2017 Cooperator of the Year: Robert D. Stockman (right)
2017 Cooperator of the Year: Roger L. Ross (left)
Columbia, SC--Robert D. Stockman of Cedar Valley Farms (Richland County) and Roger L. Ross of R&G Enterprises (Kershaw County) have been named 2017 Conservation Cooperators of the Year by the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). Both farmers have partnered with the SWCD to protect and improve water quality in the Twenty-five Mile Creek Watershed by implementing conservation plans and installing best management practices (BMPs) on their cattle farms.
Stockman is a third generation Tookiedoo farmer who manages a herd of 150 Black Angus cows on 850 acres. Previously, these cattle were watering in Flat Branch and four ponds. With support from the Twenty-five Mile Creek Watershed project, Stockman constructed more than three miles of fencing to restrict the cows’ access to surface water, then installed more than a mile of pipeline and 10 troughs for livestock watering—no small task.
Ross grew up on a farm in the Tookiedoo community near Elgin and still works his family’s land. Originally, livestock on his farm were watering in two ponds and a spring head. With support from the Twenty-five Mile Creek Watershed project, Ross has constructed fencing around the ponds and wetlands to prevent livestock access and installed water pipelines and four water troughs to provide alternate water sources for his herd.
These BMPs will protect pond- and stream-banks from erosion and compaction, reduce the introduction of animal wastes to surface waters, and promote healthier pastures. Ultimately, these benefits should improve water quality in the Twenty-five Mile Creek Watershed, which includes portions of Blythewood, Pontiac, Elgin, and Lugoff. The Watershed is a conservation priority area because Twenty-five Mile Creek has been found by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control to experience periodically elevated bacteria levels and macro-invertebrate community impairments.
To address these issues, Richland, Kershaw, and Fairfield Counties and the Richland and Kershaw SWCDs coordinated funding from a Section 319 Grant and other sources to cover up to 70% of the cost of approved conservation practices on agricultural lands in the watershed. Since then, a Richland SWCD conservationist has worked with landowners to develop and implement eight conservation plans at six farms in the watershed. At the end of the three-year project later this year, landowners will have installed nearly six miles of fencing, six miles of water lines, and 28 alternate water sources to keep livestock out of streams and wetlands and improve grazing management.
“This [Twenty-five Mile Creek Watershed project] has been successful because of people like Bobby Stockman and Roger Ross,” says Richland SWCD Chairman Kenny Mullis. “These farmers were willing to do things differently, to voluntarily spend their time and their money to make changes to their operations that will ultimately benefit the environment. We appreciate their partnership and want to applaud their efforts.”
Both farmers were recognized at the Richland SWCD Annual Awards Banquet and a recent meeting of the Richland County Cattlemen’s Association.
For more information about the Twenty-five Mile Creek Watershed Water Quality Improvement Program, visit www.rcgov.us/twentyfivemile or contact Chanda Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conservation Districts are political subdivisions of state government under the local direction of five-member Boards of Commissioners. In South Carolina, Conservation District boundaries conform to County boundaries. The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District promotes the wise use of natural resources for the benefit of the citizens of Richland County.
Richland Soil and Water Conservation District
2020 Hampton Street, Room 3063A
Columbia, SC 29204
Phone (803) 576-2080
Fax (803) 576-2088