NEEDED: ENTRIES IN THE DISTRICT'S ANNUAL CONTEST, DEADLINE JANUARY 31ST
An open contest for boys and girls, 12 years of age and younger; does not jeopardize Texas UIL eligibility.
Poster entries shall be on standard poster board, cut to half size – 22” by 14”. Artwork should be produced
with materials which do not readily smear, crack, or chip, fixatives or lamination may be used. The artwork
shall be flat. Each poster entry should have the following information attached to the back: (1) student name,
(2) teacher name, (3) grade, (4) school name and town. Entries will be judged February 6, 2014. 1st, 2nd,
and 3rd place winners will receive a plaque and advance to area competition. If chosen as a winner in area
competition, the District will provide tickets to the Area 5 Awards Banquet for up to 3 people. Honorable
Mention Ribbons will be awarded to each class entering.
All 2014 posters submitted shall feature the following 2013 theme: “Where Does Your Water Shed?” - This covers water resources, its natural cycle and its importance to us. Visit http://www.nacdnet.org/stewardship&education.com for information on the 2013 theme.
Ages 13 and under – maximum of 300 words Ages 14 to 18 – maximum of 500 words
This is an open contest for boys and girls and does not jeopardize Texas UIL eligibility. This year’s theme is “How Soil and Water Conservation Improves Water Quality.” Information on this theme can be found by visiting the stewardship website at http://www.nacdnet.org/stewardship&education.com.
Below are some tips for writing essays.
•Answer the question of “how soil and water conservation improves water quality”. •Make your writing interesting to the reader and structure each sentence to help the reader understand the essay. •Make sure your ideas about soil and water conservation are clear and easy for the reader to follow. •Write about your ideas in detail so that the reader really understands what you are saying. •Check your work for spelling, capitalization, punctuation, grammar, and sentence structure. Each entry should have the following information on the cover sheet: (1) student name, (2) teacher name, (3) grade, (4) school name and town. Wanda Carter will pick up entries if requested. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or bring your entries to the Agricultural Services Center, 604 North Main, Suite 100 in Weatherford no later than January 31, 2014. Entries will be judged February 6, 2014; 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners will receive a plaque and advance for area competition. If chosen as a winner in the area competition, the District will provide tickets to the Area 5 Awards Banquet for the winner and his or her parents. Honorable Mention Ribbons will also be awarded to each class entering.
THE STATE'S O&M GRANT PROGRAM FOR SOIL ANDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICTS
On November 1, 2013, Governor Rick Perry renewed the certification of exceptional drought conditions originally set out in an Emergency
Disaster Proclamation dated July 5, 2011. Even though the drought began in October of 2010, little rain and high summer temperatures made
2011 the driest year since recording started in 1895. Summer temperatures were estimated to be 2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, also making
2011 the most intense one-year drought ever.
Statewide, the state’s reservoirs are estimated to be at 60.6% full, while 90% of the state is still in some type of drought condition. Even though Parker County now ranks in the “moderate” category, strains on the county’s water supply are becoming apparent. At this time, water in many of the District’s flood control structures is at historic lows, while some are even considered dry. Planning and design of floodwater retarding structures includes an allowance for anticipated sediment accumulation. At this time the District does not foresee a need or have funds available to dredge the lakes of sediment. But there is good news. The State of Texas has reinstated the O&M Grant Program for Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Over the next 4 bienniums, the District will receive a designated amount to remove trees and other woody vegetation, rebuild fences and replace gates, resolve erosion issues on the dam and in the spillway, repair minor wave erosion and trailing by livestock, replacement of eroded corrugated pipe ends, and repair/replacement of valves and valve stems. While the District’s priority is clearing sites, less costly O&M needs could be addressed while working on a site.
