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Protecting Water Quality in Rural Landscapes: A Comprehensive Community Nonpoint Source Education Program.

Healthy Landscapes is a URI Cooperative Extension Education Program that was piloted in the Town of North Kingstown, RI beginning September 2002. The goals of the program are to inform residents about the importance of their water resources and identify steps they can take to have attractive home landscapes while protecting these resources.

Gardening is the number one hobby nation-wide. Residents spend vast amounts of time and money on yard and garden care. On average, residential landscapes use ten times the amount of fertilizers and pesticides on a per acre basis than agricultural lands. In addition, outdoor water use results in a 40% - 50% increase in residential water consumption during spring and summer months.

Many rural homeowners also have pets, horses and other livestock. If improperly handled, animal waste from pets, livestock, and other “resident wildlife” are potential sources of pathogens and nutrients that can impact water quality.

These rural parcels are also subject to erosion, sedimentation, loss of pond and stream buffers, and private well contamination when animal access and paddock areas are within or near to these areas. Furthermore, small acreage farms usually do not qualify for traditional agricultural and forestry programs and have different land use goals from that of larger livestock operations. Visit our small acreage livestock education program.

Our Program
The Healthy Landscapes Program focuses on "smart" landscaping techniques that also enhance and protect water quality. Proper plant selection, proper watering methods, responsible fertilizer use, integrated pest management techniques, animal waste management, stormwater runoff control, and the use of naturalized landscapes are all environmentally sound practices that result in productive and attractive home landscapes that protect water quality.

The Program, which began in September 2002, contained several education and outreach components including:

View our:

Final report Cultivating Change: engaging community participation in water quality protection

In September 2006, the University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension Home*A*Syst and 4-H Programs and the URI Department of Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science received a three year Extension Education grant to create an education program for small acreage livestock owners focusing on pollution prevention best management practices (BMPs). Visit our small acreage livestock education program for more information.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Integrated Water Quality Program, under Agreement No. 2002-51130-01939.