Presenter Information

Kevin Farmer

Location

UMass Amherst

Event Website

http://fishpassage.ecs.umass.edu/Conference2012/

Start Date

6-6-2012 11:30 AM

End Date

6-6-2012 12:00 PM

Description

Over the past three (3) years, the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service has work with local partners to successfully design and/or implement fish passage projects throughout Rhode Island. The projects have ranged from denil ladders, nature like fish ways, partial dam removals, and full dam removals. Many of these projects were accomplished by working with our conservation partners, state and local governments, and other federal agencies. These projects have presented various challenges and provided several learning opportunities for us here at the USDA-NRCS. Funding Constraints: Many of the projects that the USDA-NRCS worked on were funded under the NRCS Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). The purpose of the WHIP is to enable eligible participants to develop habitat for upland wildlife, wetland wildlife, threatened and endangered species, fish, and other types of wildlife. Prior to the 2008 farm bill, there were fewer constraints for NRCS to consider when providing assistance to eligible participants. Two major constraints of this program since the 2008 farm bill include mandatory funding levels and program eligibility requirements. As for funding, NRCS is limited to providing no more than $50,000 per year in individual payments made to a program participant for conservation practices implemented under the WHIP program. Previously, this annual payment limitation did not exist. Prior to the 2008 farm bill, WHIP did not require that eligible land be in agricultural production. However, now WHIP is purposed for developing wildlife habitat on private agricultural and forest lands. As well, NRCS could work with local municipalities and units of government prior to the 2008 farm bill. These changes have prevented our past practice of working with state and local governments to design and implement fish passage on non-agricultural lands. With these new constraints, NRCS will have to change the focus of our fish passage efforts and consider more cost effective means of achieving fish passage. No doubt it will be near impossible to design and install a large denil fish ladder with these recent WHIP funding constraints. However, there are several opportunities for NRCS to continue working with eligible landowners to install smaller fish passage measures such as, fish screens, culverts, nature like fish ways and partial dam removals. We have also being to utilize the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to install some of these measures. Working with Non-Engineering partners: Many of the projects that we have designed and implemented have been done through partnership efforts with local conservation organizations. Most of the local conservation organizations that we have worked with are limited in staff and simply do not have any engineering professionals on staff. This could appear to present a problem, but I believe that we have found ways to make up for the lack of engineering expertise while leveraging the strengths of these local organizations. For instance, many of these organizations have a passion to see the restoration of fish habitat for anadromous fish. They are very instrumental in organizing necessary entities to ensure that the projects are accomplished successfully. Many of these partners are vital to getting the community support and participation necessary to achieve fish passage. These partners are exceptional in helping to secure funding for shortfalls within the budget. They are able to meet the publicity needs to ensure that the community is well aware and receptive to the work that is going to occur. These local conservation partners are able to provide personnel who can assist with project coordination. As well, they have successfully managed agreements with NRCS to secure the technical expertise necessary to design and implement projects. We have learned that in order to meet the engineering needs for these projects, we have to work closely with our local conservation partners and our federal agencies. To meet the engineering needs, NRCS has done some design work in-house. For more complex designs, we have entered into contribution agreements where we provide Technical Assistance funding to aid the local organizations in securing A&E design services. As well, we have relied heavily on the technical expertise of engineers from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to provide guidance and technical assistance. Since these local conservation organizations do not have any engineering expertise on staff, NRCS still has to work closely with them throughout the project in order to provide oversight in the engineering services solicitation, design and construction administration of the projects. At times, it has been a challenge for NRCS to bring to preeminence the technical standards and specifications required by our agency. When a long anticipated project begins to come to fruition, excitement begins to overshadow protocol and many of the technical requirements tend to get suppressed by our non-engineering partners. As such, we often have to work harder and provide unanticipated technical guidance and oversight to ensure the adherence to technical standards, specifications and contract requirements. Nonetheless, we have learned that we can work successfully with non-engineering partners to achieve fish passage in Rhode Island. The USDA-NRCS is excited to engage in more opportunities to work with our local conservation partners in the design and implementation of fish passage in more Rhode Island watercourses.

Comments

As State Conservation Engineer, Kevin Farmer provides leadership in all phases of engineering programs for NRCS in the state of Rhode Island. He serves as advisor to the State Conservationist on all engineering phases of NRCS programs. He is responsible for establishing technical standards and procedures, and methods of operation for engineering work in the state of Rhode Island. Kevin began working with NRCS in 1995 working in the Marianna, AR field office. He has held numerous engineering positions with the USDA-NRCS in Alabama, Minnesota, California, Georgia, and Rhode Island. Prior to his current position, he served as the State Construction Engineer in Georgia. He is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a degree in Biological & Agricultural Systems Engineering.