ALAN SCHUTTS RETIRES FROM THE PARKER COUNTY SWCD BOARD
MYRON MERZ, INTERIM TEAM LEADER FOR WEATHERFORD AND MINERAL WELLS FIELD OFFICES
NRCS EMPLOYEES IN THE WEATHERFORD FIELD OFFICE
Alan Schutts recieves his 20 yr plaque Myron Merz, NRCS, in the Weatherford NRCS employees Terri Walker, Juliette from Joe Brinkley field office Carter and Travis Swift
Faces may change, but the high level of commitment to conservation never does. With the retirement of Alan Schutts after 20 years with the Parker County Soil and Water Conservation District, another strong voice for conservation was needed. Larry Walden accepted the open position for Zone 3, and was officially appointed to the position in October of 2012. An active rancher, Mr. Walden also serves as County Commissioner for Precinct 3 in Parker County, and is a small business owner as well. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience and is a valuable asset to the District. Myron Merz, District Conservationist, took over leadership of the USDA-NRCS Weatherford – Mineral Wells team on January 2nd after the retirement of William Donham. Based mainly in the Mineral Wells office for the past 10 years and in Wellington for the 13 years before, Myron comes to the Weatherford Field Office most Wednesdays and Thursdays and is available to help with conservation issues. The rest of the Weatherford Team is made up of Terri Walker, Travis Swift and Juliet Carter. Terri Walker spends most of her time in the Weatherford Field Office. Having moved around for most of her life she received her education in a variety of different institutions. A teacher by trade, Terri taught mainly in junior highs and high schools before she joined NRCS six years ago as a Soil Conservationist. She believes Weatherford is the perfect place to work and live, her job is rewarding and she has great co-workers. She hopes never to move again. Travis has worked as a Conservation Technician with NRCS for a little over 3 years. He wears several hats, but his main workload consists of planning, designing and overseeing livestock watering systems. His type of work is demanding and challenging, but “the greatest thing about this job is the opportunity to go out and meet people in the communities of Parker and Palo Pinto counties.” Juliet Carter has been with NRCS since 1993, starting as a Soil Scientist in Young County. Today she is serving as a Soil Conservationist in the Mineral Wells Field Office, but spends part of her time in the Weatherford Field Office working on conservation planning. Juliet graduated from Tarleton University in Stephenville with a degree in plant and soil science. She has lived in Weatherford for the past 18 years.
HELPING OUT THE LOCAL WILDLIFE
Many times wildlife is taken for granted and at other times wildlife can be considered a nuisance. Think of birds and bats. Both are beneficial, but birds are much nicer to have around than bats. Having both bird houses and bat houses around does make perfect sense, one feeds at night and the other by day, each eating a thousand or more mosquitos in a single night. While only the female mosquito spreads disease by feeding on blood, the more mosquitos that are eaten by birds or bats are that many less needing to be sprayed with costly insecticides. It is estimated that bats alone eat billions of tons of insects each year, pretty much anything that happens to be flying in their airspace. All wildlife needs food, water, shelter, and space in which to live. Whether you have 1 acre or 100 acres, wildlife is all around you. Birds need shelter. If you want birds to stay around your yard or in open areas near you, they need bird houses or large trees to build nests. Water and food sources need to be placed in areas away from people’s homes; birds like to observe us from a distance as well. Bird feeders hung in trees will bring color to your yard and a window view will offer many hours of bird watching. Wildlife prefers home style meals, so stay with native plantings as much as possible. A good resource is the Master Gardeners; they are experts in native plantings. Check out their gardens at our office at 604 North Main Street in Weatherford. Deer have become a problem in recent years. Homeowners put out deer corn hoping to bring wildlife to their area, but forget that deer may be traveling through other people’s property and may not be as welcome. Having large animals near your home could cause problems, when deer become too comfortable you could find them in your yard, driveway or on rural roads you frequently travel. Deer are considered “weed eaters” as they readily forage on forbs. Forbs are listed as broad leafed herbaceous plants that are not considered grasses. If you live near ponds or creeks you may see more wildlife drawn to these water sources. Large tracts with diverse native plants that include fruiting trees or shrubs as well as trees that produce a nut will be attractive to many birds and mammals. If you are not sure what type of plants you have on your property or what type of plants to encourage, check out the NRCS plant data base at http://plants.usda.gov or Lady Bird Johnson’s Wildflower Center at http://www.wildflowers.org.
WHERE TO GO ON THE INTERNET TO FIND ASSISTANCE OR INFORMATION
WHAT THEIR DUTIES ARE AND HOW THEY CAN HELP FARMERS, RANCHERS AND OTHER INDIVIDUALS
Natural Resources Conservation Service - Field Office Weatherford, Texas - Home office Temple, Texas
website http://www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov/. Administers farm bill programs. Cost-share is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Free consultation is provided to farmers and ranchers who want or need to conserve soil, water and other natural resources.
Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board - Home office Temple, Texas
website http://www.tsswcb.state.tx.us/. Coordinates programs administered by local Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Programs include cost share assistance for water quality, management, and conservation planning.
