Alabama Chapter of SWCS Holds Annual Meeting in Huntsville
Group visited a climate station at Alabama A&M Experiment Station.
By Fay Garner, Public Affairs Specialist, NRCS, Auburn, AL
The annual meeting of the Alabama Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) was held in Huntsville, June 9-11, 2010, at the Holiday Inn Research Park. The theme was “Managing Our Soil and Water Resources.” The meeting provided members and guests with information about water laws and regulations, soils data, managing water and stormwater, and other natural resource subjects.
The meeting opened on Wednesday afternoon with outgoing Alabama SWCS Chapter President Perry Oaks introducing Don Dukemineer, Convention Sales Manager of the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau, who welcomed the group to Huntsville.
The afternoon sessions were moderated by Chapter President Renea Dyer and featured speakers from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Geological Survey of Alabama, Assistant Attorney General for State Geologist of Alabama, and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). The topics included managing soil and water, aquifers and water supplies in Alabama, laws and policy of water resources, and water regulations.
On Thursday morning the attendees boarded two buses for a field tour. Sites included bridge construction on Highway 231 and the Alabama A&M Experiment Station to a see a rainwater harvesting irrigation system, growing shitake mushrooms and specialty crops, and viewing a soil pit and soil climate station. At a stop at the Bragg Farm the attendees were awed by the magnitude of a 10 acre reservoir being built for irrigation water using financial assistance from the USDA-NRCS Agricultural Water Enhancement Program. The last stop before lunch included a visit to the North Huntsville Industrial Park to view water management structures and some braved the steamy weather to stroll along a nature walking trail to view other conservation measures.
At the Belle Mina Experiment Station, the group enjoyed a boxed sandwich lunch before viewing precision agriculture, residue management, and crop rotations. After leaving the experiment station, the group viewed a local farmer’s cotton crop that was planted into burned down clover, a Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) project on the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge that is used to manage and protect waterfowl, and a construction site on the Alabama A&M campus.
After returning to the hotel to attend committee meetings and to freshen up, the attendees traveled back to Alabama A&M for a catfish dinner with all the trimmings cooked by Milton and Henrietta Taylor. After dinner, the group enjoyed popcorn and candy while viewing a film called “Dirt-The Movie.”
At the Alabama Chapter business meeting on Friday, the officers for FY2011 were announced. Brian Lessiter from the Alabama Department of Transportation was named president elect, Josh Elliott from NRCS-secretary, and Lea Duzy from USDA-ARS-treasurer.
The late morning technical sessions included a presentation about using and finding soils data, better grass establishment on highway rights-of-way, construction stormwater management, and TVA property management.
The annual meeting holds a silent auction at the meeting each year to benefit the student chapters from across the state. This year’s auction brought in $240.
The Alabama Chapter of SWCS was a success and all enjoyed the 3-days of training and networking. Next year’s annual meeting will be held in the Mobile area.
Visit the Alabama Chapter of the SWCS website for more information.
At Alabama A&M Experiment Station the attendees saw a rainwater harvesting irrigation system.
Group stops to view Alabama Department of Transportation bridge construction on Highway 231in Huntsville.