Maybe you've seen an insert in your bulletin in one or more springs about soil conservation. Perhaps you've sat down to eat at a local restaurant in the spring and noticed that your placemat was all about soil and water conservation. Or perhaps one of your younger children or grandchildren brought home information form school or Sunday School about soil and water conservation.
Any of these were the likely result of your local soil and water conservation district helping celebrate Soil and Water Stewardship Week. It's a national celebration. The dates for this year's event are April 24 through May 1.
Visiting a local soil and water conservation district office this week, it turned out the board room was filled with packets of soil and water stewardship information. The district staff and supervisors will be distributing this information to churches, schools, local businesses and others who are willing to join in the effort to make people more aware of soil and water conservation, and the need to be good stewards of the resources that we have in this country.
This year's theme is 'Forests for people…more than you can imagine.' It's a fitting topic for Indiana. The state is blessed with 4 million acres of forest land. Many foresters say Indiana ranks among the top locations in the world in terms of having productive and diverse forest lands in one location.
"The range of environmental, recreational and economic benefits our forests provide is tremendously important to our quality of life," says Ray McCormick, current president of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. A life-long true supporter of natural resource conservation, McCormick farms near Vincennes. He was named an Indiana Prairie Farmer/ Purdue University College of Agriculture Master Farmer in 2010.
McCormick issued a news release stating the importance of recognizing soil and water conservation efforts next week. His comments centered around the value of the forest products industry to both Indiana business, and to Indiana farmers and landowners who sell timber each year.
Not all news for forests is good. Experts estimate that within the next 20 years, 7% of the forest industry will be lost due to the destruction caused by the Emerald Ash borer. Other insects attack other trees besides ash trees.
"It has never been more important to support and practice forest stewardship to ensure the sustainability of our forest ecosystems," McCormick says. "The majority of Indiana woodlands are privately owned, of which only 10% benefit from an active management plan."
Those plans are usually called timber stand improvement plans. District foresters employed by the state can be contacted for help in assessing your woods and laying out a plan to make it as productive and profitable as possible.