Fayette County Conservation District Highlights Summer 2023 Initiatives

LEXINGTON, KY — As summer 2023 unfolds, the Fayette County Conservation District (FCCD) has released its seasonal newsletter, emphasizing the importance of conservation and the various programs and initiatives they’ve undertaken.

Conservation and Education Grants

The FCCD has always been at the forefront of promoting educational projects centered on conservation. This year, they witnessed a record number of applicants for their Conservation and Education Grants. The grants, which can go up to $2,000, are awarded based on a rubric system. This year, special consideration was given to first-time applicants and projects in underserved areas. Some of the 2023 awardees include Picadome Elementary School for their Outdoor Classroom Space and Beaumont Presbyterian Church for The Croft Community Garden. Those interested in applying next year can find more information on the FCCD website.

FCCD’s 2023 Conservation and Education Grant awardees (FCCD)

Backyard Conservation Program

The 2023 Backyard Conservation Program saw an overwhelming response, with applications reaching capacity within the first two weeks. The program aims to highlight the conservation projects undertaken by the Fayette County community. The newsletter promises more details and reflections on participants’ accomplishments in the upcoming Fall issue.

Photos from 2023 Backyard Conservation Grant awardees. (FCCD)

Free Soil Testing for Fayette County Residents

In a proactive move to assist local residents in understanding their soil’s pH and nutrient needs, the FCCD is offering free soil testing. Fayette County residents can avail themselves of Conservation District vouchers that cover the entire cost for up to 25 soil samples. With fall being the optimal time to determine nutrient needs, residents are encouraged to act quickly. Vouchers are available online and at the UKY Extension Office. Interested individuals can call ahead at 859-257-5582 and deliver their samples directly to the UKY Extension Office, located at 1140 Harry Sykes Way, Lexington, KY. This initiative underscores the FCCD’s commitment to empowering the community with the knowledge and resources needed for sustainable land management.

Farm Programs

The FCCD offers a plethora of programs for farming residents of Fayette County. These include the Heavy Use Area program, which provides a 50% reimbursement up to $1,000 for reinforcing high traffic areas on farms, and the Kentucky State Cost Share Program, which addresses environmental issues on privately-owned land. Additionally, the Dead Animal Removal initiative ensures proper disposal of animal carcasses to prevent disease and contamination. A new Cover Crop Program is also set to launch this fall.

Education Initiatives

The FCCD sponsored a group of high school students to compete in the state Envirothon competition this summer. The competition focuses on various environmental topics, and this year’s FCCD team secured the 5th position. Additionally, the FCCD is offering a seasonal scholarship for high school seniors, with the essay topic centered on Fayette County conservation projects. More information on FCCD’s educational initiatives is available here.

Lexington’s First Annual Pollinator Week

Bees on common milkweed at a Wild Ones maintained pollinator garden during Lexington Pollinator Week. (The Lexington Times)

In a bid to raise awareness about pollinators and their habitats, Lexington celebrated its First Annual Pollinator Week. The event saw participation from various local organizations and was recognized by both Governor Beshear and Lexington Mayor Gorton. The kickoff event at McConnell Springs was a highlight, featuring an insect petting zoo by the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology and insights on creating effective pollinator gardens.

Monarch Butterflies: A Pollinator Spotlight

A butterfly on a coneflower in a 2023 Backyard Conservation Program rain garden. (FCCD)

The newsletter emphasizes the importance of the Monarch Butterfly as an indicator of a healthy ecosystem. Due to factors like fragmentation, development, and herbicide use, the milkweed plant populations, which the Monarch Butterfly relies on, have seen a decline. The FCCD encourages the creation of Monarch-specific habitats to ensure the butterfly species has a consistent source for reproduction.

The FCCD continues to be a beacon for conservation efforts in Fayette County, working diligently to ensure a sustainable and environmentally-friendly future.

For more details on the initiatives and programs mentioned, visit the FCCD website at www.kyfccd.com.

Top photo: Photos from 2023 Backyard Conservation Grant awardees. (FCCD)