The Castleland Resource Conservation and Development council recently received a national award. The local RC&D has been reauthorized as a member of the national RC&D Circle of Diamonds.
As a standing member of the Circle of Diamonds the Castleland RC&D council has already demonstrated its positive impact on the quality of life within the Castle Valley area and its accountability to the community it serves through its organizational structure, the processes it uses and the outcomes it attains.
In earning reauthorization of its Circle of Diamonds membership, the Castleland RC&D Council promises to continue to maintain the specific benchmarks set forth in the program guidelines. The mark of excellence shows its honesty, integrity, and strong commitment to the RC&D mission.
The Castleland RC&D is involved with several projects each year as either sponsors or partners. Some of these projects are listed below:
Specialty Crops: The council developed a "Specialty Crops" demonstration farm with a local fruit and vegetable grower with the help of two grants through Utah Department of Ag & Food (UDAF). This demonstrates how early varieties of tree fruit and vegetables in a "high tunnel" green house work in the salty soils in Emery County.
A number of different projects were conducted to benefit small growers in the region. Variety testing of apples, pears, peaches and grapes were undertaken to test their commercial viability. In addition, tests were conducted on two new peach rootstocks, specifically designed to grow in heavy clay and alkaline soils. Comparative research on traditional fertilization versus Biotical Nutrition and Compost Application was tested.
A PVC based High Tunnel Greenhouse was built to test its ability to extend growing seasons and increase market opportunities for the local farmers markets. Navajo Sheep and Wool: The Castleland RC&D Council is sponsoring a sheep and wool project in the Four corners region of the Navajo Nation.
This past June, they sponsored a tour for other RC&D Councils to learn more about this and other projects, including the construction of rain water collection structures. The tour started out near a Kayenta shopping center with the transfer of two registered Churro rams to a local Navajo sheep breeder and community leader. The rams were donated by Sam Cunningham, chair of the RC&D Council, to Benjamin Lee Clark. Cunningham explained to Clark the breed characteristics of the rams.
The Navajo-Churro breed has largely been lost from the reservation and Cunningham and others have been working for the past 20 years to help reintroduce the valuable wool qualities back into the traditional products business that helps support many Navajo families. A Churro rug is easily worth twice as much as a traditional Navajo rug in the local markets.
The sheep and wool project was jump-started with a mini-grant from NRCS that provided commercial wool carders and spinning wheels, along with production and marketing training for families interested in improving their traditional product marketing opportunities. A major goal of the project is to not only help Navajo families (and especially their children) sustain their traditional products culture, but also to make sheep and wool an economic mainstay in the community.
Skyline CWMA: The Castleland RC&D has been providing organizational support and serving as the fiscal agent for the Skyline Cooperative Weed Management Area since it was formed back in 2002. The Skyline CWMA is a collaborative effort of agencies and private landowners with the goal of controlling noxious weeds beyond jurisdictional boundaries. This year the Skyline CWMA completed nine separate weed spraying projects in Carbon and Emery counties. The total acres treated during 2010 were more than 2,000 acres. The CWMA also published another addition of the "Weeds of Utah" calendar as an educational effort, and distributed more than 4,500 of them to communities throughout Utah.
In conjunction with the Skyline CWMA, Castleland RC&D had a booth at the Utah Weed Control Association's annual meeting to showcase its accomplishments and offer support to other CWMA's in the state.
Hay Production and Capability Tour: The Castleland Resource Conservation and Development Council, in cooperation with Utah State University Extension, hosted a hay production and marketing presentation on the Roy Adams Farm in Parowan Valley on June 12.
Producers and their families from the RC&D area traveled to Parowan to learn how the Adams family hay and farming operations provide full-time support to twin sons Alan and Alma, their mother, Elaine, and one of their sons, Mike.
The RC&D Council organized the tour to help show the viability of full-time farming operations to producers in the Castle Valley area who now are experiencing the benefits of recent irrigation improvements from the Ferron Irrigation Salinity Project and the current $92 million Huntington/Cleveland Project that is converting farms from flood to sprinkler irrigation. The new systems are now producing up to four cuttings of hay with more efficient use of water over the growing season.
Other projects have included: Alternative energy, Bluff bridge, Buckhorn Information Center, Brownfield Coalition partnership, Castle Valley Town EWP facilitation, community fire plans, Green River Salinity Diversion Dam, Irrigation management workshop, John Wesley Powell Research Facility/Crystal Geyser, Mancos Hills Industrial Park, Millsite Sedimentation and dam safety, Price River Enhancement, regional ag. marketing cooperative, San Juan CWMA, Southeastern Utah Tamarisk partnership and Utah Partners for conservation development.
Wayne Urie is the director for the RC&D for the four county area and his office is based in Castle Dale.