognized in the Chesapeake Bay Forest Restoration Strategy that forest restoration is a “long term endeavor that begins with planting and caring for trees.” Therefore this new position will not only focus on implementation of new riparian buffer acres, but also strategies to monitor and maintain planted buffers to ensure the desired function is obtained. This position is a 12 month, temporary position with potential for extension.

Position tasks will include:

  • Perform tasks associated with riparian forest buffer implementation, including the planning, design, installation, and maintenance of streamside buffers;
  • Develop and implement monitoring strategies for streamside buffers;
    Provide direct, one-on-one assistance to landowners on buffer implementation and maintenance;
  • Educate USC districts and partners on riparian buffer implementation, establishment, and available resources;
  • Coordinate volunteers for planting events;
  • Collect data on buffer condition and maintenance performed; and
  • Assist other USC Teams with planning and implementation, as needed.

Qualifications: A Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited four-year college or university in Natural Resource Management, Forestry, Watershed Science, Stream Ecology, Agriculture, or closely related field; and excellent verbal communication skills with interest in working with the public, valid NYS Driver’s License with reliable transportation, ability to perform physically demanding work in an outdoor setting, flexibility to occasionally work weekend hours, and an interest in forestry, habitat restoration or public outreach.

Supervision/Location: This position will be based at the Tioga County Soil and Water Conservation District office and will be supervised by the Upper Susquehanna Coalition’s Riparian Buffer Coordinator. Buffer Technician Position 2017

Please submit a cover letter and resume to Lydia Brinkley at by May 5, 2017

Friday, April 28th USC Meeting in Owego

The USC Bi-Monthly meeting brings USC members and partners together to discuss ongoing projects, upcoming opportunities and events, and exchange ideas on natural resource issues.  Contact us for more information on what to expect at our next meeting.USC Logo

USC Buffer Program Application for Funding

The USC Buffer Program Application for Funding is now available!  The goal of this funding is to aid in the implementation of riparian buffers throughout the Upper Susquehanna Watershed. Forested buffers a minimum of 35’ wide are priorities for funding, however, all projects will be considered.  Funding for this program is provided by NFWF.

Find the Application .pdf linked here:

USC Buffer Program Application for Funding 2017

Starting at the Stream: Interagency Training for Water Quality

Save the Date

WHEN: March 2, 2016, from 9 am-3:30 pm

WHERE: Port Watson Mini-Conference Center
131 Port Watson St.
Cortland, NY 13077

This full-day educational workshop focusing on Riparian Forest Buffers (RFBs) is for technicians and managers and will provide:

  • An understanding of the different roles agency staff can take to get RFBs implemented;
  • Information as to the importance and effectiveness of RFBs (sales-pitch information);
  • Strategies and materials on how to leverage funds through RFB implementation; and
  • Educational information on current RFB implementation programs and incentives.

Speakers presenting include the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and the Department of Environmental Conservation.  Also, a peer panel of RFB implementers from throughout the Upper Susquehanna Watershed and landowner perspectives of buffers will be incorporated into the workshop.

Lunch will be provided.  An agenda is anticipated to be distributed in late January. Event inquiries may be directed to Lydia Brinkley at

Please feel free to share the .pdf of this announcement linked here – Save the Date

Save the Date for CREP Land Eligibility Walking Tour

August 27th, 2015 from 10am-2:30pm Rain or Shine

Schuyler County, NY

The conservation and preservation of water resources are important to us all, so come and learn about the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program’s (CREP) land eligibility requirements through an in-the-field lesson with conversation.  This event is offered to all district and agency employees to promote consistent awareness and uniform implementation of CREP.

Specific meeting location and details will be distributed next week (8/17).  Lunch will be provided.

REGISTER NOW for the upcoming Emergency Stream Intervention Training in Tompkins County

The Tompkins County Soil & Water Conservation District and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition will be conducting a three-day training session for Post Flood Emergency Stream Intervention. This protocol and training were originally developed for municipal equipment operators and contractors to provide environmentally-friendly, post-flood stream response for compromised channel capacity due to deposition, in-channel debris issues and corrective measures for stream avulsions. The program was designed for immediate post-flood corrective action or triage by local municipalities, working with the stream’s natural tendencies while protecting aquatic habitat. For additional info on this training initiative and for a copy of the training manual, please go to This program is not a long-term  restoration/ remediation program, nor a flood mitigation program.


