Department of Ecology News Release - May 2, 2014

Film fest highlights conservation on agricultural lands
River Restoration Northwest to screen “Stories of our Watersheds”

SPOKANE – Eastern Washington landowners will be highlighted for their work to conserve natural resources while maintaining viable agriculture production at an upcoming film festival in Portland, Ore.

Two videos submitted by Washington state conservation districts will screen on May 7 at the event “Stories of our Watersheds” hosted by River Restoration Northwest.

“We’re proud of our partners and glad they’re getting recognized for some great work,” said Chad Atkins, water quality specialist. “These videos show how landowners are making a real difference in their communities and Washington. They’re proving that a healthy agricultural industry and clean water can go hand in hand.”

In candid interviews, local farmers and livestock owners describe how the conservation district helped them implement practices that improve water quality, protect steelhead, and conserve resources for future generations. Asotin County Conservation District produced a video with examples of land use practices that balance the goals of agriculture with natural resource conservation.

Conservation programs have helped landowners plant more than 200,000 trees at 31 restoration sites in the Asotin Creek watershed since 1998. The Tenmile Creek, Couse Creek and Grande Ronde River watersheds in Asotin County have also received extensive restoration.

Large-tract farmers discuss the value of sustainable practices that protect topsoil in the video from Spokane Conservation and Palouse-Rock Lake Conservation Districts. Farmers affirm that the health of their soil improves when transitioning from conventional tillage practices to direct-seed and no-till equipment, which significantly reduces erosion and nutrient runoff.

Farming practices in the Hangman and Palouse watersheds have significantly improved, reducing loss of soil through erosion since it was first farmed in the 1800s.

Direct-seed and no-till equipment are one of the top practices for preventing soil erosion by saving several tons per acre of soil from leaving farms, entering rivers and causing pollution problems.

Ecology paid for production of the educational videos through an annual grant program using the Centennial Clean Water fund.

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Contacts:

Brook Beeler, Washington Department of Ecology, 509-329-3478, and @ecyspokane

Sandy Cunningham, Asotin County Conservation District, 509-758-8012

Jim Armstrong, Spokane Conservation District, 509-535-7274, and @SpokaneConserve