For two and half days, this group of professionals convened by the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts met for the important purpose of discussing various conservation issues warranting immediate action, legislative measures and recommendations that could prove most effective in addressing resource concerns.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Marveling at Conservation,” based somewhat on the superhuman characters we are familiar with on the big screen and in comics. The conceptual idea behind the theme was to recognize the great effort that’s been put forth by conservationists, both professionally and from private individuals on a volunteer basis. By taking action in their own communities and watershed, farmers, business owners, land-use decision makers, and like-minded groups of citizens have become a “superheroes” of conservation.
Making a visit to this year’s event, Jason Weller, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, applauded the conference participants for their innovative and sometimes amazing stewardship efforts that are making commendable changes in our natural surroundings. Weller commented on how the focus has shifted notably from programs to people.
Conservation has always been our key motivation, and the more that can be established to protect our soils from erosion and Best Management Practices placed along our streams to improve water quality, the better our environment will be. Even so, it’s not merely about the number of conservation plans that could be written. It’s, in actuality, about people first and foremost.
And it’s no longer just the farmland — as important as it is to manage it wisely — but it’s also the natural amenities in the urban areas that need to be replenished and maintained, in big cities like Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo, as well as smaller cities, towns and communities like Sandusky, Mt. Gilead and New Riegel. “Helping people help the land” is not only NRCS’s mission; it’s the task of every conservation agency.
This common passion and commitment to conservation is affording us numerous opportunities. As a result, we’ve been able to install land management strategies purposely designed to keep our soils productive, our air and water cleaner and wildlife habitat sustainable. The successes we’ve come to realize can only be attributed to the “marvel” team of folks working together — agencies, farmers and private landowners — to make sure our land and water resources remain, not only in quality, but in quantity.
If you’re not already, it’s never too late to join the team and become a “Conservation Crusader” for Lake Erie and the surrounding environment. Visit the website to learn of tips from a Crusader, in addition to many of the accomplishments made thus far in lakeshore counties and throughout Ohio. You can also help spread the word regarding the various Farm Bill programs, Great Lakes Restoration Initiatives or other options that “empower” us to tackle the natural resource issues that are particular to our area.
Working together we will make a formidable difference!