Several area landowners were honored at the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District’s Conservation Awards dinner on Nov. 7. The annual event honors residents who have demonstrated leadership in the stewardship of local soil and water resources. The awards presented were Educator of the Year, Forest Stewardship, Wildlife, Clean Water Farm Awards in each of the District’s 5 member counties and Conservationist of the Year.

The Clean Water Farm Award Program recognizes farms in the commonwealth that utilize practices designed to protect water quality and soil resources.

The 2019 Greene County Clean Water Farm Award was given to Barbra J. Fried of Virginia Grassfed Beef. The farm maintains a herd of about 90 pairs on 200 acres of pasture, with the goal of grazing year-round without feeding hay. Last year they only fed hay for 45 days, and they are striving for even less this year. The farm has an additional 40 acres of forest land and riparian buffers which have been protected through 3 livestock stream exclusion projects with the District’s Virginia Best Management Practice Cost-Share Program. In 2016, the farm began the first livestock stream exclusion project with the District, and this year they finished the final phase, which excluded the livestock from all streams on the property. These projects created 21 acres of new riparian buffer along Buckner Run, the South River and the associated tributaries on the farm.

In total the farm has protected 16,310 feet of streambank and created new fields through the installation of permanent cross fence, an alternative water system and a stream crossing to connect the fields on either side of Buckner Run. Virginia Grassfed Beef utilizes a number of rotational grazing practices, including mob and strip grazing, to maintain and improve pasture and soil health and to maximize grazing efficiency. Their pasture management is well-thought out and flexible to the weather, forage availability, livestock and management needs. On average, each field has 55 days of rest and the farm manager uses the Pasture Map App to easily track pasture rest time and plan the upcoming rotations.

The 2019 Wildlife Habitat Award was given to Jimmy and Sally Hazel of The Preserve at South River. The Preserve is 275 acres of forest and open land on the South River. The property is a licensed game preserve with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. It is actively managed for wildlife habitat and some hunting occurs on the land. Virginia Working Landscapes at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute does regular wildlife surveys on the property for pollinators and birds. There are several food plots, two waterfowl ponds that are flooded seasonally for habitat purposes and two permanent ponds. After the floods of 2018, The Preserve completed 250 feet of stream restoration, restoring both the streambank and the aquatic habitat.

The 2019 Conservation Educator of the Year Award was given to the Old Rag Master Naturalists, a group of volunteers in Culpeper, Fauquier, Greene, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock counties. Old Rag Master Naturalists was formed in 2007 and currently has over 100 active members. Members of the group take a basic training course of lectures and field trips. To remain active they have to complete a minimum number of continuing education and volunteer hours. The district’s Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) program would not be possible without the volunteers of the Old Rag Master Naturalists. In particular, Bill Clark and Ken Cranston were recognized at the banquet. They have volunteered more than 300 hours with CSWCD.

The mission of Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District is to promote the stewardship of soil and water and the conservation of our natural resources by educating and providing technical assistance to manage, protect, and enhance the land and water for the benefit and enjoyment of the citizens of Culpeper, Greene, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock Counties.

Greene County is represented on the Culpeper Soil & Water Conservation District Board by Directors Phillip Morris and Robert Runkle, At-Large Director Steve Morris and Extension Agent Sarah Weaver Sharpe.

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