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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : Governor’s 2013 Agricultural and Urban Conservation Award winners honored today

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Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902. PHOTOS AVAILABLE. 

Governor’s 2013 Agricultural and Urban
Conservation Award winners honored today

DOVER (April 17, 2013) – The Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village was the setting for today’s Stewardship Week proclamation reading and presentation of the annual Governor’s Agricultural and Urban Conservation Awards. On behalf of Governor Jack Markell and DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara, DNREC Deputy Secretary David Small led a ceremony with Delaware Association of Conservation Districts President Wendy O. Baker recognizing the honorees. Deputy Secretary Small also read a proclamation signed by the Governor officially designating April 28 through May 5 as Stewardship Week in Delaware under the theme, “Where Does Your Water Shed?”

“These six honorees are shining examples of how we can be better environmental stewards by taking critical steps to protect and enhance soil, water and air quality,” said Deputy Secretary Small. “On behalf of Governor Markell, Secretary O’Mara and the people of Delaware, we thank all those being honored today for their dedication and for their time, effort, and investment to implement model conservation practices. I also want to thank all of the Conservation District employees and supervisors for the many and various contributions they make to improve the quality of life in Delaware.”

Delaware Department of Agriculture Secretary Ed Kee congratulated the honorees. “The recipients this year are all excellent stewards of our state. Their daily work proves their commitment to protecting our land and water for future generations,” said Secretary Kee. “They are fine examples of how our farmers, equine owners and landowners protect our heritage and keep our agricultural tradition strong.”

This year’s Conservation Award winners are:

NEW CASTLE – Agricultural Award
·         Ramsey Farms, Wilmington, Stewart Ramsey Jr., owner
Stewart Ramsey worked with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency to implement best practices on his northern Delaware farm, which features some of the steepest slopes in New Castle County. Ramsey plants pumpkins on contour strips across these slopes. After the pumpkin harvest, he plants cover crops to use surplus nutrients and protect the slopes from erosion. Benefits include protecting water quality and promoting a better understanding of environmentally sustainable production agriculture.

Ramsey is an active supporter of the 2013 Delaware Envirothon and uses his farm, most of which is in hay production, to teach student teams about this year’s featured topic, “pasture and range land - resource concerns and benefits.” A long-time supporter and former host of “Day on The Farm,” he also plants field corn for a fall corn maze to educate visitors about Delaware farming and modern conservation practices.

NEW CASTLE - Urban Award
·         Merit Construction Engineers, Inc., Wilmington
Merit Construction responded to an urgent Friday afternoon request from New Castle Conservation District and DNREC to protect Red Lion Dike from the high tides and surging waves expected from Superstorm Sandy. The next morning, after analyzing the pre-Sandy condition of Red Lion Dike, Merit’s Vince Dills began assembling heavy equipment, manpower, 100,000 pounds of sand and one-ton capacity super-sack sandbags needed to shore up the northern and southern sections of Red Lion Dike.  

On Saturday, Merit mobilized, sending a truck west of Baltimore to pick a load of super-sack sandbags, hauling dump-truck loads of sand from a gravel pit and assigning a crew to begin filling sand bags with a ton of sand at a time. Early Sunday morning, Merit’s crews continued filling sandbags while a convoy of equipment consisting of a track excavator, rubber-tired loader, and tractor trailer pulling lowboy trailers rolled downed Route 9 from New Castle through the gates of the Occidental Chemical facility near the Delaware City refinery down to Red Lion Dike on the banks of the Delaware River. Merit’s crew started work at 5:30 a.m., loading sandbags and equipment, and worked in the wind and rain placing sandbags on the dike from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Merit’s efforts prevented Sandy’s storm surge and wind-driven tides from overtopping and breaking through Red Lion Dike, which would have released contaminated sediments into the Delaware River and Bay. Their efforts protected the dike and tide gate structure as well as a wide area of the Delaware River and Bay. Merit’s invoice for $37,848.98 included 162 hours of weekend overtime costs using the applicable wage rate schedule and almost 100 hours of heavy equipment, dump truck and lowboy trailer time.

