Conservation education is part of the mission of the Ferry Conservation District.  To that end, we write a regular column for the Ferry County View, our local newspaper, covering a variety of subjects related to conservation.  Following are the articles which have appeared in the View since September, 2014.             Follow the underlined links for the complete articles.

Bluebird Nesting Boxes –

Spruce up your old boxes (and make some new ones)

in preparation for spring

 

The 25th annual Spring Conservation Fair is fast approaching!   The popular bluebird nesting box building project will again be a featured activity at this April 13th event.    Each year, Curlew Job Corps Carpentry students provide precut pieces for bird boxes and assist children in assembling them.  Over the years, hundreds of kids have gone home from the fair with bluebird houses they can proudly say that they While the ease of construction makes this activity a natural and fun choice for a children’s activity, the resulting nesting boxes also address an important conservation issue... Continue reading...

2019 Spring Plant Sale

Ferry Conservation District Event to Offer Natives, Fruit Trees,

Berries, Grapes and other Edibles

 

 

Planting trees, shrubs and berries on your property provides multiple benefits.  Plants will beautify your property and add to its value.  The foliage and fruits of plants provide food for wildlife and for your family.  Flowering shrubs attract pollinators, such as butterflies and bees, enhancing the entire ecosystem.  Trees can provide shade or act as a windbreak.  Reforestation trees enhance the landscape and provide timber and firewood for harvest in the future.  Planting in riparian areas (river and stream banks and lakeshore) helps protect the banks, preventing erosion and degradation of water quality...Continue reading...

The Black Cottonwood -

Mainstay of a Healthy Riparian Zone

 

Found in great numbers up and down the banks of the Kettle and Sanpoil Rivers (and their tributaries) is a tall, rough-barked, deciduous tree.  This tree, the black cottonwood (Populus balsamifera ssp trichocarpa), is a member of the willow family and a close relative of the quaking aspen.    While various species of cottonwood are found in most the United States, the range of this species extends from Alaska to the Baja Peninsula and from the Pacific coast inland to Montana.   The tree is well known for its resinous, sweet-smelling buds, its fuzzy fruit and cottony white fluff (hence the name) which blows down from the tree in the spring wind like snow... Continue reading...

Renewable Energy Incentive 

Washington State offers Program to Encourage Renewables

 

Have you ever considered generating your own electricity with solar panels, wind mills or anaerobic digesters? Now may be a good time for taking this step. The State of Washington is offering a new incentive program for renewable energy systems. While there has been a renewable energy incentive program in effect in the state for several years, its term is coming to an end and being replaced by this new program. Signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee in July 2017, the program provides incentive payments for homeowners, as well as commercial and community energy consumers. Homeowners who wish to install renewable energy systems under this new...Continue reading...

2018 Spring Plant Sale

 

Ferry Conservation District Event to Offer Natives, Ornamentals,

 and Edibles

Planting trees, shrubs and berries on your property provides multiple benefits.  Plants will beautify your property and add to its value.  The foliage and fruits of plants provide food for wildlife and for your family.  Flowering shrubs attract pollinators, such as butterflies and bees, enhancing the entire ecosystem.  Trees can provide shade or act as a windbreak.  Reforestation trees enhance the landscape and provide timber and firewood for harvest in the future.  Planting in riparian areas (river and stream banks) helps protect river and stream banks, preventing erosion and degradation of water quality. Continue reading...

The Superlative Quaking Aspen

 

What is both the largest and the oldest living thing on Earth?  The majestic blue whale may be huge and the ancient and gnarly bristle cone pine may be ancient, but neither can hold a candle to the humble quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) in the categories of size and age.

Though the largest individual aspen tree might only reach a modest 100 feet in height, each stem grows as part of a single genetically identical clone, an interconnected root mass with multiple stems.  Continue reading...

Ferry Conservation District's Firewise Program is a Success

 

As the weather gets hotter and drier, our attention naturally turns to fire season.  Recent smoky skies are reminiscent of the late summer of 2015, when the Northstar Fire threatened Republic from the south and the Stickpin Fire Complex burned thousands of acres to the north and east of town.  Here in Ferry County, we were luckier then residents of nearby Okanogan and Chelan Counties, as we escaped without human injury or damage to dwellings.  The memory of that near miss motivated many Ferry County residents to participate in the Firewise program recently offered by the Ferry Conservation District (FCD).   Continue reading...

It's Tick Season

The weather has warmed and the snow is long-gone except on the highest peaks.   It’s the season to work in the yard, walk on the property, take the kids on a hike or a bike ride.  Unfortunately, we humans are not the only ones becoming more active as spring progresses.  The ticks are out, too, and boy, are they hungry!  Continue reading...
 