USDA – Farm Service Agency - Field Office Weatherford, Texas - Home office College Station, Texas
website http://www.fsa.usda.gov/. Administers NAP (the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Insurance Program), CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) signups, Farm Loans – including emergency loans when applicable,
Texas AgriLife Extension Service - Local Office Weatherford, Texas - Home Office College Station, Texas
agriculture through their affiliation with Texas A&M University. Youth education through 4-H
COPING WITH THE DROUGHT, MAN AND BEAST
Heat stress, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, cramps, dizziness, nausea, headache, all signs and symptoms of being dangerously
overheated. Working out in the heat alone can be problematic if you must work during the heat of the day instead of the cooler morning
or evening hours. We all know that agricultural work is a hazardous occupation, being outside and exposed not only to heat, but spiders,
snakes and various biting, stinging insects, is just another part of the job.
Full sunshine on hot day can increase the heat index by 15% when humidity is factored in. Wear a wide brimmed hat and loose,
light colored clothes; keep plenty of water handy for those “cool down breaks” that you should be taking every 20 minutes or so. Save
sodas and other drinks that have caffeine for after outdoor work is done, caffeine does not hydrate the body adequately. Light snacks,
but not salty snacks, are encouraged. The best advice: plan ahead.
Being up-to-date on all the latest information is a must. Check out “Heat Wave: A Major Summer Killer”, an online brochure put
out by the National Weather Service. The brochure describes the heat index, also heat disorders, and heat wave safety tips. Look for it
The USDA Agricultural Research Service and NOAA publish a heat stress forecast at http://www.ars.usda.gov/Main/docs.htm?docid=21306. In the hot Texas summers, cattle need shade and water to mitigate heat stress. Water is nine times more attractive to cattle than salt, and cattle will change their normal routine to stay close to water. Heat stress begins building in livestock as the temperature rises, and if the nights are hot and humid, cattle find little relief from the heat. Fat cattle look good, but suffer more from the heat, as do lactating cattle. Black colored livestock will be more prone to heat stress than white or tan livestock because the color black absorbs more heat. Cattle will crowd together in the shade of trees or by barn walls and other outbuildings in an effort to keep cool. Because trees do not block air flow, they are better for livestock and should be incorporated into the design of the pasture. More trees, more shade. Cattle maintain a thermal balance by their breathing rate, so gentle breezes wafting over a sweaty cow will provide some relief during those 100+ degree days. An article in the May USDA publication “Working Trees” stated that “a 20 degree rise in ambient temperature results in a 38% increase in water needs,” so be sure your livestock watering system is in good shape and working properly. The article went on to state that when livestock “drink more water they lose sodium, magnesium and potassium in their urine.” So don’t forget to put out mineral supplements and salt blocks. But what about feeding? When hot, cattle may experience a decrease in appetite. Feed a “low heat, increment diet” in the early morning or early evening when cattle are more inclined to leave their shady spot.
EASTERN GAMAGRASS, GREAT FOR CONSERVATION PLANTINGS
A hardy, warm season grass, eastern gamagrass grows well in marginal soils and is able to send its roots deep into the earth to tap water. This ability makes eastern gamagrass not only drought hardy, but a high yield forage as well. It has been called “Queen of the Grasses” because of all the good qualities it possesses and its ability to trap carbon below ground. Once found throughout the eastern United States, eastern gamagrass fields was thought to be plowed under to grow grain crops or grazed to death by livestock. Today there are very few native stands of eastern gamagrass. A distant relative of field corn, eastern gamagrass can be difficult to establish because of its hard seed casing, but well worth the effort. It is a long lived, native perennial bunchgrass that has an estimated life span of 50 years, and grows between 4 to 8 feet in height. Well adapted to dryland conditions, eastern gammagrass will even provide a respectable stand in areas with annual precipitation of 25 inches. Eastern gammagrass has what is called aerenchyma tissue, tissue that has air passages in its spongy roots with large holes that run longitudinally through the roots. Eastern gammagrass prefers heavier soils and wet conditions to flourish to its full capacity. Claypan soils become elastic when wet and hard when dry, but the roots of eastern gammagrass are able to punch through the clay layer and burrow deep to access the water table in the spring when it may be highest. Air passages enable the plant to deliver oxygen to the roots at times of flooding, keeping the plant alive and growing. Roots die off on a regular basis every year or so, but decompose slowly, leaving a tract for other roots to follow. This ability gives the plant the added benefit of always being able to access water, whether it is from above or below the soil layer. It also opens up the soil to better rain water infiltration reducing run-off. It is planted 3 to 4 weeks earlier than bermudagrass and, being a warm season grass, provides forage through the hot summer, but does require a long rest between grazing cycles. When eastern gamagrass is fertilized, it can be used for reclamation of acid or compact soils. Because established plants have wide bases, it can be planted as a vegetative barrier to control sedimentation and protect fields from surface runoff or as filter strips to separate fields from water sources.