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American Farmland Trust Names Larry Werries, Former Director Illinois Department of Agriculture, Coordinator For Innovative Lake Mauvaise Terre Watershed Farmer Outreach Project In Jacksonville, Morgan County

JACKSONVILLE, Ill., April 9, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- American Farmland Trust today announced Larry Werries, former Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, will be the Watershed Coordinator for a new outreach program to farmers designed to reduce sediments and nutrient runoff in the Lake Mauvaise Terre Watershed in Jacksonville, Morgan County, Illinois.

"The Lake Mauvaise Terre Watershed is considered an impaired watershed under the federal Clean Water Act and Lake Mauvaise Terre, which serves as a backup water supply for the City of Jacksonville, has had its capacity significantly reduced by sediment from the watershed," said Michael Baise, Midwest Director, AFT.  "The City is undertaking a dredging project to remove sediment from the reservoir, however, preventative measures need to be taken to reduce sediment going into the lake and protect the City's investment.

"The new farmer outreach program in the Lake Mauvaise Terre Watershed is designed to increase farmer and landowner awareness of farm conservation practices and how they can reduce nutrient and sediment to the lake," said Baise.  "We want to work with landowners to get more practices installed to improve water quality and prevent the kind of problem Jacksonville is dealing with now.

"We are very pleased Larry Werries has agreed to serve as Watershed Coordinator for the project," said Baise.  "Larry's unique background on the issues and his personal knowledge of the people and organizations in the watershed make him the ideal person for this position."

Werries served as Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture from 1981 to 1989 where he was responsible for administering all of the agency's programs from animal health, product marketing, to land and water resource protection.

As Director, he was instrumental in leading a statewide initiative to promote no-till and other conservation practices that reduced soil losses from farms significantly across Illinois.  He also helped increase financial support for county soil and water conservation districts to better help farmers in their conservation efforts.

Werries provided national leadership on agriculture issues serving as President of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture from 1984 to 1986 and then went to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to serve as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs.

"I'm excited about this opportunity to help farmers in the Lake Mauvaise Terre Watershed implement common-sense practices that protect their biggest resource-- the soil," said Werries.  "As a retired farmer myself in the Jacksonville area, I know the challenges today's farmers face and look forward to working with my neighbors to achieve our shared goals."

"I want every one of the farm owners and operators in the watershed to know about the benefits of conservation practices," said Werries.

The Lake Mauvaise Terre Watershed outreach program will organize and facilitate a local watershed advisory committee to identify areas of the watershed that would benefit most from conservation practices.

Primarily through a combination of individual farmer contacts, farm practice demonstrations and public meetings, the program will help farmers and landowners identify the right practices and available financial assistance they need to implement farm conservation projects.

The project is also utilizing the services of Northwater Consulting of Springfield in making site evaluations for best management practices recommendations and calculation of sediment and nutrient load reductions.

The project will also coordinate with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and other local and state organizations on education, outreach and implementation initiatives.

Werries can be contacted by calling 217-370-2925 or sending email to: [email protected].

Funding for this project was provided by a grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency through a Section 319 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and grants from the McKnight Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.

American Farmland Trust is the nation's leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.

AFT will host the Farmland, Food and Livable Communities national conference in Lexington, Kentucky on October 20-22.  Visit www.farmland.org for more information.

For more information on the policies and programs of American Farmland Trust, visit www.farmland.org, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmericanFarmland or Twitter www.twitter.com/farmland.

Michael Baise, Midwest Director, American Farmland Trust
Phone: 317-508-0756
Email: [email protected]

SOURCE American Farmland Trust

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