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Jun 6th, 11:30 AM Jun 6th, 12:00 PM

Session A4 - Lessons learned from recent USDA-NRCS assisted fish passage projects in Rhode Island

UMass Amherst

Over the past three (3) years, the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service has work with local partners to successfully design and/or implement fish passage projects throughout Rhode Island. The projects have ranged from denil ladders, nature like fish ways, partial dam removals, and full dam removals. Many of these projects were accomplished by working with our conservation partners, state and local governments, and other federal agencies. These projects have presented various challenges and provided several learning opportunities for us here at the USDA-NRCS. Funding Constraints: Many of the projects that the USDA-NRCS worked on were funded under the NRCS Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). The purpose of the WHIP is to enable eligible participants to develop habitat for upland wildlife, wetland wildlife, threatened and endangered species, fish, and other types of wildlife. Prior to the 2008 farm bill, there were fewer constraints for NRCS to consider when providing assistance to eligible participants. Two major constraints of this program since the 2008 farm bill include mandatory funding levels and program eligibility requirements. As for funding, NRCS is limited to providing no more than $50,000 per year in individual payments made to a program participant for conservation practices implemented under the WHIP program. Previously, this annual payment limitation did not exist. Prior to the 2008 farm bill, WHIP did not require that eligible land be in agricultural production. However, now WHIP is purposed for developing wildlife habitat on private agricultural and forest lands. As well, NRCS could work with local municipalities and units of government prior to the 2008 farm bill. These changes have prevented our past practice of working with state and local governments to design and implement fish passage on non-agricultural lands. With these new constraints, NRCS will have to change the focus of our fish passage efforts and consider more cost effective means of achieving fish passage. No doubt it will be near impossible to design and install a large denil fish ladder with these recent WHIP funding constraints. However, there are several opportunities for NRCS to continue working with eligible landowners to install smaller fish passage measures such as, fish screens, culverts, nature like fish ways and partial dam removals. We have also being to utilize the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to install some of these measures. Working with Non-Engineering partners: Many of the projects that we have designed and implemented have been done through partnership efforts with local conservation organizations. Most of the local conservation organizations that we have worked with are limited in staff and simply do not have any engineering professionals on staff. This could appear to present a problem, but I believe that we have found ways to make up for the lack of engineering expertise while leveraging the strengths of these local organizations. For instance, many of these organizations have a passion to see the restoration of fish habitat for anadromous fish. They are very instrumental in organizing necessary entities to ensure that the projects are accomplished successfully. Many of these partners are vital to getting the community support and participation necessary to achieve fish passage. These partners are exceptional in helping to secure funding for shortfalls within the budget. They are able to meet the publicity needs to ensure that the community is well aware and receptive to the work that is going to occur. These local conservation partners are able to provide personnel who can assist with project coordination. As well, they have successfully managed agreements with NRCS to secure the technical expertise necessary to design and implement projects. We have learned that in order to meet the engineering needs for these projects, we have to work closely with our local conservation partners and our federal agencies. To meet the engineering needs, NRCS has done some design work in-house. For more complex designs, we have entered into contribution agreements where we provide Technical Assistance funding to aid the local organizations in securing A&E design services. As well, we have relied heavily on the technical expertise of engineers from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to provide guidance and technical assistance. Since these local conservation organizations do not have any engineering expertise on staff, NRCS still has to work closely with them throughout the project in order to provide oversight in the engineering services solicitation, design and construction administration of the projects. At times, it has been a challenge for NRCS to bring to preeminence the technical standards and specifications required by our agency. When a long anticipated project begins to come to fruition, excitement begins to overshadow protocol and many of the technical requirements tend to get suppressed by our non-engineering partners. As such, we often have to work harder and provide unanticipated technical guidance and oversight to ensure the adherence to technical standards, specifications and contract requirements. Nonetheless, we have learned that we can work successfully with non-engineering partners to achieve fish passage in Rhode Island. The USDA-NRCS is excited to engage in more opportunities to work with our local conservation partners in the design and implementation of fish passage in more Rhode Island watercourses.

http://scholarworks.umass.edu/fishpassage_conference/2012/June6/14