Oxford County SWCD Photo Contest

The Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District would like to announce the 2020 Conservation Photo Contest. We are looking for your best conservation photo in the field of Agriculture, Forestry, Soil & Water or Wildlife to grace the cover of our 2020 Annual Report.

A prize package provided by Aubuchon Hardware, Tractor Supply and Young’s Greenhouse will be awarded to the First Place Winner. Three Honorable Mention winners will also be selected. All of the winning photos will be framed and on display at the 2020 District Annual Meeting.

For more information and entry forms please call 744-3119, or email oxfordcountyswcd@gmail.com.

Aroostook County Farmers are ‘Soil-ing’ their Underwear… for Science

From The County website

HOULTON, Maine (July 17, 2019) — Aroostook County’s three soil and water conservation district organizations are trying out an unusual experiment with area farmers this summer using “soiled underwear” to highlight soil health.

About a dozen farmers and gardeners around Aroostook County are participating in the project by burying all-cotton pairs of underwear in their gardens and crop fields, and planning to dig up what’s left of them in two months.

“The idea is that the more alive your soil, the more the undies will decompose,” said Angela Wotton, district manager at Southern Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District. “It’s sort of a fun experiment. It’s a good visual for soil health.”

The more biologically active soil is, with a diversity of bacteria, fungi, earthworms and microorganisms, the quicker the cotton or other natural materials will break down. Agricultural fields with more soil life can better support crops and retain organic matter and nutrients over the long term.

In the last decade, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has helped more farmers adopt soil-building strategies such as cover crops planted over multi-year rotations of cash crops like potatoes and grains.

The demonstration in Aroostook County is a collaboration with the local offices of the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Southern Aroostook, Central Aroostook and the St. John Valley.

Wotton credits the start of the initiative to Kelsey Ramerth, soil conservationist. The St. John Valley team will be digging up the underwear to display during the annual Ploye Festival Aug. 9-11 in Fort Kent.

“Our ultimate goal and our focus has been on building soil health. I feel like a lot of farmers in Southern Aroostook plant a fall or winter cover and try different combinations of cover crops. A picture is worth 1,000 words. It shows how alive the soil is,” said Wotton. “The farmers in our district have made a lot of gains. They’re doing a lot of work on their farms to focus on soil health.”

 

Soil and Water Stewardship Week is April 27 to May 3, 2014

In 1955, the National Association of Conservation Districts began a national program to encourage Americans to focus on stewardship. Stewardship Week is officially celebrated from the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in May. It is one of the world’s largest conservation-related observances.

The program relies on locally-led conservation districts sharing and promoting stewardship and conservation activities. Districts provide conservation and stewardship field days, programs, workshops and additional outreach efforts throughout their community to educate citizens about the need to care for our resources. Many district activities extend beyond the one week observance to include an entire year of outreach.

The Stewardship concept involves personal and social responsibility, including a duty to learn about and improve natural resources as we use them wisely, leaving a rich legacy for future generations.

One definition of Stewardship is “the individual’s responsibility to manage his life and property with proper regard to the rights of others.” E. William Anderson suggests stewardship “is essentially a synonym for conservation.”

Stewardship Week helps to remind us all of the power each person has to conserve natural resources and improve the world. When everyone works together with their local conservation district, that power continuously grows. We have seen these good deeds multiply across the nation’s network of conservation districts and the results are spectacular!

When the land does well for its owner, and the owner does well by his land—when both end up better by reason of their partnership—then we have conservation. – Aldo Leopold

Stewardship week each year is always the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in May.