  • Learning where to and where not to work
  • Determining when and where to relocate stream channels
  • Learning how to prioritize stream work
  • Identification/duplication of stable stream reaches
  • Recognizing channels with reduced flow capacity
  • Use of USGS New York StreamStats Web Tool to calculate watershed areas
  • Proper stream channel sizing using locally and regionally- developed Hydraulic Relationship Curves
  • Determining proper stream profile and geometric pattern
  • Reconnecting to the floodplain
  • Work methods and dewatering techniques


Participants MUST attend all three sessions to receive credit for attendance 3 Sessions,on non-consecutive, days include:

DAY ONE – “Before Construction”, Classroom training followed by an “in the field” site assessment and project layout. Lunch provided. Tuesday August 18, from 9:00 to 5:00, Newfield Town Hall 166 Main Street Newfield, NY 14867

DAY TWO – “During Construction”, Participants must visit the construction site during construction. No classroom training. Meals/transportation on your own. Date and time TBD, at Trumbulls Cors Rd/ Main St, Newfield, NY 14867

DAY THREE – “After Construction”, Meet at Classroom, visit site, followed by classroom review, Q and A, quiz, and Certificate of Training.  Six hours.  Lunch provided. Date and time TBD, Newfield, NY 14867

View the training flyer for more information on the training and on how to register.

Visit the USC Stream Team Page for more information

Visit the USC Stream Team Page for more information

Buffers Anyone?

By Troy Bishopp

Owego, N.Y. – You may identify with a buffer as an antacid, a car polisher or cows eating hay before going on lush pasture, and you’d be right.  In rural America, buffers are also an integral part of protecting and preserving water quality on the land and at the streamside.  Jacques Cousteau said, “We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one”.

The Upper Susquehanna Coalition strives to create and enhance a “wall to wall” buffer

Lydia Brinkley surveys a 4 year old USC riparian buffer in the Otselic River Watershed

Lydia Brinkley surveys a 4 year old USC riparian buffer in the Otselic River Watershed

program that respects the water/life cycle using an integrative, multiple barrier approach with its agriculture team, stream team and award-winning wetland team.  To bolster efforts to improve water quality and natural resources and work with landowners and communities in the Upper Susquehanna River Basin, the 19 Soil and Water Conservation Districts of the USC are pleased to introduce Lydia Brinkley as their new Buffer Coordinator.

Ms. Brinkley and the USC have partnered with The U.S Forest Service and The Natural Resources Conservation Service in a Joint Chiefs Landscape

Lydia points out Caddisfly cases from under rocks in a stream which are an indicator of good water quality.

Lydia points out Caddisfly cases from under rocks in a stream which are an indicator of good water quality.

Restoration Initiative to improve the health and resiliency of large scale landscapes and priority forested watersheds.  The goal is to add riparian forested buffer corridors and seek innovative ways to implement practical conservation measures on the ground.

Lydia holds a Master of Science degree in Forest and Natural Resources Management from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry where she performed research in the Skaneateles Lake Watershed, as well as on the aquatic insect composition of watershed streams dominated by agriculture and forest.  Lydia has experience as an environmental consultant, teaching college level science courses, and developing and delivering educational and conservation management strategies to landowners and communities.

She is looking forward to engaging with farmers and Upper Susquehanna River stakeholders, promoting common sense practices that are economically feasible, putting projects on the ground and playing a role in the enhancement of water quality ,soil health, riparian habitat and some good fishing spots.

Wendy Walsh, USC Watershed Coordinator and Tioga County SWCD District Manager said, “We appreciate Lydia’s passion and boots in the stream attitude to create more practical, riparian buffer acres that will protect our watershed for future generations.  She is an asset to our rural community”.

If you have a potential riparian buffer site or have an area on your farm where you need some technical help and site development help, contact Lydia Brinkley at or (315) 525-5872 and visit for more water quality initiatives.

This article originally featured in County Folks Eastern Edition

Steuben County Farmer Sets Sight on Year Round Grazing

By Troy Bishopp

Lindley, NY- Is year-round grazing possible in theSteuben County Twilight Pasture Walk at Burns Farm rugged hill country of Steuben County?

