Wayne Soil and Water has welcomed a busy spring

Wayne Soil and Water has welcomed a busy spring
Dan Starcher

Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District employees help pond owners prepare their fish purchases for transport.


If one thing makes employees at the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District happy, it is springtime — time to start restocking ponds, planting trees and reconnecting with the community.

“Springtime is when it really gets going for us,” program administrator John Lorson said. “We emphasize conservation all year long. In the winter we hold classes and try to put the thought of conservation into people’s minds.”

Born out of poor agricultural practices that led to the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, the Soil and Water Conservation District’s mission is to protect, restore, enhance and promote the wise use of natural resources through projects, technical assistance, education and the cooperation of landowners.

“We just wrapped up a pond clinic,” Lorson said. “So that is a perfect lead-in to our fish sale.”

Lorson said ponds require maintenance, and there could be fish die-offs if left unattended.

To keep a pond viable, Lorson and the SWCD staff make it convenient for pond owners to gather as much information locally as possible by hosting classes and conducting an annual fish sale at the fairgrounds.

After delivering approximately 5,700 fish on Tuesday, SWCD staff diverted their attention to the preparation of 2,500 trees for distribution on Thursday.

Native trees are in high demand at the moment, according to Lorson.

“The derecho that came through here last summer wiped out tens of thousands of trees,” he said. “Some of that was mature, old-growth forestation, and filling those gaps left by the storm is important.”

Lorson explained why replanting trees needs to be a priority. “If we do not get on top of this and get trees growing soon, invasive plant species will take over,” he said.

Lorson, who collaborated with the Holmes County Soil and Water District for tree orders, said the amount of tree orders tripled this year.

Community relations are an essential part of the district’s mission. This year Norwayne FFA and vocational agriculture advisor Abby VanTyne brought students to the Wayne County Administration Building to practice a skit they will perform in a state competition in May on the topic of manure spreading.

“The students did a fantastic job; they were very knowledgeable,” Lorson said. “Farmers have a small window of opportunity to fertilize their fields and are also constrained by weather. Getting the right amount of manure at the right time in the fields is critical, and the conditions have to be just right.”

Dan Starcher is the public communications coordinator for the Wayne County government.

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