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Paynesville Press - May 8, 2002

Pheasants Forever earns conservation award

The Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) presented its 2001 Conservation Cooperator of the Year to the Stearns County Pheasants Forever. SWCD chairman Urban Spanier presented the award at the annual awards banquet on Tuesday, March 5.

The chapter was honored for: the restoration and enhancement of native prairie and critical wetland habitats on both public and private lands covering thousands of acres; promoting the Buffer Initiative and Conservation Reserve Program; for offering incentive dollars to landowners for native grass seedlings; and for sponsoring CRP forums across the county and conservation education in local schools.

Foremost in their accomplishments was the acquisition of nearly 2,500 acres of critical wildlife habitat in 20 new Wildlife Management Areas that were donated to the state for public use. Many of the Wildlife Management Areas were done in partnership with other conservation groups.

Stearns County Pheasants Forever has raised and spent over $1.7 million dollars in Stearns County on wildlife habitat and natural resources since 1984.

Dave Schoenborn of Spring Hill was honored as a 2002 River-Friendly Farmer by the SWCD at the banquet. Also honored were Joe and Janet Christen of Albany and John and Tami Christen of Albany.

Brad Wenz, SWCD soil conservationist, stated that these area farm families have demonstrated farming and conservation practices that promote "river-friendly" practices such as the use of buffer strips near ditches and streams, erosion control practices, and conservation tillage.

The Stearns County SWCD office was presented with two state awards at the banquet: the Minnesota DNR Waters Award and the Minnesota SWCD Buffer Achievement Award for their efforts in promoting and implementing water quality programs. A representative from the DNR recognized the staffs of the SWCD and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for their outstanding contributions.

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