Ferry Conservation District to Offer Free Firewise Workshops

March 2 and 15,  April 22 
 
Eastern Washington has experienced many large wildfires over the last three years, including several which destroyed numerous homes and one which took 3 firefighters’ lives.  With snow still on the ground and ice remaining on lakes and ponds, the hot, dry fire weather of July and August seems far away.  However, it is never too early to begin thinking about and preparing for the next fire. And, there is much to think about. Continue reading...

2017 Spring Plant Sale

Ferry Conservation District Event to Offer Natives, Ornamentals

and Edibles

Planting trees, shrubs and berries on your property provides multiple benefits.  Plants will beautify your property and add to its value.  The foliage and fruits of plants provide food for wildlife and for your family.  Flowering shrubs attract pollinators, such as butterflies and bees, enhancing the entire ecosystem.  Trees can provide shade or act as a windbreak.  Reforestation trees enhance the landscape and provide timber and firewood for harvest in the future.  Planting in riparian areas (river and stream banks) helps protect river and stream banks, preventing erosion and degradation of water quality.  Continue reading...

Tour Participants Learn Best Range Practices

On June 16th, ranch operators and agency people toured the Strandberg Ranch in Malo to learn more about range management practices. The tour was organized by WSU Ferry County Extension, Ferry Conservation District, USDA NRCS, the US Forest Service, WA Fish & Wildlife, and Ferry County Cattlemen.  On the tour, attendees learned about best management practices for sustainable grazing, Continue...

 

Choose your Fuel Wisely

Conservation Considerations for Home Heating

 

Last winter, we wrote about a number of relatively easy steps you could take to conserve energy and money while staying warm and cozy in your house.  Hopefully you have incorporated a few of those ideas and you are now looking for more ways to conserve. 

 

Perhaps you are considering retrofitting your heating system, or you will be building a new house and choosing a heating method. Continue...

Tree Pests and Diseases in Ferry County

 

                          Diseases and Insect Pests in our Local Forests – Do I Need to Worry about my Trees?

Pine trees are dying by the thousands in the American West.  Responsible for this devastation is a small insect known as the mountain pine beetle.  This beetle burrows into tree phloem, the inner bark tissue, and lays its eggs.  Larvae hatch from the eggs, and tunnel throughout the phloem, essentially girdling the tree and killing it.  Continue...

Conservation District Co-Hosts Low-Stress and Holistic

Livestock Management Workshop

 

From the 1950s until his death in 2012, Alberta rancher Bud Williams revolutionized the field of livestock management, developing innovative methods which make the job easier, cause less stress to the cattle, help ranchers reduce threats from predators and improve rangeland health. Williams, recognized as a leader in this field, traveled throughout North and Central America, spreading his message to other ranchers. Continue...

Ferry Conservation District to Offer Native, Ornamental and Edibles at 2016 Plant Sale

 

Planting trees, shrubs and berries on your property provides multiple benefits.  Plants will beautify your property and add to its value.  The foliage and fruits of plants provide food for wildlife and for your family.  Flowering shrubs attract pollinators, such as butterflies and bees, enhancing the entire ecosystem.  Trees can provide shade or act as a windbreak.  Reforestation trees enhance the landscape and provide timber and firewood for harvest in the future.  Planting in riparian areas (river and stream banks) helps protect river and stream banks, preventing erosion and degradation of water quality. Continue...

 

 

Water Forecasting - Sentinel Butte Snotel Rebuilt

 

The Stickpin Fire destroyed the Sentinel Butte SNOTEL, located at the headwaters of Boulder and Deer Creeks in Northern Ferry County, on August 14, 2015.   

 

SNOTEL, or Snowpack Telemetry, is a remote, automated, water forecasting system.    A typical SNOTEL site consists of solar powered measuring devices and sensors, a shelter to house the radio telemetry equipment, and an antenna that transmits and receives data. Originally constructed in 2003, the Sentinel Butte Snotel was recently reconstructed by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Data transmission resumed on November 5th. Continue... 

  

 

 

Garden Soil Analysis Available at the Conservation District

 

The soil in a virgin forest or grassland, never tilled by humans, is full of nutrients: minerals released from native rocks, decomposed plant and animal matter, and nutrients from flood deposits.  These nutrients have been used for millennia by the native flora and fauna, and then recycled back into the soil.  Human agriculture, however, breaks this nutrient cycle, as crops (containing the nutrients) are removed and consumed.  If the proper steps are not taken, the soil will become nutrient poor and harvests will become smaller. . Continue...

