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LaPorte County
Soil and Water
Conservation District

LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District

February 2017

Community and Classroom
Conservation Newsletter

Our Mission: We provide leadership, education, and technical assistance to empower La Porte County residents to conserve and improve our soil, water and related natural resources.

SWCD Joins RCFPT For AG Days

Row Crop AG Days is a much anticipated annual event where LaPorte County 4th Grade students learn about the importance of agriculture in their lives. LaPorte SWCD’s Water Quality station was one of 12 covering topics ranging from Beneficial Insects to Technology.

This year, 684 students from 13 schools learned about farmers’ use of filter strips, livestock fencing and nutrient management to improve water quality.

To right: SWCD Education Coordinator Nicole Messacar demonstrates how farmers’ best management practices can improve water quality at AG Days.

SWCD Education Coordinator Nicole Messacar demonstrates how farmers’ best management practices can improve water quality at AG Days.

Joint SWCD & Row Crop Annual Meeting set for Saturday, March 4

Program : Travis Cole, USGS "Finding &Interpreting Groundwater Information on the USGS website"

The Joint SWCD and Row Crop Food Producers Team (RCFPT) 2017 Annual Meeting and Elections will be held Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Red Mill County Park, 0185 Holmesville Rd, LaPorte.

Doors open at 11:30 AM for registration. (Row Crop will also be accepting 2017 dues at this time.)

12:00 PM—Luncheon served

12:45 PM—Row Crop business meeting and election.

1:15 pm—Travis Cole, USGS Finding and Interpreting Groundwater Information on the USGS website

2:00PM—SWCD business meeting and election.

Please RSVP before Friday, February 24 to either the SWCD at 219-326-6808, ext 2116 or Purdue Cooperative Extension Office, 219-324-9407.

There is no cost to attend, however seating is limited.

One SWCD Supervisor will be elected.

Supervisors direct District operations, prioritizing successful local programs to implement conservation practices on private lands and obtaining and providing needed technical and financial assistance.

SWCD Voter Eligibility:

An individual of voting age or a representative of a firm, company, or corporation that owns or rents land/property located within the district/county may vote. (Eligible individuals also include the owner and tenant of the same land/property as well as any owner’s or tenant’s spouse.)

Michigan City High School - Hansen Park Stewardship Project

On a cold, wet day in January, approximately 35 students from Michigan City High School joined experts in the environmental field to begin the work of restoring the riparian area of Trail Creek at Hansen Park in Michigan City. The LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District is excited to assist with the coordination of this unique partnership.

The day began with a tour of the site, in order to determine which species of plant, tree and shrub were invasive and which were native. Other attributes such as wildlife habitat, erosion and beautification were also considered. Drew Hart, with the U.S. Forest Service, tag-teamed a tour with Amanda Glanz, the Urban Forester for the City of Michigan City. Bright pink flagging tape was used to identify trees and shrubs that need to be removed.

While touring the small patch of forest on the site, an interesting insect was discovered! The locust borer, a native species of longhorn beetle, had infested the black locust trees on site. Black locust, once only found in the more southern parts of the state, has moved north and is becoming problematic in some areas. The students will be investigating the locust and the borer infestation more thoroughly. Susan Mihalo, with The Nature Conservancy, was also onsite to help with identification of invasive species. She taught the students how to use an app on their smart phones to report the species to an early detection network.

A team of students removed some sod around Sycamore Pond and installed native sedges, shrubs and forbs. These native plants will reduce the access of Canada Geese to the pond and increase water quality and wildlife habitat. More will be planted in the Spring.

Students remove sod around Sycamore Pond prior to planting
Students remove sod around Sycamore Pond prior to planting

Students planting native plants to reduce access of Canada Geese and increase water quality & wildlife habitat
Students planting native plants to reduce access of Canada Geese and increase water quality & wildlife habitat

Envirothon Prep Session - February 7

Student teams from four LaPorte County High Schools, who have been studying environmental impact topics on their own time as an extra-curricular activity with a mentor/teacher, met at Cummings Lodge in LaPorte to intensify their preparations for the NWl Indiana Envirothon Competition to be held March 16.

Special thanks to James Po'hoff, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Kelli Baxstrom and Kelly Caddell, National Park Service and Todd Ames, NRCS (retired), for volunteering their time and talent to gather informally with these students and offer information and answer questions pertaining to Envirothon topics.

