Thursday, September 19, 2013

NorCo Conservation Proposes 30% Hike For Soil Erosion Plans

Back in the roaring 20s, the federal government was encouraging everyone to move West into the Great Plains, after clearing out pesky Native Americans and the bison who thundered. The Homestead Act guaranteed just enough land to keep someone poor. All the grass was uprooted and crops were planted because wheat was at an all-time high. But when the economy and wheat prices collapsed, so did the soil. It was blown around and around by the steady winds that roar through the plains. The result was dusters, black blizzards, that blinded people and scarred lungs. It roared for ten years. It still continues, from time to time, today.

The Dust Bowl

This problem was caused by our greed and bad government policy. But our willingness to adapt and admit we were wrong, along with some rare government ingenuity, prevented those dusters from getting worse and actually turned things around in some areas of the Great Plains. Conservation Districts were established by FDR so that farmers could band together and attack the dark storms with new types of grass, crop rotation and differing approaches to agriculture.

These days, conservation districts are scattered throughout the country. Northampton County started its own in '61, to promote conservation and prevent soil erosion.

So if you plan to build on anything more than an acre, and you plan to move soil around, you better have an Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control Plan, which will be reviewed.

Yesterday, District manager Bruce Pysher proposed increasing plan review fees by 30%, to bring them in line with other counties.

A one-acre residential lot will cost $200. But a commercial or industrial lot will cost you $1,200.

Pysher has also suggested an expedited review process for those in a hurry, as long as they're under 100 acres. That will cost three times the usual fee.

Pysher's proposals were unanimously recommended by Council's Finance committee yesterday, and will be voted on by the full Council tonight.

Blogger's Note: To those of you interested in leaning more about The Dust Bowl, I highly recommend The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan, a history that reads like a novel.


Anonymous said...

I always wondered why sediment control plans or best practice do not apply to public roads. After a winter of salt and cindering, most municipalities clean their streets. However, it seems that PennDOT makes a less than complete attempt to adequately clean their ROW's. This is most evident along state highways through residential or retail areas where curbs exist.

How is it that this sediment is permitted to accumulate to the extent where we have vegetation growing along curb stops, medians and out of storm inlets along state highways?

Dandy said...

30% sounds quite high... any updates on how this has evolved?

steve said...

The agents of Soil erosion are the same as the agents of all types of erosion: water, wind, ice, or gravity. Running water is the leading cause of soil erosion, because water is abundant and has a lot of power. Wind is also a leading cause of soil erosion because wind can pick up soil and blow it far away.

Activities that remove vegetation, disturb the ground, or allow the ground to dry are activities that increase erosion.