Champions of Conservation
The Spokane Conservation District designates individuals or organizations as Champions of Conservation to highlight their commitment to natural resources. Champions of Conservation are recognized at the SCD Annual Meeting in the Fall. To become a Champion of Conservation, the person or organization must demonstrate a passion for natural resources or a specific resource such as soil or forestry, and motivate their peers to value these resources. Champions of Conservation are selected by SCD staff, but suggestions can be informally sent to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Below are some great stories of some current Champions of Conservation.
Craig Volosing, Our First Livestock & Land Peer Leader
Hidden Meadows Ranch is 350 acre ranch established in 1976 and is nestled among the pines just west of the City of Spokane at 520 Grove Rd. The ranch is owned and operated by Craig Volosing and Karen Stevenson. The ranch produces approximately 40 head of beef cattle as well as 18 to 24 Quarter Horses for breeding, training, and ranch use.
Craig and Karen raise natural healthy, grass-fed beef for their customers and realize the importance of rotational grazing. In the spring, summer, and fall the animals are rotated through 300 acres of lush pastures. During the winter months, the animals are confined to sacrifice areas and fed high quality hay. As with any ranching operation, these confinement areas can become challenging to manage during the dark and wet months. Completing chores and moving animals in muddy conditions mixed with manure is never a pleasant task. The deep mud makes manure collection almost impossible. Craig was looking for a better way to manage this issue and also be attentive of protecting water quality in the area.
In 2013, Craig began working with the Spokane Conservation District’s (SCD) Livestock & Land Program. He completed two different Best Management Practices (BMP) to improve his operation and mud management. With the help of the SCD, Craig added a better footing material to his winter enclosure through the installation of a Heavy Use Area (HUA). The HUA incorporates layers of gravel/rock underlain by a geotextile fabric to help with water drainage. The 3”minus rock material allows for steady dry footing and “easy manure pick-up”. Craig completed a second project in August of 2014. He constructed a state of the art aerated four-bay waste storage facility (designed by O2 Compost) that will accelerate the normal manure composting process.
Craig is excited about the future for the finished compost. He plans to fertilize his pastures and improve the grass production. Craig stated, “This O2 Compost system is an ideal way for us to manage our manure output; by turning it into both savings on fertilizer and by creating another cash crop for our operation.” Craig believes the new composting facility may pay for itself within 10 years. He intends to sell any remaining compost product to help recoup his construction costs. “This product is a valuable resource and one that folks seek for their gardens and lawns.” Craig plans to help neighboring horse farms with their manure management by allowing them to bring manure to him.
Craig is proud of these new livestock facility improvements. As past president of the Inland Empire Backcountry Horsemen’s Association, Craig wants to illustrate his strong watershed stewardship ethic and strives to be an environmental leader in the local livestock community. Craig’s BMP installations will provide a water quality benefit. Although his property doesn’t have any lakes or streams on it, Craig is ever mindful of his proximity to the Spokane River. “I prefer to be part of the solution rather than the problem. This is important to me”.
Want to Know More?
If you are interested in getting more specific information about Craig’s BMPs, please consult the SCD for a schedule of upcoming tours. Craig will also make himself available to discuss the projects over the phone or even make an appointment for a visit to the ranch. His phone number is (509) 747-5273.
How the Livestock and Land Program Works.
The Spokane Conservation District Livestock & Land Program provides “no obligation” BMP recommendations and financial assistance, in the form of cost-share grants and low-interest loans, to landowners to improve their livestock operations and protect local water quality. The funding is made available through a Washington State Department of Ecology Grant (# L1400021).
Applicants who meet eligibility requirements can get grants that typically cover 50 to 75 percent of the project cost. Loans range from 3-5 percent and are based on household income levels. A typical loan would be for five years and must be utilized to fund best management practices. Combination grant/loan projects are also possible. Cost-share rates vary for specific Best Management Practices and are subject to available funding. Check with the Spokane Conservation District for current availability.
Nancy MacKerrow & The Susie Forest
The Susie Forest is a living, growing legacy to Susie Stephens, the daughter of Nancy MacKerrow. Susie was a bicyclist, an environmentalist, an activist and a world traveler who was dedicated to educating others about bicyclist and pedestrian safety. Susie was killed in 2002 after being struck by a bus while using a crosswalk to cross the street in St. Louis.
Nancy started The Susie Forest for three reasons:
1. To plant trees
2. To encourage others to plant trees
3. To education people, especially children, about the importance and benefits of trees
Each tree planted in The Susie Forest is a reminder that life goes on and starts anew. Except for the two trees planted every year, one on Susie’s birthday and one on the anniversary of her death, every tree planted is associated with someone else. Whether it is to celebrate the birth of a newborn or a special anniversary, as a memorial of someone who has passed, or to celebrate a reading program at a local library or school, each Susie Tree is deeply rooted in personal connection. The Susie Forest started out small- just three trees planted in 2003. Since then, it has grown to over 100 trees and not just in Spokane, but all over the world.
Nancy works closely with Reforest Spokane, a program of the Spokane Parks Foundation, and some of the Susie Trees are planted as street trees, which are desperately needed in our area. Most of the trees have been planted in public parks, at libraries and other public sites, and on private property. Just as Susie traveled the world, The Susie Forest has gone national & global! There are now Susie Trees planted in Washington D.C. and as far away as New Zealand and Iran.
More information about The Susie Forest and a blog written by Nancy about the various plantings, and a map of all of the Susie Trees throughout the Spokane area can be found at their website https://susieforest.com/