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Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District holds annual meeting

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District held its annual meeting Friday afternoon at the Putnam County Fairgrounds where they discussed conservation issues and announced the Woodland Conservationist of the Year award.

Keynote speaker Jill Hoffmann from Empower Results, described the research project her group recently completed of Big Walnut and Deer Creek Watershed Management Plan.

The idea behind the project is to decide where to put conservation efforts first. The area they covered goes from Boone County through Greencastle and out to I-70 covering 271,000 acres. They took chemical samplings of water, looked at flow through areas and did biological evaluations of insects in the water.

"We picked insects out of the water and then identified them," Hoffman told the audience. This process helps them determine what is going on in the watershed.

The group checked Big Walnut a few days prior to the June 7 flooding that occurred throughout the watershed.

They checked for the bacteria e-coli, checking it against state standards. After the floods they discovered between 235--10,000 colonies of e-coli in the flooded water.

Hoffman described the large number of junkyards at the headwaters of the creek in Boone County and their effect. She also talked about other issues.

"There are lots of ditches with water coming in, erosion in fields and eroded stream banks in many locations," she stated.

In looking at the entire watershed they also found some abnormalities. Northeast of Greencastle near Heritage Lake the group discovered something they had never seen before.

They found lower levels of pollution despite this being an area that because of its location should not be in as good of shape as it is.

"There was a lot of conservation taking place in this area already," said Hoffman. "DNR Nature Preserves and the Central Indiana Land Trust have protected land with wetland protection and buffered streams. These were all making a big difference in this area."

The study ended with recommendations that include reduction in pollution, water quality improvement, planning and development and public education

"We need landowners now to help with conservation," she said.

Additional grants have been applied for explained Hoffman.

"These will bring more conservation funds into Putnam County," she added.

The second speaker at the meeting was Kevin Orpurt, WTHI-TV weatherman who claims to forecast by using weather signs.

"I learned this from my grandmother when I was a little boy," he explained. "When there is a ring around the moon, she used to say rain was coming. If the birds were flying low to the ground, it was going to storm."

Orpurt also reads the Farmers Almanac and believes it has a lot of great information. He says he wants to teach young people to, "get off the computers and watch the sky and behavior of animals."

At the meeting, the Woodland Conservationist of the Year Award was presented to Robert, Steve and Chris Pickett, owners of R & D Pickett Farms in Clinton Township, for their woodland management.

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