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Officials Show How Funds Can Help Curb Erosion : Lancaster: Nearly $800,000 of federal money is earmarked for fighting wind-borne sand.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In a sandy alfalfa field northwest of Lancaster, Los Angeles County and federal officials demonstrated Monday how they plan to spend nearly $800,000 to control problems with soil erosion and blowing dust in the Antelope Valley.

Federal agriculture officials announced last week that they would plant trees, dig furrows and seed and fence 2,400 severely eroded acres of unused farmland between 90th Street West and 110th Street West north of Avenue D.

Reduced visibility due to wind-borne soil this year has caused numerous auto accidents on local highways, hazardous runway conditions at nearby Edwards Air Force Base and complaints from residents of the Palmdale and Lancaster area.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided $800,000 to the county to plant trees and other vegetation, meant to develop roots that will hold the soil, and to build fences to block drifting sand and dust.

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Monday’s demonstration was to show methods of seeding and planting and to interest local farmers in bidding on the work, said Robert Dean, a local Department of Agriculture representative.

“We would like to work with local farmers because they are the experts when it comes to working with the soils of the area,” Dean said. “We have a lot of farmers here that aren’t doing that well. This is an opportunity for them to use their equipment to re-vegetate barren areas and at the same time put a few dollars in their pockets.”

Dean said he hopes that local farmers will submit bids and that work will begin in January and be completed by the end of February. He estimated the measures will cost about $300 an acre.

“This is a good opportunity,” said Terry Munz, a third-generation Antelope Valley wheat and barley farmer, as a tractor clattered in the background, furrowing sand. “I’ve had three years of struggling because of this drought. This is a good way to make a little money and solve the dust problem.”

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Jack Richards, who owns a 640-acre farm, pointed a finger toward Lancaster and said, “They’ve got to do something. The winds here get to 80 m.p.h. All this blows on to all those big new homes.”

Clyde Larsen Jr., whose father has farmed in the area since 1945, was optimistic. “It’s good ground, even though it looks like sand. There’s good ground under the sand,” which will provide fertile soil for the trees and other new vegetation, he said.


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