Thursday, December 22, 2011
Steamboat Springs Everyone is busy making plans for the holiday season, and this time of year can be hectic to say the least. So once it calms down, think about next year. I think that the new year is the best time to plan for summer. After all, we are making our New Year’s resolutions, so why not take it a step further and make plans for your land or property? The sky’s the limit, and your dreams are limited only by you, so if you live in town, maybe you might want to try to be more self-sufficient and plant your own garden, participate in the community garden or try your hand at raising chickens so you have fresh eggs. Picture yourself building that garden or chicken house. What would it look like? What kinds of plants would be in your garden? What type of chickens would you raise? How about getting some goats and making your own cheese or letting them graze your lawn instead of mowing? Now you have more opportunities than ever to live off the land, even on a small scale. Dreams are a lot different than reality, so don’t forget about that planning part. Making a solid plan includes cost information, permit requirements and educating yourself on the practice you wish to undertake. You may find that you have to make your dreams come true one step at a time.
At the Natural Resources Conservation Service, we think on a bigger scale, and our job is to use our knowledge and experience to help private landowners achieve these goals. Our federal dollars are spent on private landowners (farmers or ranchers) that want to make improvements to their properties. These can be small improvements such as building a livestock watering pond or big improvements such as changing your current irrigation system from wild flood to center pivot to improve irrigation watering efficiency. Of course, these types of projects take some planning. I always ask people, what do you want your place to look like in five years? What about 10 years?
It’s not difficult getting landowners to tell us what their dreams are for the property. The hard part is pinning down what they want to do first and whether they can afford it. There are opportunities for financial assistance to assist private landowners and put conservation dollars on the ground.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture also is going through some long-term planning. The 2012 Farm Bill Committee is in the process of reviewing the Farm Bill and deciding what changes need to made. Now is the time for landowners to voice their concerns. What is working? What isn’t? How should the USDA be doing things differently? If you have ideas, contact your local representative and let him/her know what issues concern you. Farm bills are approved for a 10-year period, so this is the best time to make a difference in USDA policy.
Lori Jazwick is a district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. She can be reached at 970-879-3225.