Conservation through cooperation
Posted: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 8:01 pm
By Leon Tillman
Special to The Messenger
Just south of Union City rests the nice, quiet town of Obion. Established in 1872, it is a rural community of about 1,137 residents. It is also the residence of the Windy Acres Farm of Marion Jones, which was experiencing erosion issues.
Ms. Jones initially contacted the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to address an area of erosion that was in the corner of another crop field adjacent to a drainage ditch that led into the town.
District Conservationist Matthew Denton of NRCS spoke with Ms. Jones regarding the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a federal program offered through the agency, which would fund 75 percent of the cost to install the practice that would address the erosion concern.
Denton proposed installing a cattle panel grade stabilization structure, which is a free flow structure that doesn’t catch water or sediment but greatly stabilizes the erosion site with geotextile fabric and rock.
After Ms. Jones agreed to the construction of the cattle panel, Denton was approached by a town representative who mentioned the possibility of a partnership with the town and using town and, possibly, county funds to assist in the construction of the structure; however the structure would have to be redesigned to retain the water and sediment in the form of a water and sediment control basin.
A town meeting was convened and the council voted to change the structure from a cattle panel to a water sediment control basin. The new structure would hold the water and sediment, better regulating the amount of water and sediment entering the town.
“The cattle panel was the best fit for the on-farm problem. Primarily from a financial standpoint, it was the best option. However, when approached by the representative of the town, I encouraged them to contact the landowner because another structure would control the on-farm problem and also control the off-site flooding concerns of the town,” Denton said.
Obion Mayor Wes Miller said, “I thought it was a good idea and that it would be very beneficial.”
Therefore, with the decision to install a water and sediment control basin made, the structure was redesigned and installed.
“With this new design the flood potential for this area of the community was reduced,” Denton said, “Previously this water would have flowed from the agricultural field with higher velocity and carried sediment; now the water is slowed and the sediment is contained on the farm.”
“It has helped the water situation in the town and everybody is satisfied,” said Miller. “We appreciate the cooperation with you (NRCS).”
Through the cooperation of NRCS, Obion County, the town of Obion and Ms. Jones, the erosion concern and flooding potential were reduced and, moreover, the water quality was improved and the water was managed in the interest of the town. The structure now catches water and sediment runoff from 20 acres and slowly drains it out of the field into a nearby culvert under the town’s roads and driveways, said Denton.
“We need more retention dams put in the county to try to prevent the sedimentation that we have in the Obion River watershed now,” said Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire.
More information on these and other crop land assistance programs can be found online at http://www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov/ or by contacting the local NRCS District Conservationist office.
Published in The Messenger 1.26.10
Natural Resources Conservation Service