Don and Cory Hamann of Butte Falls are the recipients of the Conservationists of the Year award from Jackson Soil and Water District (JSWCD).
JSWCD manager, Randy White, in bestowing the honor, cited their stewardship of lands in creating wildlife habitat and reducing fuel loads on forest lands to prevent catastrophic wild fires. They also fenced wetlands to protect them and provided irrigation to keep them healthy.
The award, given yearly, is the highest honor JSWCD confers on individual landowners within Jackson County. White said they “exemplify stewards with their support of agriculture and natural resources.” In addition to being stewards of their lands, they also practice conservation on lands where they contract for log removal and forest thinning projects.
Joining the Hamanns as award winners were Don Snyder and Bill and Marion Collins. Snyder helped JSWCD in preparing educational posters for use in several venues and built a model methane digester also for display purposes. The Collins opened their property for the Forest Range Day camp and demonstrated conservation in their pear orchard and grazing lands.
Young John Gladman of Central Point demonstrated both knowledge of conservation practices, but also ability as an artist. He won the local poster contest, then entered, and won, the state award from the Oregon Association of Conservation Districts. His poster is now entered in the national contest, though no word has been received on the results.
The yearly award for Watershed Friendly Steward was presented to Ed and Nancy Vaughn and the Manager’s Award went to Nancy Leonard of the Upper Rogue Indepenent for coverage of agriculture and youth agriculture events in the valley.
Two guest speakers addressed the gathering at the Jan. 15 meeting held at Eagle Point High School. Chris Linn of Mon Apetit, told how his company is doing its utmost best to buy local foods within a small radius of facilities on the campus of Willamette University. Not only do they buy local, but they prepare foods with “as little alteration as possible.”
Barbara Boyer of the Yamhill SWCD has worked hard to gain entry into school lunch programs to provide youngsters with “close to the source” foods that are healthy and picked at the peak of ripeness. She and the students in McMinnville school district faced opposition but were finally able to bring local foods into the “thinking” of many food service providers. While the program is still in its infancy, she believes that shift in thinking will bring more nutritious foods to our youth and be a big boost for local producers.
Approximately 150 members and guests attended the event, held annually during the month of January. District Manager Randy White encourages residents of the Rogue Valley to contact the JSWCD office with questions about better utilization of lands. Residents can contact the office at 541 776-4270. Many programs are offered, including the Smart Horse Program and the grazing and pasture management classes that have been popular in the past years.
By Ralph McKechnie