KENT – Agricultural Award
·         Vernon Creek Farm, Franklin and Ronnie Hanson, Harrington
Vernon Creek Farm produces corn, wheat and soybeans on approximately 1,400 tilled acres west of Harrington. Conservation features on the farm include irrigation systems with a water management plan, no-tillage practices, and integrated pest and nutrient management plans.

Through the USDA’s Conservation Security Program and Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Kent Conservation District’s cost share program, the Hansons have installed best management practices on their land including tile drainage, open ditching, controlled inlet structures and cover crops. By maintaining drainage systems in an environmentally sensitive manner, the Hanson farm plays a crucial role in improving waterways statewide. Water quality and continued reliability and function of existing drainage systems, maintaining soil structure, decreased leaching and erosion potential, are some of the benefits of addressing these issues.

Ronnie is the manager of the Marshyhope Tax Ditch Association, and Franklin chairs the Prospect Tax Ditch Association.

KENT – Urban Award
·         City of Dover, Scott Koenig, City Manager
In 2012, the City of Dover installed a green roof area on the new Dover Public Library at 35 Loockerman Plaza. Although green roof technology has been proven in other parts of the county, the library’s system is one of the first to be installed in Kent County. A green roof employs a multi-layer system of vegetation planted in a growth medium on top of a drainage collection layer. Green roof systems offer improved stormwater management, increased air and water purification, extended roof life and improved energy efficiency by providing added insulation, as well as reducing heat island effects of urban environments while providing beautiful open space areas. These benefits enhance quality of life in Dover. Partners in the project included architectural design by Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture, engineering by Becker Morgan Group, Inc., and landscaping design by Landscape Architectural Services, LLC.

SUSSEX – Agricultural Award
·         Dean Roles, Centaur Training, LLC, Bridgeville
Centaur is a training facility for riding horses near Bridgeville in the Nanticoke River Watershed. Roles has a solid working relationship with the Sussex Conservation District, DNREC’s Drainage Section and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service staff. Since 2007, Sussex Conservation District planners have written Centaur’s nutrient management plan, which includes effluent wastewater application on hay ground. In 2012, Mr. Roles added 69.5 additional acres in Greenwood for hay production, and has an application on file for hay land planting and forage management.

To address soil and water erosion and quality issues at his facility, Roles received cost-share funds through the Delaware Conservation District’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program for 8,400 feet of fencing, forage harvest management, pasture and hay land planting, prescribed grazing, critical area seeding, three animal trails totaling 11,000 square feet, and 46 heavy use animal pads (artificial surfaces such as concrete or vegetative cover to help manage animal waste, sediment and nutrients and prevent them from entering waterways). This funding also covered improvements to the farm’s animal watering system, including 1,800 feet of pipeline, pumping plants, two wells and 16 watering facilities. Heavy use animal pads were placed at every gate, watering facility, at the ends of barns and connection areas with animal trails. Critical area seeding was installed along animal trails, and vegetation buffers filter manure on the trail and along fencing to avoid runoff. Fencing keeps animals away from the farm pond, out of the tax ditch and off the roadway.

Best management practices have improved the operation’s efficiency and positive environmental impact, as well as animal health and welfare. Roles’ environmentally conscious efforts, including his work on drainage issues done without cost-share assistance, have also improved the overall appearance of his farm.

SUSSEX – Urban Award
·         City of Seaford
Located at the head of the Nanticoke River in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, the City of Seaford is being recognized for its proven track record of professionalism in working with the Sussex Conservation District on watershed studies, drainage/flooding issues, and sediment and stormwater compliance, and for adhering to its mission to do what is best for Seaford residents. The City has sought numerous opportunities to improve water quality and implement green technology practices encouraged by DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship. 

Facing significant flooding issues in recent years, the City implemented improved drainage and water quality improvements including installation of pervious pavers, street trees, and bioretention areas designed to remove sediment and nutrients from surface runoff before it enters the storm drain system which discharges to the Nanticoke River. The City’s engineering firm, George, Miles and Buhr, LLC (GMB), designed the Washington Street Flood Control and Stormwater Retrofit Project, implemented in 2012, with systems to provide quantity control for the 100-year storm event.

Vol. 43, No. 153
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