RAVENNA, Ohio — Farmer Don Smith and the City of Ravenna were applauded for their natural resource conservation efforts when the Portage Soil and Water Conservation District held its annual meeting Nov. 6 at the Maplewood JVS.
Smith, who farms near Rootstown with his wife, Pam, was recognized for years of working with the district to protect the land and water on and around his beef and grain farm.
Smith, who began farming full time in 1975 after serving in Vietnam, has grown his farm from 2 acres and a handful of dairy feeder calves to today’s 1,900 acres and 48-head beef herd. The Smiths are known in the area for raising and selling show steers and volunteering with Portage County 4-H.
The Smiths have worked with the SWCD since 1985 and completed projects including more than 3,000 feet of grassed waterways, roughly 10,000 square feet of heavy use pads, reseeding pasture land and devising a grazing management plan.
“He has worked with the district countless numbers of times,” said James Bierlair, district conservationist. “Sometimes he’ll just stop in the office to invite us out to see what else he can do. That’s the kind of interest we like to see.”
The City of Ravenna was recognized for officials’ willingness to support a storm water permit program mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
That program, NPDES Phase II, requires specific plans for preventing pollution from entering waterways, especially from construction sites and existing development.
The city has worked with the SWCD for about five years, according to Bierlair, and has been particularly helpful in adopting the required stormwater ordinances for the city as well as enforcing and funding the program.
The SWCD gave special recognition to the city’s engineering and service departments for their help with the project.
In conjunction with the annual banquet, the district held its first-ever pie contest. County residents were invited to bring their best pies for judging, and the desserts were then served at the banquet. Winner of the contest was Earl Phile with his cherry pie. Second place went to Midge Eby for her strawberry rhubarb pie.
Dayanara Moore topped the field of more than 900 entries in the county’s 2008 conservation poster contest, with the theme “Water is life” and received a plaque for her work. Other fifth-graders who placed in the contest were Carmen Dotterer, second; Jaclyn Morgan, third; Lindsey Jones, fourth; and Tyler Homan, honorable mention.
District staffers reviewed accomplishments and programming from the past year, including participation in the Envirothon and watershed watch stream monitoring program for students; annual tree and fish sale; and rental availability of a no-till grain drill.
District education specialist Jennifer White also reported on the district’s successful advanced teacher workshop, which introduced 14 teachers to environmentally diverse places in Portage and Geauga counties to take their students, and culminated in hands-on lessons along the shores of Lake Erie.
The district also hosted a wildlife day at Berlin Lake, where they taught students from the Waterloo district about fishing, hunting and trapping, archery, and wetlands.
White also revealed that the county would be hosting the 2009 Area 2 Envirothon contest, which will bring some 500 students and teachers to the county in the spring. The district will be seeking volunteers to help with the event.
Other accomplishments in 2008 included an office expansion, new staff personnel, and the addition of another vehicle for in-field work. The district also touted its workload for the year, which included review of 16 major developments, 34 minor developments, and 29 stormwater management plans county-wide.
Through the Natural Resource Conservation Service, district and NRCS personnel also secured three stream corridor conservation easements on 68 acres, which will protect those areas from development and ensure water quality.
Also of mention were 20 cost-share contracts awarded on 778 acres through USDA programs for projects like heavy use pads, waste storage facilities, timber stand improvement and grassed waterways. Those projects brought more than $72,000 in federal money to the county.
Re-elected to the board of supervisors were Kenneth Rufener and Beth Silva.