NAME, LOCATION, TYPE OF OPERATION
Lee Raine and Mike Laughlin
SUMMARY OF HOW YOUR NOMINEE SHINES AS ONE OF THE BEST CONSERVATIONISTS IN YOUR STATE, WITH A FEW SPECIFIC EXAMPLES
After purchasing their small ranch in 2004, Lee and Mike began actively applying conservation measures to improve their 40 acres of native meadow pasture. They immediately became cooperators with the Lamoille Conservation District, and worked with NRCS to develop a conservation plan to address several resource concerns. Their conservation plan includes prescribed grazing, irrigation water management, integrated pest management, and critical area planting. They applied for and received an EQIP contract to implement integrated pest management practices, install fencing, and develop livestock watering facilities. Lee and Mike cross-fenced their land into 5 pastures for a rotational grazing system, and installed three water developments. By implementing a grazing management plan, they increased production of forage species for both wildlife and livestock on the native meadow and surrounding rangelands. “We fenced off a spring that had been heavily impacted by livestock and the spring has come back and is running water,” said Mike. “Our primary goal with our pastures is to increase native grasses for livestock grazing and wildlife.”
Their biggest resource concern was a major infestation of an invasive weed species, leafy spurge. Lee and Mike agreed to be a project location for release of the Aphthona flea beetle and a species of the Oberea beetle. Now in their second year, the beetles have already reduced the leafy spurge by 30 percent. Due to the success with this project, Lee and Mike have become weed warriors, encouraging their neighbors to control their weeds.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF HOW THE LANDOWNER HAS WORKED WITH NRCS EMPLOYEES TO ACHIEVE GOALS
Lee and Mike describe their working relationship with NRCS:
“We entered into an EQIP program contract with the NRCS in 2004. Our first involvement with NRCS was with Teri Johnson and Heather Steel. We outlined our program and goals with Teri and Heather, and they were very accommodating in helping us fill out the paperwork for our cost-share reimbursement. With the help of these two Nevada NRCS employees, we were able to complete our 5-year plan in just 3 years.
Heather also helped us tackle our leafy spurge problem, and suggested trying biological control. She contacted the Nevada State Department of Agriculture and helped us obtain Aphthona beetles, which have been a big help in our fight to control leafy spurge on our ranch.
Heather suggested we contact the Nevada Department of Wildlife and sign up for their Landowner Incentive Program. Under that program, we planted aspen trees and honeysuckle bushes which will benefit wildlife on our ranch. In 2006, we fenced off the spring area from livestock and we planted the trees in May of 2007.”
CONTRIBUTION OF OTHER PARTNERS INVOLVED, IF ANY
Several partners are involved in the Aphthona beetle biological control project, including NRCS, Nevada Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Spring Creek Region Cooperative Weed Management Area, Lamoille Conservation District, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, and the U.S. Forest Service. This project is in its second year and the leafy spurge infestation has already been reduced by 30 percent. Lee and Mike are very excited and proud to see the results of the second generation of beetles and the increased abundance of healthy lush grasses in the pastures.
In addition to their biological weed control project, Lee and Mike cooperated with the Nevada Department of Wildlife to plant trees and shrubs around a spring that was historically over-utilized by the previous owners. They also reseeded using an upland wildlife species mixture. They are hopeful that the plantings will provide valuable wildlife habitat. For the first time in at least four years, Sandhill Cranes are nesting near the spring.
Lee and Mike have applied a prescribed grazing system, livestock watering developments, integrated pest management, and critical area planting. All of these were able to solve the resource concerns of eradicating an invasive species, providing nesting sites for wildlife, and implementing a grazing system for their livestock. They implemented their 5-year conservation plan in three years.
A PHOTO OF THE LANDOWNER
||Heather Steel, Range Management Specialist, Elko, Nevada, (775) 738-8431
||Teri Johnson, Administrative Assistant, Elko, Nevada, (775) 738-8431
||Liz Warner, Public Affairs Specialist, Reno, Nevada, (775) 857-8500 x 105