Second Creek Socioeconomic Survey

Background

Second Creek in southeastern West Virginia is a major tributary of the Greenbrier River. Second Creek has been listed as impaired since 2008 due to high concentrations of fecal coliform bacteria. West Virginia Conservation Agency (WVCA) conducted bacteria source tracking in the watershed and determined that bacteria loads may come in equal thirds from the different livestock management systems used in the county (i.e., grazing, confined livestock, and cropland where manure may be spread). The Second Creek Watershed Based Plan predicted​ that significant bacteria loads could be reduced from grazing systems by restricting livestock from streams, developing alternative water sources, and implementing practices to reduce stormwater from pastureland.

Since 2009, WVCA and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff have worked with more than 120 farmers to install practices that reduce runoff of sediment, nutrients, and bacteria from livestock operations, achieving significant load reductions for fecal coliform and other pollutants. Practices included fencing to restrict stream access, armored stream crossings for livestock, heavy use area protection pads, vegetated riparian buffers, nutrient management plans, and prescribed grazing strategies.

See Also

Map showing Location of Second Creek in the Greenbrier River Watershed, West Virginia
Map showing Location of Second Creek in the Greenbrier River Watershed, West Virginia

Survey Administration

In late 2021, local, state, and federal project partners commissioned a survey of 122 farmers who had participated in conservation practice cost-share programs. Those programs included EPA’s §319 Program, USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), USDA’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), and WVCA’s Agricultural Enhancement Program (AgEP). The survey gauged farmers’ views on the environm​ental​, f​financial, and other results of installing conservation practices, and sought their suggestions on how to improve the distribution of limited cost-share funding for conservation practices. Specific goals of the survey included determining the following:

  • Overall economic impact for farmers within the watershed.

  • Economic impact to businesses throughout the watershed and surrounding areas.

  • Overall type and value of the environmental benefits achieved.

  • Socioeconomic benefits of nonpoint source pollution control programs, and if these should be factors in selecting priority areas for future funding.

  • How to improve agency outreach activities for promoting conservation programs

Results

The survey had a 43% return rate, which is excellent! The results provide important insight into increasing participation in conservation cost-share programs statewide. Important takeaways about farm production and water quality improvements included:

  • More than 80% noticed improvements on their land and operations linked to adopted conservation practices.

  • 80% said the conservation practices adopted by farmers are helping to improve water quality in the watershed.

  • 78% said conservation practices on their farm have helped to improve production and their financial bottom line.

  • Nearly 70% said the conservation practices on their farms have helped to reduce soil erosion and pollutant runoff.

  • More than half of respondents said they have noticed the stream is less muddy and clears up faster after heavy rain.


Learn More

To learn more read the attached documents, and contact the Greenbrier Valley Conservation District. Note: A peer reviewed paper detailing the Second Creek socio economic survey is expected in the near future.

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