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Follow farmers' conservation example, project urges urban residents


News Release for Farm Press   United States Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service
P.O. Box 2890
Washington, DC 20013

Farmers and ranchers frequently get a lot of conservation advice from their city neighbors, but they don't often have an opportunity for urban and suburban residents to follow their lead when it comes to conservation on the ground.

Now, thanks to a new project called "Backyard Conservation," farmers and ranchers find themselves in the unique role of being conservation "teachers" to thousands of non-farm residents.

The centerpiece of the project is a free, 28-page booklet that outlines 10 conservation practices urban residents can put to work on their own property or in their neighborhoods--terracing, tree planting, composting, mulching, wildlife habitat, wetlands, ponds, water conservation, nutrient management, and pest management. The booklet also shows how those same conservation practices have been used on a larger scale in the countryside for decades.

By using these practices, backyard conservationists can provide important wildlife habitat while saving natural resources.

Three conservation organizations--the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), and the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC)--are asking homeowners and urban and suburban residents from coast to coast to make one million backyards a "friendlier place for nature."

"This project seeks the common ground of conservation for people everywhere," NRCS Chief Pearlie Reed said, "whether your backyard is a 500-acre farm or a flower box on your apartment balcony. All citizens can enjoy a healthier nation because of the successful conservation efforts of America's farmers and ranchers."

In addition to providing important wildlife habitat, the project's sponsors want to let non-farm audiences know about conservation progress in an effort to strengthen the link between agricultural and non-agricultural communities.

"There's a lot of conservation going on in the countryside," said NACD President Rudy Rice, "but most people don't recognize the practices. The Backyard Conservation project will help non-farm conservationists recognize and use a handful of the practices that are used by their country neighbors."

Single copies of the 28-page Backyard Conservation booklet are available free by calling (toll free) 1-888-LANDCARE.


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