Ferry Conservation District Announces New Grant Program

to Fund Riparian Protection Projects

Do you live alongside a stream or a lake?  If so,you have riparian areas on your property. According to the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society:  “Riparian areas are the lands adjacent to streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands, where the vegetation and soils are among the most productive and valuable of all landscape types ...”  Continue...

 

 

 

Ferry Conservation District Long-Term Plan

 

After a series of four public meetings and much brainstorming, discussion, and debate, the Ferry Conservation District (FCD) Board of Supervisors, along with District staff, has issued a final draft of a 5-Year Plan for the District.  The purpose of this plan is to guide the work of the FCD over the next five years, matching the District’s programs to its mission, vision and values. Continue...

 

Managing your Property for Native Pollinators

 

In the last Conservation Corner, we discussed the role of pollination in the production of certain types of fruit. This time, we will broaden our focus and report on the overall importance of pollination and on the threats facing the pollinators who carry out the process.

 

Pollinators are animals, primarily insects, who move pollen from the male part of a plant (anther) to the female part of the plant (stigma) or another of the same species. This service provided by the pollinator results in the production of seed and in turn aids in the propagation of that plant.  Continue...

 

 

Pay Attention to Fruit Tree Pollination Requirements

 

To many people, the word “pollen” brings to mind the misery of allergy season: itchy eyes, sneezing and runny nose.  A world without pollen would be heavenly, it would seem, for allergy sufferers.   However, without pollen many plants would not be able to produce the seeds and fruit that humans and other animals rely on for sustenance.  Without pollen, these plants could not reproduce and pass on their genes.

 

In most plants, the male part of the flower, the stamen, produces the powdery pollen containing the male gamete. This substance must find its way to the female part of the flower, the pistil.  The pollen then travels to the base of the pistil entering the ovary, where it fertilizes the ovum or female gamete.  Fertilization of the ovum initiates the formation of the seed of the plant.  The ovary, surrounding the ovum or seed then begins to mature and toughen, eventually becoming the fruit of the plant.  Continue...

 

Fruit Tree Questions and Answers

 

Every year county residents add dozens of fruit trees to their orchards through the Ferry Conservation District plant sale.  Here we address three of the most common questions the District has received this year from owners about their new trees.  Continue...

 

Ferry Conservation District to offer Natives,

Ornamentals, and Edibles at 2015 Plant Sale

 

Planting trees, shrubs and berries on your property provides multiple benefits.  Plants will beautify your property and add to its value.  The foliage, fruits, and nuts of plants provide food for wildlife and for your family.  Flowering shrubs attract pollinators, such as butterflies and bees, enhancing the entire ecosystem.    Continue...

 

Easy, Low-Cost Ways to Save Energy

 

Brrrr… The warm fall weather has ended and the home heating season is in full swing. This is a good time of the year to be thinking about saving energy.   Whether your heat source is electricity, firewood, pellets, heating oil or propane, the more of it you use to stay warm, the more it costs, in dollars and/or muscle power.  Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can save money and effort, as well as conserve natural resources and shrink your carbon footprint.

 

Though saving energy by undertaking major retrofitting of your house and heating system may be something to consider in the future, this article will focus on ways you can cut your usage with minimal effort and very little monetary outlay.  Continue...

 

Seed to Soil

 

Many kinds of activity on your property, including logging, road-building, construction, or wildfire, can disturb the ground, resulting in bare soil.  Given enough time, nature will revegetate this disturbed area.  However, before the natural revegetation occurs, some less desirable things may happen. 

 

Noxious weeds are very likely to move in quickly and fill the disturbed area.  Not only will these plants compete with more desirable native plants, but many are toxic to livestock and most are hard to get rid of.  Continue...

 

 

 

What is the Ferry Conservation District?

 

In the early 1930’s, following a severe and sustained drought in the Great Plains, that region’s soil began to erode and blow away.   This was the environmental disaster we know as the Dust Bowl.  The dust storms reached from Texas and to New York.  Dust was even reported sifting into the White House and onto the desk of Franklin D. Roosevelt.   As a result of the Dust Bowl, Congress passed legislation declaring soil and water conservation a national policy and priority.  However, Congress knew the only way to ensure that conservation work was successful would be to enlist active, voluntary support from private landowners.

 

President Roosevelt wrote the governors of all the states recommending  legislation that would allow local landowners to form soil conservation districts and even developed draft legislation (Standard States District Act)  for each state.  Continue...

Be Prepared in the Event of Fire

 

The Carlton Complex Fire is over 90% contained.  Most folks in Okanogan County can breathe a sigh of relief and begin to pick up the pieces.  Unfortunately, a number of residents have very few pieces to pick up.  This devastating fire, the biggest in Washington’s history, has consumed more than 300 homes and innumerable outbuildings. Continue...