Programs and Services



Our number one priority in working with the agricultural community is to conserve our natural resources and to keep our waters clean. We utilize a number of tools to accomplish this goal. Since 2006 we have obtained over $5 million in state and federal funding on behalf of north country farmers. These funds are used in Jefferson County to implement conservation practices that keep our farms environmentally sound.

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Agricultural Environmental Management

AEM is a voluntary program that helps farmer make cost-effective decisions to improve efficiency and increase productivity while protecting and conserving our natural resources. The District helps ag producers develop comprehensive farm plans. A Tier 1 questionnaire is the first step. To get started, Click here.  Send your completed Tier 1 to the District office: 25451 State Route 12, Watertown, NY 13601.


Agricultural Non Point Source Grant Program

The District works with landowners to prepare grant proposals. If awarded, NYS Ag and Markets funds the project on a cost-share basis. All projects are geared toward protecting Jefferson County’s natural resources. Past projects include:

  • Silage leachate control
  • Access road
  • Waste storage
  • Cover crops
  • Barnyard runoff management

Soil Group Worksheets

If your town assessor recommends a soil group worksheet, contact our office. Once completed, the worksheet will be used in preparation of your agricultural assessment. Check with your local assessor to find out the deadline for the application (usually in the spring).

  • Reduce taxes
  • One-time preparation fee per parcel*

*unless there is a change in your parcel

Conservation Farm of the Year

Farms are recognized by the District for their commitment to environmental stewardship. A dinner is held in their honor to highlight their accomplishments. The chosen farms have made a special effort to protect natural resources in and around their community. Winners since 1964




Storm Water – Carbon Awareness – Reforestation – Education for Students

SW CARES introduces 4th grade students to new information about storm water, carbon cycle, importance of trees, and review science terminology.

Students take a guided tour on school grounds to learn about drainage and discover the school’s outfalls.  They also learned how to plant a tree.   Students receive free tree seedlings to plant along with educational materials.

SW CARES began in 2022 at Mannsville Elementary and expanded in 2023 to include Watertown and Carthage elementary schools.


Forest Management

Forest Management

The District manages 5500 of the County forestlands. Management includes following short-term and long-term plans for: site preparation, weeding and/or timber stand improvement practices, harvesting timber, maintaining wildlife management, tree planting, natural regeneration, enhancing aesthetics, recreational use, etc. All efforts are made with conservation in mind and maintaining water quality protection.

Click here to learn more

Managing 5500 acres of County forest:

  • Provide routine maintenance
  • Lot signage
  • Timber marking/sales management
  • Property lines
  • Monitor usage

 Why is this important?

  • Protect open space (undeveloped land)
  • Promote wildlife
  • Protect watersheds
  • Provide recreational areas
  • Ensure a local supply of timber

Urban Forestry

EACH tree is analyzed:

  • Identify and inventory species
  • Size, health, and height are recorded
  • Pruning or removal recommendations are made
  • Link to GIS and prepare maps
  • Note deformities and potential obstructions:   overhead wires, buildings, manholes, waterlines, etc.

How is this helpful?

  • Maintain safety
  • Restore storm damaged trees
  • Establish a maintenance schedule
  • Maintain beauty in the community
  • Ensures continuity throughout the area

Forestry is for towns and villages too!



Stormwater is water from rain or melting snow that doesn’t soak into the ground but runs off into waterways. As it flows, it picks up a variety of materials on its way including soil, animal waste, salt, pesticides, fertilizers, oil and grease, debris and other potential pollutants. We provide services to municipalities and landowners to protect our natural resources by implementing stormwater management practices.

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OLD method:  Several passes of spreading seed, fertilizer, and mulch…labor intensive!

NEW method: 1 solution, 1 pass, 1 call is MUCH more effective (315) 782-2749

One pass solution to establish erosion control.  Provides a thicker, uniform area. Cost 50-80% LESS than sod! Faster germination for a healthier, greener area.  Covers roadsides, slopes, and retains water 10 times better with fewer bare spots.  It is safe and non-toxic. Hydroseeding is available to municipalities and landowners implementing conservation practices.

4-Hour Erosion & Sediment Control Training

Under the NYS DEC’s Stormwater Permit GP-0-10-001, all developers, contractors and subcontractors must identify at least one trained contractor from their company that will be responsible for implementation of the SWPPP, and have at least one trained contractor on site on a daily basis when soil disturbance activities are being performed. Also, developers must have a qualified inspector conduct regular site inspections in accordance with GP-0-10-001. *Qualified inspectors and trained contractors must have 4 hours of training in the principles and practices of erosion and sediment control endorsed by NYS DEC, SWCD, or CPESC, Inc. Training is good for three (3) years. Training is not required for CPESC, LA, and PE certified persons. Upon completion of the course, each participant will receive a NYS DEC Stormwater Training Number on a certificate and wallet card good for 3 years. This training does not allow contractors to conduct their own Qualified Weekly Inspections.

The District offers the training each spring.  Training certificates are valid for three (3) years.

Recreational Trails

Recreational Trails

The District maintains and restores multi-use recreational trails throughout the County’s forestlands. Proper construction of trails is crucial for forest management and protecting our natural resources. Recreation is not the only goal. We must include proper drainage, minimize erosion, provide access for timber harvests, consider wildlife habitat, all while maintaining the natural beauty of the forest.


Click here to learn more

Why improve trails?

  • Control soil erosion
  • Deter misuse of forest resources
  • Protect Jefferson County’s natural resources
  • Minimize destruction from motorized recreation
  • Create an enjoyable, safe trail experience
  • Promote economic development and tourism

We restore and maintain existing trails on County forest property throughout all four seasons.

We develop key trail links to business centers.

Please watch the short video clip below to learn more.

There are approximately 300 miles of roads open to ATVs in Jefferson County. Additionally there are approximately 36 miles of trails on Jefferson County reforestation lands open to ATVs.

We are continually maintaining, restoring, and building new multi-use trails on County reforestation lands.

Please follow all regulations when using trails on Jefferson County Forest.

Water Quality

Water Quality

256 miles of shoreline on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River; 1800 miles of rivers and streams; over 150 inland ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and rivers; high quality groundwater supplies in the eastern and southern portions of the County; and over 40,000 acres of wetlands, swamps, and marshes!


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What’s Coliform?

Found in the excrements of warm-blooded animals and are accompanied by pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria. There is a simple test for coliform and this test is used as an indicator for water quality. If coliform tests negative, it is considered to indicate safe drinking water, free of waterborne bacteria and pathogens. Water that tests positive for coliform bacteria will also be tested for E.coli, a member of the coliform family that is known to cause illness. The water in your well can change over the course of a year, so it is a good idea to test your well annually to make certain it is safe to drink.

Water Quality Coordinating Committee

A Water Quality Coordinating Committee exists to share the common interest of keeping our waters clean. The Committee meets quarterly at our office.

Their mission is to assist and coordinate organizations and agencies to protect and improve the quality of both surface and groundwater for their intended uses, with emphasis on water-related issues, primarily the reduction of non-point source pollution.

Upcoming events:

no event

  • Fri

    Washington Park timber sale - bids due

    2:30 pm
  • Tue

    Hiring Committee

    5:30 pm
  • Mon

    Board Meeting

    5:30 pm