WARREN COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District conducts plenty of work that involves the water quality at bodies like Lake George and Brant Lake. This summer, the office is helping with another effort, affecting an even bigger lake.

Farmers in Warren County – as well as Washington, Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties – are being sought to take part in the Lake Champlain Cover Crop Program. Farmers joining in are asked to do their part in reducing soil erosion and runoff, as well as leaching of phosphorus – all of which affect Lake Champlain. The program also equips farmers with ways to conserve soil, keep weeds away, and improve on the overall health of farming soil.

Farms that join the program are required to take part in the Agricultural Environmental Management Tier 3A Cover Crop Planning, Implementation and Evaluation process. AEM is described by Warren County as an incentive-based program that rewards the county’s agriculture industry for working to preserve and conserve the surrounding environment. Tier 3 of the system includes the development of conservation plans that tailor goals and plans to what farms need.

Conservation is a wide-reaching task for a water body like Lake Champlain. Dividing northern New York State and Vermont, the 490-mile water body also reaches into the Quebec province of Canada. The lake is a popular source of fishing, as well as a swimming and boating destination.

The DEC identifies rainwater and snowmelt runoff moving through parking lots and soil as a source of pollution that has built up within the lake. High levels of phosphorus, a common nutrient pollutant, can build up in a water body and create the ideal growing ground for a harmful algal bloom, which can be toxic to humans, pets and wildlife alike.

Warren County is offering farmers help in creating plans for specific issues including soil health, irrigation and pasture management; as well as resources for soil health testing. The program is free of charge, and information shared within it is kept confidential.

Farmers interested in taking part can contact their county soil and water conservation offices. Those include Clinton County, at (518) 561-4616, ext. 3; Essex County, at (518) 962-8225; Franklin County, at (518) 651-2097; Warren County, at (518) 623-3119; and Washington County, at (518) 692-9940, ext. 5.