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63rd annual SWCD breakfast meeting draws record turnout

February 08, 2012
A record 132 people attended the 63rd annual Crawford County Soil and Water Conservation District breakfast meeting Saturday morning, which featured a keynote address from Jon Behrman of the Southern Indiana Cooperative Weed Management Area.

Billy Joe Walker, a member of the Crawford County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors, presents Robin Haney with the River Friendly Farmer award Saturday morning. Haney and her husband, Shannon, who was out of town, are livestock farmers. Other farmers honored were Jim and the late Doris Kaiser (Master Farmer), Jennings and Janice Conrad (Conservation Farmer of the Year) and Dan and Linda Wehr and Stan and Colletta Wehr (Forestry). Photo by Chris Adams
Behrman told the crowd at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School that the goal of the 35-county nonprofit organization, one of three in the state, is to get individuals and groups to work in collaboration to prevent the spread of invasive species.

"What we're trying to do is gather people together to work on weed issues across boundaries," he said.

Invasive species, which can also include animals, such as mussels, Asian carp and the emerald ash borer, can be detrimental to an area because they can wipe out the native species, Behrman said. In fact, he said, 42 percent of the species on the endangered list are there primarily because of invasive species.

Behrman said an invasive plant species can knock out tree growth as well as that of other plants, and some, such as Giant Hogweed, are toxic and should not be touched. It is easier to treat an infected area when the invasive species is young, as some, once mature, can be especially difficult, and expensive, to remove, he explained.

In 2004, the most recent year with available data, $120 billion was spent on treating invasive species, Behrman said.

He noted that the problem is so bad in Great Britain, that it is illegal there to sell real estate if a particular invasive species is found on the property. Behrman told about a newspaper article that detailed how the top layer of soil was removed on a property and replaced with new soil before a house was built only to have the invasive species growing up through the cracks between the walls and floors and in between window panes just six weeks after construction.

Part of what makes it difficult to get rid of some of these species, Behrman said, is how they are dispersed, including through wind, water, animals, direct planting and seeding, equipment and contaminated soil and plant matter. Even if a landowner takes precautions, they may still end up with an invasive species if their neighbor has one, he said.

Behrman encouraged landowners to form local groups "because you guys know what the problems are, and you can help find solutions."

He noted that his organization also is available to help, and offers a smart phone application for iPhone and Android users that allows them to take a photo of the species and send it to the SICWMA. They can also submit information at the organization's website, www.sicwma.org, as well as by calling 1-812-797-8783.

Saturday's meeting also included the re-election of Kenny Sturgeon to the SWCD Board of Supervisors, reports from several organizations, including the Farm Services Agency, National Resources Conservation Service, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, South Central Indiana Livestock Marketing Cooperative, Purdue University-Breaking New Ground, Crawford County Junior-Senior High School FFA and Lincoln Hills Resource Conservation and Development, and the presentation of several awards.

Jim and the late Doris Kaiser were named the Master Farmer, Jennings and Janice Conrad were honored as the Conservation Farmer of the Year, Dan and Linda Wehr and Stan and Colletta Wehr received the Forestry award and Shannon and Robin Haney were presented the River Friendly Farmer award.

In addition, certificates were presented to this year's SWCD Poster Contest winners. They were:

Kindergarten and First Grade: Camryn Fraze, first place; Cameron Long, second; and Jayla Froman, third.

Second and Third Grades: Bryce Rahman, first; Treasure Nickelson, second; and Makenzie Schultz, third.

Fourth and Fifth Grades: Morgan Stutzman, first; Chantel Lahue, second; and Lacey Bockting, third.

Sixth and Seventh Grades: Jessica Shelton, first; Summer Borin, second; and Katey Kaiser, third.

There were 350 entries in this year's contest.

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