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Earth Day 2012: The Difference is in Your Hands

story by Jaime Tankersley

In a day of instant messages, internet anywhere, and smart phone sales reaching nearly 495 million last year, it is easy to forget that it takes 100 years to make an inch of soil. Soil is just one of the precious resources the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) sets out to conserve every day.The difference is in your hands - Earth day April 22 -poster

NRCS was born out of the worst environmental disaster in our nation's history - the Dust Bowl. In the early 1930s, due to increased cultivation, drought and record breaking temperatures, millions of acres of soil from Colorado to Texas literally blew away.

As massive dust storms ravaged the country, leaving despair in the hearts of the nation's farmers, NRCS began working with the people to improve and protect their soil, water, and other natural resources. For decades, private landowners have voluntarily worked with NRCS specialists to prevent erosion, improve water quality, and promote sustainable agriculture.

NRCS was initially focused on preventing soil erosion on America's farmland. Over the years Americans have become concerned with a broader array of natural resource issues. In response, NRCS has broadened its technical services in order to provide science-based solutions to address America's ever-changing environmental concerns. While farmers and ranchers remain the primary customers of NRCS, the agency also provides technical assistance to city planners, watershed groups, state and local governments, and civic organizations.

Through the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill), conservation programs are established to not only keep our rich, agricultural soil from blowing away again, but also to keep it from flowing away, along with phosphorus and other nutrients, into our rivers and streams.

Through their conservation efforts, the owners and managers of lands in Texas provide a wealth of environmental and social benefits to all. These include clean water and air, healthy wildlife habitat, open space, food and fiber, and sustainable rural and urban communities. The NRCS will continue to provide grassroots input to the local population, and establish unique partnerships that will endorse positive actions making everyday Earth Day for our agency.

This year, as we celebrate Earth Day, we encourage you to adopt a new conservation habit that will leave Mother Earth better then how you found it. It can be something as simple as conserving water by buying low-flow and water efficient appliances or quickly repairing leaky pipes and faucets. You can save money and help conserve the most vital substance on our planet.

Conservation starts with each of us. It is up to each one of us to make a difference in conserving and preserving our earth. The difference is in your hands.