The Coshocton County Beacon February 15, 2017 - Page 41

FEBRUARY 15 , 2017 www . coshoctonbeacontoday . com THE BEACON 41
COSHOCTON - This is a continuing series on the 75th Anniversary of the Coshocton Soil & Water Conservation District ( SWCD ). Last month we touched on the importance of SWCD board members to our program . I recently had the privilege of interviewing two former board members to reflect on their years of service .
Wendell Waters served as a SWCD Supervisor from 1976-1984 . Wendell expressed his appreciation of the diversity of board members he served with ; from age , areas of the county , to their variety of farming enterprises . He felt like the board reflected the County ’ s topography and different practices being used . Wendell talked about contour strips being popular during his tenure and remembered the Appalachian Watershed Research Station as a helpful resource . Wendell commented , “ The type of conservation practices have changed as the county has moved to more grain production ; with fewer contour strips being used and more corn and soybeans .” Wendell also highlighted how technology has changed the way the SWCD communicates and works with producers .
Wendell expressed his concern for the “ heavy handedness of our federal government in relationship to land and water conservation .” He believes that landowners need to respect and care for our land and water resources but will resist regulations . Wendell emphasized that best management practices vary with topography but the continued use of conservation practices such as cover crops and residue management will help prevent erosion .
Gerald Finlay served as a Supervisor from 1984 to 2004 . In a recent interview , he remembered SWCD Technician Vernon Dreher stopped at the farm and asked him to put his name on the ballot for supervisor . Gerald has always believed that “ caring for the land , God ’ s greatest creation is important and this was another avenue to pursue that interest .”
Gerald emphasized how much he enjoyed working with fellow board members and listening to their input at board meetings . He also talked about how much he enjoyed working with other County agencies as well as

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Celebrating 75 years of conservation

Contributed | Beacon
Coshocton SWCD 1979 Board of Supervisors at a regular board meeting reviewing conservation plans . Pictured ( L-R ) are : George Braniger , Lyle Norris , George Gamertsfelder , Wendell Waters , and Fred Anderson .
meeting with the County Commissioners . He ’ s proud to say that he maintains many of these relationships today and believes that his work with the SWCD and River View School Board helped him build these relationships . He also discussed how all staff members are important and communication between staff and board members is vital for the success of the SWCD program .
When asked about challenges during his tenure Gerald said , “ I always wondered if any landowners were being missed that needed help .” Conservation practices most widely accepted during the years Finlay served were contour strips , no-till corn planting , drainage for wet spots , storage for manure and proper spreading , timber harvest for erosion control , and spring developments . Gerald believes that something that hasn ’ t changed is the work to keep soil in place and eliminating or reducing runoff .
Gerald stressed the importance of SWCD outreach events remembering a recent Cover Crop walk where
SWCD technicians had the roots of a rye cover crop on top of a white table . He explained that seeing those root hairs left such an impression on him about the importance of soil health .
Strong board members are the backbone of any successful SWCD program . Coshocton County has had 48 individuals serve in this capacity since 1942 . These community leaders take pride in managing a fiscally responsible program being good stewards of local and state government funds . SWCD Supervisors are well acquainted with our county and work hard to implement conservation programs that assist residents to protect our soil and water resources .
We look forward to sharing more stories about conservation as we celebrate our 75th Anniversary . Special thanks to the Beacon for allowing us to run this feature each month .
Contributed | Beacon

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