Letter to the Editor

Celebrate Soil and Water Stewardship Week

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

To the Editor:

As president of the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD), I would like to invite all Indiana residents to join our 92 county Soil and Water Conservation Districts in observing National Soil and Water Stewardship Week, April 24 through May 1.

This year the theme is "Forests for people ... more than you can imagine." Indiana is blessed with nearly 4 million acres of forestland that is among the most productive and diverse in the world. The range of environmental, recreational and economic benefits our forests provide is tremendously important to our quality of life.

It has never been more important to support and practice forest stewardship to insure the sustainability of our forest ecosystems. The majority of Indiana woodlands are privately owned, of which only 10 percent benefit from an active management plan.

Within the next 20 years, seven percent of our forest inventory will be lost as a result of the destruction caused by the Emerald Ash Borer, a green beetle native to Asia. This invasive insect has been, and will continue to be, particularly devastating to urban ash trees. This is just one of a host of invasive plant and animal species seriously threatening the health, productivity and integrity of our forests.

Sustainability is not the goal of natural resource stewardship; it is a minimum standard that must be attained if future generations are to enjoy our now-diminishing resources. Stewardship is ultimately a reflection of our culture's relationship to the natural world we inhabit, and the measure of our gratitude and reverence for how it informs and enriches our existence.

In observing Soil and Water Stewardship Week, I challenge each person think about the natural resource legacy they will leave to their children and the role they might play towards restoration, enhancement and conservation.

If you have an interest in becoming involved, the opportunity is as close as your local SWCD. Many districts offer tree sales throughout the year. Why not honor our state's natural heritage and plant some of Indiana's native trees at home, along a stream, at a local park, church, day care center or nursing home?

Become a volunteer for your SWCD. Their locally led programs need the knowledge, skills and resources you can bring to the table. Go to http://www.iaswcd.org/pdfs/IndianaSWCDoffices2011.pdf or call 317.692.7325 to locate the SWCD in your county.

Natural resource stewardship makes life more abundant for all living things.

Ray McCormick

President, Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts