As we head into the holiday season, I’d like to highlight the Twelve Gifts of Conservation that we get when we conserve natural resources.  Each breath of air, sip of water and bite of food you will ever take exists because of natural resources and how we protect them.

  1. Food

Conservation secures our food supply by providing nutrient-rich soils to nourish the foods          we eat.  Landowners across the nation also implement conservation practices to reduce          pollutants in an effort to keep our water clean. Innovative growing systems, such as high tunnels, can extend growing seasons providing healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables        throughout the year.


Healthy soil is the foundation of agriculture. Farmers across the nation see improvement    to their soil’s physical and biological properties through the use of cover crops. In addition to supplying nutrients, suppressing weeds, preventing erosion and improving the availability of water in the soil, utilizing cover crops can have an impact on your bottom line.  Healthy soils are also resilient after natural disasters.


Agricultural working lands can provide great habitat for wildlife. Partnering with       landowners is critical to protecting wildlife, while also keeping working lands working for           the millions of people in the United States and around the world that depend on U.S.          agriculture.


  1. Plants

Plants offer a natural solution for addressing many conservation challenges. From wildfire   restoration and invasive species control to forage production, wildlife habitat, erosion           prevention, nutrient filtering, stream bank protection, and sources of biofuels, plants are a sustainable resource that help protect and heal our landscapes. Well-managed grazing           systems improve the health and vigor of plants.


  1. People
    Conservation rewards the people who practice it. The USDA offers voluntary programs to landowners and agricultural producers to provide financial and technical assistance to help manage natural resources in a sustainable manner and improve their operations while also impacting their profitability.



  1. Health
    Conservation is not only beneficial to your financial heath, but to your mental and spiritual health as well. Conservation restores balance to natural systems. By using soil health principles and systems that include no-till, cover cropping and diverse rotations, more farmers are increasing their soil’s organic matter and improving microbial activity. As a result, farmers are sequestering more carbon, increasing water infiltration, improving wildlife and pollinator habitat while harvesting better profits and often better yields.


  1. Protection
    Overgrown forests pose a wildfire risk. Through timber stand improvement, trees are thinned out allowing forests to thrive and protect the public from the risk of fire. Conservation practices protect our landscapes while also providing valuable protection to our homes and communities with flood protection. This includes maintaining aging infrastructure including dams and levees. USDA works with local partners to safeguard those who depend upon these structures.


  1. Recreation

Conservation also creates unique opportunities for recreation. From introducing plants    that attract pollinators like butterflies and bees, to creating wildlife habitat for woodland           creatures, conservation provides benefits to those who cherish the outdoors. Additionally,       healthy landscapes need healthy wetlands. While providing habitat, they also filter the air          and water. Wetlands clean and recharge our groundwater.


  1. Air

Conservation cleans and renews our air.  Conservation programs give landowners the       tools and resources to protect environmentally sensitive land and restore grasslands and           forests, which leads to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and enhanced wildlife habitat.


  1. Water
    One of our precious resources is water. Soil quality is a key water quality determinant because soils regulate and partition water flow and buffer against human use and environmental changes.  NRCS provides targeted funding for financial and technical assistance in small watersheds most in need and where farmers can use conservation practices to make a difference.


  1. Technology

Technology helps farmers who irrigate to use a smaller pump while controlling the         frequency and voltage and allowing multiple systems to run off a single pump. This           innovation decreases both energy and water use.


  1. Future

When properly tended, nature is the ultimate renewable resource.  Were the world not          continuously renewed, it would soon be consumed and barren. Conservation is the gift that keeps giving.


Conservation Corner

Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at .