Watershed meeting focuses on goals in difficult eraFeedlot runoff causing problems; fix is to ask producers to lessen waste.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Dave Kringen is a realist facing a less-than-ideal situation.
Kringen , the project coordinator for the Lower James River Implementation Project, said he knows feedlot runoff and other agriculture-related programs are causing problems with the watershed.
But he said all he and others can do is ask producers to try to lessen the runoff.
“Basically it comes down to feedlot improvements in areas immediately adjacent to the streams and the rivers,” Kringen said. “It’s a volunteer project. It’s ultimately up to the producer if it’s a good fit for his farm or his operation.
“Things, well, they are what they are. The way commodity prices are and land values, it’s tough to compete,” he said. “We do the best we can.”
Kringen led a five-year strategic planning meeting for the Lower James River Watershed in Mitchell Wednesday. James River Water Development District Manager Dave Bartel , representatives of the National Conservation Service and a representative of a consulting firm who wrote a report on the watershed also attended.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency urged that agencies set goals and targets to improve watersheds, Kringen said.
“We were kind of the guinea pig for it, the lower Jim,” he said.
Kringen said ag producers will be advised of best management practices to reduce runoff.
“We can encourage them, certainly,” he said. “We’ve got priority feeding areas. Some feedlots are worse than others.”
Kringen said he and the agencies involved can contact the producers and offer assistance and advice.
But it’s getting more difficult to get the message out.
Money authorized by the federal Clean Water Act to promote watershed restoration has been reduced, and other dollars dedicated to the effort are scarce as well.
“We need to use our dollars as widely as possible,” he said.
The report studied Wednesday is a draft that will be reviewed by the South Dakota Department of Natural Resources, Kringen said.
He said he hopes to persuade feedlot owners and others in the ag business to care more about the environment and to willingly create less problems for it.
“I think there’s certainly room for improvement,” Kringen said.