Thursday, December 20, 2012

Plowed Paradise

Will a new "Dust Bowl" form from increased tillage of farmland? With crop prices at record levels, more land is being converted from "untilled" to "planted". Planted in itself does not cause dust bowls, but leaving land void of grasses and other natural covers throughout the year, in great numbers, will do just that. We are seeing more and more trees (shelterbelts and tree groves/rows) and grasslands being removed due to the need for more croplands to take advantage of the high commodity prices. I have personally witnessed perfectly "great" shrub and tree plantings dozed over and piled into heaps only to make more room for those "cash crops".
One of the conservation organizations I support, Pheasants Forever, works very hard to promote and implement proper land stewarship. Consider this recent piece from the editor of the Pheasants Forever Journal:


National View

By Howard K. Vincent, CEO & President
Plowed Paradise

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

–Big Yellow Taxi (1970), Joni Mitchell  
It was recently reported that between 2008 and 2011, over 37,000 SQUARE MILES of grasslands, wetlands and shrubland were converted to crop in the United States. Not hard to understand when corn is selling for $8-9/bushel and there’s over 7 billion people to feed on Earth.

Likewise, it isn’t hard to fathom why the Natural Resources Conservation Service recently held a session to discuss the possibility of a new Dust Bowl arising due to the nationwide drought and large increase in tilled land.

Consider, for example, this recent firsthand account of South Dakota’s John Pollmann in Minnesota’s

Outdoor News weekly newspaper (a longtime PF supporter and partner): "There are new signs of change here on the prairie. Like the piles of dirt stacked up alongside recently trenched waterways, the surrounding cattails — once a winter home for pheasant and pheasant hunter alike — burned and ready for the tile plow.

Speaking of which, there are miles of the black, perforated plastic tubing stacked up along field edges and farmyards, not to mention what already has been put in the ground: There were 1 million feet of drainage tile installed in Lake County last year alone.

Where native pasture once met a meandering creek, now sits freshly plowed black dirt, balancing precariously on the edge between production and erosion.

And slash piles of trees seem to be stacked in every section — elm, ash and box elders long ago planted to protect the well being of South Dakota pioneers — now laid bare … ."

On the habitat investment side of the equation, things are wanting. Take, for example, that conservation programs account for only 1.7 percent of the federal budget — including the National Park Service and conservation programs in the Farm Bill.

If you ever needed an excuse to get more involved in supporting Pheasants Forever (read about the many opportunities in this issue and on our website), the above information is it. We’re not asking for the moon on conservation spending in these economic tight times with a huge federal debt, but there’s ample evidence a crisis is looming for our soil, water, wildlife and hunting heritage and right now saving these vital natural resources should be a larger national priority. Another important action to take to impact conservation is to vote November 6 for candidates that support PF’s habitat work and wildlife conservation goals.

/ P H E A S A N T S F O R E V E R • w w w. p h e a s a n t s f o r e v e r . o r g

Real Christmas Trees Way to Go!

Why do most people put up a "fake" Christmas tree? Mostly for convenience.
Some people also say they are allergic to trees in the house. However, nothgin beats the aroma
and allure of the real tree in the house for Christmas.