60 years of conservation, 10 years of food, fun
Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District honors Lyle Spiesschaert
More than 130 people gathered last Saturday at Lyle Spiesschaerts farm north of Forest Grove for the Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation Districts Conservation Tour and BBQ.
That was bigger than usual, said Jennifer Nelson, outreach program manager for the TSWCD, which is celebrating its 60th birthday this year.
It was also the 10th anniversary of the organizations annual conservation tour and BBQ (catered this year by Hillsboros Reedville Cafe), which sets up at different sites each year but started right here at Spiesschaerts farm a decade ago.
Spiesschaert, whose family has farmed that property for nearly 100 years, received the Cal Krahmer award for a lifetime of commitment to conservation in Washington County or, in Spiesschaerts words, doing what we should do.
Back in 2007, Spiesschaert joined the Enhanced Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (ECREP), which offers financial incentives to farmers willing to create riparian zones along waterways by adding plants that will shade the water.
In Spiesschaerts case, the water is Council Creek, which runs into Dairy Creek and, eventually, the Tualatin River.
Federal law requires Clean Water Services (Washington Countys water management agency) to keep local waterways cool enough to protect salmon habitat. Instead of spending millions of dollars on a cooling plant, CWS chose to partner with landowners to shade streambeds at a fraction of the cost, Restoration Program Technician Briita Orwick explained during a tour of Spiesschaerts property.
Roughly 70 Washington County landowners have used the program, allowing TSWCD to plant and manage streamside buffer zones ranging from 35 feet to 180 feet in width.
Spiesschaert also worked with the Natural Resource Conservation Service to create habitat for bees, butterflies and other pollinators, and has participated in its Conservation Stewardship Program. He also practices careful management of irrigation and pesticides, uses a no-till soil approach to reduce erosion and has installed GPS monitoring on his tractor in order to avoid applying herbicides where theyre not needed.