For Immediate Release: March 31, 2020

WAC and partner organizations have been communicating and coordinating decisions to employ proactive measures together as it relates to our conservation work with a primary focus on the safety of essential and non-essential staff. Ensuring social distancing and limiting interaction with the public for staff in the field is very challenging and in some cases too risky on complex and major construction projects in order to ensure proper oversight. 

New guidance brought forth by the Governor provides increased clarity for essential and non-essential staff as it relates to construction projects. Consistent with partner organizations and based on Executive Order COVID-19 EO 202.6 related to construction projects the following shall apply to all agriculture construction projects with the Watershed Agricultural Council.

9. Construction

·        All non-essential construction must shut down except emergency construction, (e.g. a project necessary to protect health and safety of the occupants, or to continue a project if it would be unsafe to allow to remain undone until it is safe to shut the site).

·        Essential construction may continue and includes roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters. At every site, if essential or emergency non-essential construction, this includes maintaining social distance, including for purposes of elevators/meals/entry and exit. Sites that cannot maintain distance and safety best practices must close and enforcement will be provided by the state in coordination with the city/local governments. This will include fines of up to $10,000 per violation.

·        For purposes of this section construction work does not include a single worker, who is the sole employee/worker on a job site. 

As a result, until further notice, the Watershed Agricultural Council will not commence implementation on any contracted agricultural construction projects in the month of April. WAC will reevaluate the start of contracted and new construction projects in 30 days, or May 1st that is consistent with State guidance and staff safety. Carry over projects/contracts will be evaluated for completion on a case-by-case bases to remain consistent with the State guidance. Field work with easement stewardship and forestry will continue to be re-evaluated every two weeks with social distancing, and staff safety in mind.

 

For Immediate Release: March 19, 2020

The Watershed Agricultural Council has been closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation. The safety and security of our staff and participants is our highest priority. In the interests of public health, and following guidance from local, state and federal authorities, as well as our closest collaborative partners we have decided to transition all WAC non-essential staff to remote-work operations. This is due to public health guidance to increasing “social distancing.”

Beginning Thursday, March 19, 2020, all WAC offices, as well as our partners at the Delaware County Soil and Water District and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County, are to work remotely and will not be engaging in any in-person meetings of any kind. All meetings with farmers, forest owners, and the general public will be rescheduled for a later date, or done via phone, email or text. If you have an upcoming scheduled farm visit or meeting, your planner will contact you to reschedule. Scheduled logging site visits will still be taking place unless otherwise stated.

Although non-essential staff are working remotely and not meeting in-person, we are still fully operational and diligently working on projects and will continue to do so. We thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we all work together during this difficult time. We will continue to evaluate the situation and update our staff, partners and participants with any necessary changes.

Our offices are running on an automated answering system with a staff directory. Each staff’s voicemail will have their contact information. Call: Watershed Agricultural Program and Pure Catskills: (607) 865-4005, USDA Farm Service Agency: (607) 865-4005, Delaware County Soil & Water District: (607) 865-7161, USDA NRCS: (607) 865- 6713, Watershed Agricultural Council Administrative, Forestry and Easement Programs: (607) 865-7790 and Watershed Agricultural Council East of Hudson Program: (914) 962-6355. Please find the Walton office staff directory here.