Envirothon is a competitive learning event for high school-aged students. Envirothon tests the student’s knowledge of environmental resources including aquatics, soils, forestry, wildlife and current environmental issues.

To right: Working with Soil Survey.

Working with Soil Survey

Working with Soil Survey

Minute with Rick Brown

It’s hard to believe January has already come and gone and we are into FEBRUARY of 2017.

2016 MS4 activity saw big increases in both outreach and enforcement. The highlights:

  • 4 Quality Control Plan Reviews(Municipal Projects)
  • 55 Registered Complaints
  • 132 follow-up field evaluations
  • 18 Commercial Plan Reviews
  • 505 field self-inspection reports, site visits, boots-on-the-ground work & follow-up

That’s a total of 637 site evaluations for compliance for a very busy 2016.

As for outreach, our pet waste "Bags on Board" program usage increased to an estimated 230+ tons of manure removal, we designed and distributed "Phosphorus Free Zone" signage for residents surrounding local lakes, and continued our "Cigarette Butt counting contest" to raise awareness of how much debris can go down the storm sewers straight into the water supply!

THANK YOU for a great 2016, and 2017 is off to a great start as well. Site evaluations continue, and work has begun with the SWCD on an outreach program for contractors, coming soon.

Looking ahead to our Fair booth outreach, if you have any suggestions, questions about MS4 or see possible illegal dumping, please call or email me.

NRCS DC Theresa Wojkovich Retires

LaPorte County SWCD and our extended agricultural community extends hearty congratulations to Theresa Wojkovich on her January retirement.

Theresa dedicated her NRCS career to helping people put best management practices in place to further conservation. Working first in Michigan before arriving in LaPorte County, she saw planning change from pencil, paper and field journals to digital planning and Google Maps. Theresa has even had the pleasure of working with more than one generation of several families of farmers in her work to plan cover crops, filter strips, invasive species management, nutrient management, energy savings, seasonal high tunnels and more. We wish her a long, happy retirement!

Rob Lawson, NRCS Area Conservationist, presents Theresa Wojkovich with her recognition of years of service plaque & watch
Rob Lawson, NRCS Area Conservationist, presents Theresa Wojkovich with her recognition of
years of service plaque & watch

Until a permanent replacement is named, Randall Dickson, Soil Conservationist, has been named Acting District Conservationist and will be available at 100 Legacy Plaza West in LaPorte, 219-362-2820, extension 3.

Build Soil Health With Cover Crops

CCA Credits in Soil & Water and Crop Management

Tuesday, February 28 @ Red Mill County Park
0185 S Holmesville Rd, LaPorte IN

8:30- 9:00 am Registration
9:00-10:00 am BARRY FISHER, USDA Soil Health Team Leader, “Building a Soil Health Management System for Row Crops”
10:10-11:40 am COLLEEN FORESTIERI, Van Buren Co. SWCD and GEORGE MCMANUS, L.H. Piggo'
Farms, “Cover Crops in Vegetables: Lessons from a Farmer and a Technician”
12:00 pm LUNCH PROVIDED

**ALL TIMES CDT

Register by Friday, Feb 24 to Nicole Messacar at 219-326-6808 ext 2115 or nmessacar@laportecounty.org
Nicole can also answer questions about this program.

SWCD Staff, Board of Supervisors & Partners
SWCD Staff ext Partnership Staff
District Conservationist
USDA Service Center (219) 362-2820 Ext. 3


Board Of Supervisors
Don Lode, Chairman
Nate Mrozinski, Vice Chairman
Sacha Gee-Burns, Treasurer
Gene Schmidt, Secretary
Peter Lindborg, Member


Ethel Turkowski, Office Assistant 2118
Nicole Messacar, Education Coordinator 2115
Sheila Batchelor, District Administration Manager 2116
MS4
Rick Brown, MS4 Coordinator 2114

Indiana Conservation Partnership
Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts
Indiana Department of Environmental Management
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
ISDA Division of Soil Conservation
State Soil Conservation Board
Purdue Cooperative Extension Service
USDA Farm Service Agency
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Due to the nature of the work performed by the District staff, occasionally there are times when no one will be in the office. Please call before making a special trip to the office. (219) 326-6808 Ext. 2116
LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District

LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District
2857 W St. Rd 2, Suite B, LaPorte, IN 46350
(new county building at fairgrounds)
Phone (219) 326-6808, ext. 2116
Fax (219) 369-0599
www.laporteswcd.com
sbatchelor@laportecounty.org

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