John Burns thinks so and is putting a lot of planning and effort to do so. John along with wife, Anne, and their children get this optimism from using a technique known as mob grazing.  “We see it as a way to be truly profitable and environmentally friendly at the same time”, said Burns.

This method of grazing that mimics the high animal densities and movement of vast herds who used to roam the prairies was the focus of a twilight pasture walk by The Tri-County Graziers Group.  A large contingent of farmers from around New York and Pennsylvania came to learn what it takes to implement a multi-species grazing regime on marginal soils.   In introducing the Burn’s family, Schuyler County Cornell Cooperative Extension Specialist, Brett Chedzoy said, “I’ve always been impressed by John’s tenacity to try new things and figure out how to make it fit on the landscape”.

The operation centers around exclusively leasing 180 acres of pasture and hay-land from his dad and some neighboring fields.   This is home to 30 cow-calf pairs, an equal amount of grass-finished steers, a flock of 120 Katahdin ewes and lambs, pastured poultry, hogs and vegetables that are sold locally and to the New Holland PA Livestock Auction.  “We actually downsized the cow herd briefly and added more sheep because they are way more efficient in producing a sellable product quicker for our markets.  Now we’re putting a lot of emphasis at rebuilding our cattle genetics from the Wye Angus bloodline that is an efficient, predictable gene pool which we purchased from Black Queen Angus farm, Angus Glen farm and Diamond D Ranch”, said Burns.

Steuben County Twilight Pasture Walk at Burns Farm

Mob grazing at its best

“The key to our goal of year-round grazing is to figure out the balance of grazing land to animal numbers and needs, said John.  To many, it looks like we have a lot of wasted forage out there but we need this standing feed as our winter and early spring forage.  We’ve found that by employing mob grazing, it gives us the potential to get through a season with limited hay feeding”.

John showed the group what he meant by the term, “mob”, when all the cattle and sheep bunched up in a “flerd” (Sheep and cattle grazing together).  Farmers saw first-hand how a 1.6 acre paddock was divided up into eight daily, .2 acre subdivisions with what John figured was 425,000 lbs./bodyweight/move.  “The idea is to give them fresh feed often which accentuates animal performance and tramples grass on the ground to armor the soil and feed the microbes”, said John.

He then brought the group to various paddocks so everyone could judge future grazeable forage based on grazing impact and recovery periods.  One could see the effect on growth from one, two and multiple paddock shifts within a field.  He then moved the flerd Steuben County Twilight Pasture Walk at Burns Farm_Page_8into the last slice of tall grass so fellow farmers could see the herd dynamic and grazing habits of 200 animals competing for grasses, legumes and forbs.

As the light faded, John shared his two ingredients for improvement.  He did a “do over” on his perimeter fencing system so it would allow for maximum flexibility within a field so he could easily subdivide with portable fencing and adjust for animal numbers and recovery times.  “It needed to be simpler and now with a central laneway and portable water it has reduced labor and brought us soil improvements” said Burns.

He touted mob grazing as the tool with the biggest impact.  He complimented South African Rancher, Ian Mitchell-Innes and Albany County’s Winter Green-up Grass Conference for helping to focus on grazing for more energy by allowing the animals the luxury of only grazing the top third of the plants and trampling the rest.  “Mob grazing saves us on hay feeding, eliminates the summer slump, and improves animal performance and soil fertility.  I especially appreciate the explosion of grassland birds and wildlife that debug our pastures.  When we focus on grazing management whereby the animals harvest the most energy, everyone blooms as a result”, emphasized John.

Brett Chedzoy added, “The power of livestock to improve land is very evident at this farm”.  “This pasture walk showed me mob grazing is a viable way to build soil and confirms how to incorporate this method on my farm”, said Lori Thomas from Winding Road farm in Woodhull, NY.  Phil Race from Valley View Devons in Nunda, NY echoed the tips he gained.  “I liked the way he had his water system set up and how he was moving animals without a back-fence.  I thought you always had to move the water with the animals.  It was well worth the 1 ½ hour trip”.

The Tri-County Graziers group is a grassroots network of farmers seeking to promote progressive pasture-based livestock production which is supported by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Steuben and Schuyler Counties, and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition.  For more information about upcoming events, please contact Kerri Bartlett of Steuben CCE by email: or at 607-664-2300.

This article was originally published by