Saco River Conference April 23 Addresses Conservation Challenges

The Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District (OCSWCD) is pleased to announce a first-of-its-kind conference, on April 23, which brings together experts from two states – Maine and New Hampshire – to discuss the many conservation challenges facing the river and its watershed. The day-long conference will be held at the Leura Eastman Performing Arts Center on the campus of Fryeburg Academy.
OCSWCD is sponsoring the event. Co-sponsors include the Carroll County Conservation District in New Hampshire, the University of New England, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, Fiddlehead Environmental Consulting, Maine Association of Conservation Districts, and Norway Savings Bank. Advance registration costs $30 for non-students, $15 for students. For those registering after April 20 registration is $35 for non-students, $20 for students.
The Saco River Watershed faces many conservation challenges. A partial list includes mitigating the impact of flooding, protecting water quality, preventing river bank erosion, and enhancing fisheries. At the same time, the Saco River is prized for outstanding recreational opportunities. It is home to rare ecosystems and plant and animal species. Protecting the watershed’s unique assets into the future presents a huge challenge to planners, state and municipal officials, and residents. This conference aims to start that dialogue.
Topics range from fisheries, tourism and invasive species (terrestrial and aquatic) to discussions about conservation easements, public education, recreation, and restoring native sea-run fish populations. The final session of the day is titled “Where do we go from here?” and will, with audience participation, explore strategies, such as developing a two-state working group, to begin addressing issues that affect the watershed on both sides of the state line.

On April 23, the day of the conference, registration begins at 7:45 a.m. After brief introductory remarks by the conference coordinator at 8:30 a.m., the keynote address starts at 8:40 a.m. and will be delivered by Christine Feurt, Ph.D. of the University of New England. The title of her presentation is “Sustaining the Saco – The power of collaboration from the headwaters to the sea.” The morning features concurrent breakout sessions, while there will be combined sessions in the afternoon. Throughout the day, there will be breaks for networking. Lunch will be served at the Fryeburg Academy dining hall which is a short walk from the performing arts center. The conference ends about 3:40 p.m.
For more information about the conference, the full agenda, and to register online go to the OCSWCD website: http://www.oxfordcountyswcd.org. Alternately, registration forms can be downloaded from the website and mailed with registration fees by check payable to: Oxford County SWCD, 17 Olson Rd., South Paris, ME 04281. Maine Code Enforcement Officers are eligible for 1 contact hour in Land Use or Shoreland Zoning offered by the Maine Departments of Economic and Community Development and Environmental Protection. Foresters are eligible for 3.5 category 1 CFE credits from the Society of American Foresters. For planners, the conference is pending 6.5 AICP CM credits from the American Planning Association.
# # # # # # #
For more information:
– Jeff Stern, Watershed Specialist, Fiddlehead Environmental Consulting, email address: sternjm@hotmail.com, telephone: 207-627-3126.
– Michele Windsor, Project Manager, Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District, email address: michele.windsor@me.nacdnet.net, telephone: (207)743-5789 X101.

National Ground Water Awareness Week

Groundwater Awareness Week, March 9-15, 2014: Time to check your water wells

Just as you check your furnace or smoke detector batteries seasonally, spring is a good season to have an annual water well checkup before the peak water use season begins, according to the National Ground Water Association (NGWA).

Also, preventative maintenance usually is less costly than emergency maintenance, and good well maintenance — like good car maintenance — can prolong the life of your well and related equipment. NGWA further recommends you test your water whenever there is a change in taste, odor, or appearance, or when the system is serviced.

Wells can provide high-quality drinking water, and about half the U.S. population receives its drinking water from wells. But with well ownership comes the responsibility of keeping the water well in good working order. A check of your well by a qualified water well contractor may include:
• A flow test to determine system output, along with a check of the water level before and during pumping (if possible), pump motor performance (check amp load, grounding, and line voltage), pressure tank and pressure switch contact, and general water quality (odor, cloudiness, etc.).
• A well equipment inspection to assure it’s sanitary and meets local code.
• A test of your water for coliform bacteria and nitrates, and anything else of local concern. Other optional tests are those for iron, manganese, water hardness, sulfides, and other water constituents that cause problems with plumbing, staining, water appearance, and odor.
The Maine Association of Conservation Districts also recommends that well owners:
• Keep hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides, and motor oil far away from your well, and maintain a “clean” zone of at least 50 feet between your well and any kennels and livestock operations.
• Maintain proper separation between your well and buildings, waste systems, and chemical storage areas.
• Periodically check the well cover or well cap on top of the casing (well) to ensure it is in good repair and securely attached. Its seal should keep out insects and rodents.
• Keep your well records in a safe place. These include the construction report, and annual water well system maintenance and water testing results.