Ag conservation awards presented

DOVER — Alfred Moor Jr., a farmer who owns and operates a 6,000-acre farm near Smyrna with his son, has dedicated his life to participating in land conservation practices in the state. He was recognized for his efforts on Tuesday, along with half a dozen other farmers, municipalities and business-owners, at the annual Agricultural and Urban Governor’s Conservation Awards at the Delaware Agricultural Museum in Dover.

An active Kent Conservation District cooperator since 1976, Mr. Moor was a “responsible land steward long before it became normal operating procedure for today’s agricultural operations,” noted DNREC. He’s been dedicated to implementing “state-of-the-art waste” storage and nutrient management systems and installing drainage systems to ensure proper water quality and management.

Notably, Mr. Moor has also served as the tax ditch manager for the Mt. Friendship Tax Ditch for 43 years, representing nearby landowners to ensuring proper ditch maintenance.

Presenting Mr. Moor with the agricultural conservation award for Kent County, Kent Conservation District coordinator Timothy Riley lauded him for his dedication to what can often be a thankless chore.

“As many of you know, Delaware was basically a swamp before we were able to set up tax ditches — they made land liveable and tillable,” said Mr. Riley. “We have these tax ditch managers out there, and for them, it’s no joyful task to volunteer for that position — they have to deal with a lot of the headaches that landowners bring to them. But, by keeping those ditches maintained, it leads to better water quality and better tillable land. It’s a big, important job.”

Gov. John Carney brought a proclamation to declare the week of April 28 to May 4 Soil and Water Stewardship week under the theme, “Life in the Soil: Dig Deeper.”

“Working with local landowners, producers, growers, farmers, conservationists, you name it — these conservation districts occupy that space in between all that where they are finding on-the-ground answers to real problems in communities and solving them and doing it with a real ‘can do’ attitude.”
Dozens of delegates and well-wishers turned out to the presentation.
“Soil and Water Stewardship week is an important week and it really highlights the partnership that DNREC has with our partners in the conservation districts, NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) and the Department of Agriculture,” said DNREC secretary Shawn Garvin. “Pooling together all of our own mutual goals to accomplish the work done on the ground, that’s where these districts really shine.”

An agricultural and urban conservation award was given to a person or group in each county to recognize their contributions.

For New Castle County, the Colonial School District Penn Farm was awarded the agricultural conservation award.
Now in its seventh year, the Penn Farm provides real-world life experiences to more than 300 students each year in the areas of field scale crop production, production gardening, animal husbandry, agri-business marketing, environmental best practices and food safety skills.

The urban conservation award was given to New Castle County Department of Public Works for their Westwoods stormwater management pond upgrade near Hockessin.

The Westwoods stormwater management pond failed following a severe storm in July 2017. The storm washed away a 24-inch corrugated metal pipe, resulting in the collapse of a 200-foot earthen embankment that covered the pipe, leaving an open channel emptying into a tributary of Mill Creek. New Castle County’s annual stormwater amnesty program provides $1.5 million in assistance each year to retrofit and perform repairs on residential development stormwater facilities.
Mr. Moor received the agricultural conservation award for Kent County and Nick Alessandro of Diamond State Pole Buildings received the urban award.
The Diamond State Pole Building project at 7288 South DuPont Highway just south of Woodside overcame challenging site conditions through the use of permeable asphalt and “bio retention.” Due to the high groundwater table at their location and the presence of environmentally-sensitive areas surrounding the site, traditional stormwater management practices were ruled out. Permeable asphalt allows stormwater runoff to pass through into a stone bed under the parking lot.

Richard Carlisle of Pine Breeze Farms near Bridgeville/Greenwood was awarded the agricultural conservation award for his work on the 1,120-acre family farm with his wife Kathy.

According to DNREC, Mr. Carlisle has long supported and participated in the Sussex Conservation District’s Soil Health Initiative and Cover Crop Program or the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service’s cover crop programs. He also serves as a tax ditch commissioner and officer on the Jones Mill and Jones Branch tax ditches, and has worked with the district to develop a tax ditch conservation plan with a maintenance schedule and recommendations for implementing water quality best management practices.

The Town of Laurel and the Laurel Redevelopment Corporation was awarded the urban conservation award in Sussex County for their work on Tidewater Park.
Constructed in spring 2018, Tidewater Park brings “green infrastructure improvements and stormwater management” to the Town of Laurel’s waterfront area through a constructed wetland adjoining Broad Creek that was planted with native aquatic plants, and with a footbridge over the wetland connected to an existing walkway.

4th District State Rep. Gerald Brady (D) was also recognized during the event with the Delaware Association of Conservation Districts’ Legislator of the Year award.

Delaware’s Conservation Districts, one in each county, are a unique governmental unit working within DNREC. According to DNREC, the districts’ mission is to provide technical and financial assistance to help Delawareans conserve and improve their local natural resources, including solving land, water and related resource problems; developing conservation programs to solve them; enlisting and coordinating help from public and private sources to accomplish these goals; and increasing awareness of the inter-relationship between human activities and the natural environment.

Staff writer Ian Gronau can be reached at 741-8272 or igronau@newszap.com

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