News Flash


Posted on: November 13, 2023


newsflash 225 x 225 (4)



There will be Emergency Forage Assistance Sign-ups at the Dade County Admin Building 11/21/23 & 11/28/23 from 10-4. For appointments please contact the FSA office at 706-638-1558 ext. 2 or Stephen Bontekoe at 423-421-2543.


The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses for covered livestock and who are also producers of grazed forage crop acreage of native and improved pastureland with permanent vegetative cover or acreage planted specifically for grazing. Grazing losses must occur on land physically located in a county experiencing a qualifying drought during the normal grazing period for the county.

LFP also provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have covered livestock and who are also producers of grazed forage crop acreage on rangeland managed by a federal agency if the eligible livestock producer is prohibited by the federal agency from grazing the normal permitted livestock on the manage rangeland due to a qualifying fire.

The qualifying drought and qualifying grazing losses, and/or notification of prohibition to graze Federal land due to fire, must have occurred in the grazing period and crop year. For grazing losses on rangeland managed by a federal agency, an eligible livestock producer may elect to receive assistance for losses due to drought conditions or fire conditions, if applicable, but not both.

LFP is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

A map of eligible counties for LFP drought can be found at - map of eligible counties 

to learn more please check out this PDF - Live Stock Forage Program Info Sheet


Lookout Creek Watershed Septic Repair Cost Share Program The Environmental Protection Division (EPD) in Georgia has identified 14 miles of stream segments within the Lookout Creek Watershed as being impaired by fecal coliform bacteria.

Lookout Creek Watershed Septic Repair Cost Share Program
Limestone Valley RC&D Council   Watershed Project Mgr.: Matt Heath
Email: Phone: 706-514-6366


Lookout Watershed Map

Lookout Creek Watershed Septic Repair Cost Share Program The Environmental Protection Division (EPD) in Georgia has identified 14 miles of stream segments within the Lookout Creek Watershed as being impaired by fecal coliform bacteria. This has resulted in the Limestone Valley RC&D acquiring funding* to address impairments by offering a cost share program which will assist with failing and/or poorly managed septic systems in the watershed. Grant allocates funds for: repair and/or replacement of failing septic systems, installation of lids and risers, and decommissioning of abandoned wells. Grant funding will be available from August 2021 through March 2024.

 * This project was financed in part through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Provisions of Section 319(h) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended. 

How do I know if I am eligible to participate?
 Anyone located anywhere within the Lookout Creek watershed is eligible for participation. 

Is participation voluntary?  
 Yes, participation is strictly voluntary. This program is being offered as a service to residents in the Lookout Creek Watershed.

What amount of cost share will I receive?
 Participants installing non-agricultural (septic) practices will receive 40% cost share.

What practices can I install?
 Eligible practices include: Repair or replacement of existing, residential septic systems, and their necessary components. Experimental and alternative waste systems will also be eligible practices in the program. Assistance is also available to decommission abandoned or unused wells. For questions about installing a specific practice please contact the project manager.

If I choose to participate, what are my responsibilities?
 Participants must be willing to be contacted by up to three (3) septic contractors from our approved list for the purpose of making a bid to execute repairs. All installations must comply with county codes, and practices must meet county environmental health department approval. 

What is the process if I choose to participate?

  •    Obtain permit from county environmental health office
  •    We recommend the landowner get three (3) septic contractor estimates. 
  •    Landowner will choose their preferred contractor and send estimate to the project manager by email, or text in the form of a picture or scanned estimate.
  •    County health department will send permit and repair plan to project manager. 
  •    Project manager will send an agreement to the landowner based on the estimate.
  •    Once landowner signs the agreement work can begin. 
  •    Septic work is performed.
  •    Landowner notifies project manager that project has been completed. 
  •    Final inspection by county environmental health department. 
  •    Upon health department approval, payment will be made to septic contractor, or landowner. 

For questions please contact:

Director & Soil Conservationist
 Stephen Bontekoe
 phone – 423-521-2221

Other Information: 

Lookout creek is designated as a water supply creek and fishing creek by the Georgia EPD. The question has been asked if it is safe to swim in. Ultimately swimming in any water is a personal choice. Lookout creek has been listed by EPD for elevated levels of Fecal Coliform (a measure of bacteria) for many years. THe 319 grant funding that is currently available is to address those fecal levels and improve our community. Parties interested in researching this in greater detail can find information on EPD's website at

 May - Oct. 30-day geometric mean | 200 count/100 mL of fecal coliform Non-human, lakes/reservoirs | 300 counts/100 mL fecal coliform Non-human, rivers/streams |500 counts/100 mL fecal coliform X X

 Nov. - April 30-day geometric mean | 1000 counts/100 mL of fecal coliform Max | 4000 counts/100 mL of fecal coliform  

 I would note the listing of Lookout Creek dates back to 2004 or prior. Here is a snip of the data available on EPDs website noting the TMDL (total maximum daily load) I personally do not believe there is any cause for alarm. There is reason to take action and that is to improve our community water but this is not a NEW issue or a change from the past 20 year status.

lookout creek map 2


Project Manager is Will Bontekoe. 
Telephone: 423-421-0555

 Limestone Valley, a local non profit that serves NW GA, is now working with Walker and Dade County as well as the local Health Departments to support property owners with septic repairs. Eligible properties must be within the Chattanooga Creek watershed  within Georgia. This area includes portions of Lookout Mountain from Covenant College South to the Miller Farm area in Dade County and extends East into Walker County.  The purpose of the project is to financially help property owners repair failing septic systems. Failing septic systems can contribute to bacteria and pollution within streams and creeks. Repairing septic problems reduces these pollution risks and improves local waterways. The Septic repair program can assist property owners with up to 40% of the cost of a repair. All work is permitted and inspected by the local health department and upon completion of the repair Limestone Valley reimburses the property owner up to 40%. Additional work within the project will address urban runoff by installing a rain garden to capture and slow water. The project will also work on agricultural lands to reduce runoff issues related to agriculture. This project is  financed in part through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Provisions of Section 319(h) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended. Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources, State of Georgia. 

Map of eligible area:

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