2016 Annual Report

“The Roller Coaster Ride”

By: Darrell Beason

Just hop on, buckle up and get ready for the ride. 2016 was just that a roller coaster ride for conservation work. In Putnam County the most notable conservation problems were definitely the drought that occurred late in the year. Pastures and hay fields suffered the most. Row cropping was over, for the most part, by the time the drought hit hardest. Each and every year there seems to be compound challenges for conservation in the Soil Conservation District (SCD). 2016 was no different. Work ranged from debris clean up left over from the ice storm to the stream restoration work due to excessive flooding. There was emergency conservation work needed from one end of the county to the other in 2016.

Partnerships are always the most important factor in getting conservation on the ground. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) are both valuable partners to the Putnam Soil Conservation District (SCD) and potential changes in funding could always have potential effects on the SCD. Both TDA and NRCS have announced that there will be drought assistance programs to assist the drought recovery efforts to the SCD in 2017. 2016 was an election year and proposed changes were talked about for USDA and more specifically NRCS. The biggest change proposed was to streamline services to clients. More to follow with those restructuring changes as we move into 2017.  

“Soil Health” was again the buzz word for the conservation movement in 2016. The idea is to keep the soil alive. Planting cover crops and keeping something actively growing on the soil surface all year long is the idea. Multi species cover crops help cropland by allowing early, mid and late growing varieties to be planted in one seeding mix. This allows the soil to remain alive and viable over the winter months. When spring arrives the primary crops can be planted into a healthy soil full of microbial activity and healthy earth worm populations. This can also be beneficial in pastures and hay fields as well. Companion crops planted into permeant forage fields help keep the soils alive.

The Putnam SCD office will see some new faces the coming year with several changes in field office staffing. Wayne Williams, NRCS Soil Conservation Technician (SCT), retired and was replaced with Nicholas Rabb, SCT, in fall of 2016. Also, Katrina Green is the new office assistant and Rodney “Jake” Jarrett is the new Putnam County Technician. Katrina and Jake came on board early in 2017 and we look forward to great things from these folks in the future. We want to welcome all our new employees to the Putnam SCD family.

Thanks to all the producers and landowners for your participation in our programs this past year and for helping make the SCD successful in our conservation efforts throughout the year.



January 1 through December 31, 2016

            The Putnam County Soil Conservation District (PCSCD) takes great pride in presenting our annual report each year. This year, the PCSCD celebrates its 76th year of conservation in Putnam County. The PCSCD works in partnership with local, state, and federal governments to provide conservation services to the citizens of Putnam County. These services include technical assistance, cost-share programs, and environmental education. Those assisted include both farmers and non-farming individuals, community groups and non-profit organizations, government agencies, businesses, and the Putnam County School system. In 2016, the Putnam County Soil Conservation District and its partners invested $440,741.70 into Putnam County to help in the areas of environmental quality and soil and water conservation. These funds helped approximately 3,000 acres in the Putnam County area. In the following paragraphs the funds and acreage is explained in more detail.    

            The following is a recap of significant PCSCD activities in 2016, with explanations of some of the programs and services offered to the citizens of Putnam County.

            The PCSCD helps to provide financial assistance and technical services to farmers and wildlife enthusiasts for conservation practices by using federal and state cost-share programs. Federal programs include the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP), Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA). The Tennessee Department of Agriculture also provides funding for farm conservation, public education and information through its Ag Resources Conservation Fund. All of these programs rely on technical expertise from the District's partner, the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

            The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides cost-share assistance to landowners to implement conservation practices on their land. In 2016, $98,653.69 in EQIP money was obligated to Putnam County farmers that were approved for funding. These cost-share funds allowed landowners to install conservation practices on 949.2 acres of farmland. These practices resulted in a drastic improvement in water quality, a significant reduction in soil loss, and improved grazing management.

            The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) provides financial and technical assistance to help land stewards conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. In 2016, $20,632.00 in CSP funding was obligated to Putnam County landowners to maintain enhancement activities that will be installed in 1936.3 acres of farmland.

            The Tennessee Department of Agriculture provided $12,566.53 in cost-share assistance.  These funds target the installation of Best Management Practices to promote water quality in specified watershed areas to monitor water quality improvements.  Funding areas are rotated each year.  Blackburn Fork, Spring Creek, Calfkiller, and Falling Water watersheds were still targeted during the 2016 calendar year due to high priority ranking.

            Funding from natural disasters was allocated to Putnam County in the 2016 calendar year through the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program and the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP).  In 2016, $308.889.48 in EWP funding was obligated to Putnam County to aid in the natural disaster recovery efforts.  Landowners that experienced damage due to the 2015 ice storm made repairs in 2016 through funds provided by ECP.  

            The PCSCD held its 67th Annual Conservation Awards Banquet on November 11th. There were eight major conservation awards presented to farmers and others that made outstanding contributions in conservation. A team of students from the Cookeville High FFA were recognized for their participation in the regional Envirothon contest. Several students from the UT Extension 4-H group were also recognized for their success in the state 4-H competition in the areas of wildlife, forestry, and land judging. The PCSCD also continued its emphasis on conservation education programs. Education projects included assistance to local schools, the regional Envirothon contest, and the annual Environmental Awareness Day at Upperman Middle School. The PCSCD also participated as a partner with Farm Bureau in “Agriculture in the Classroom” for all county 1st graders.

            The PCSCD raised funds for education and other operational needs through advertising in the annual report, the spring tree and shrub sale, geo-tex fabric sales and an equipment rental program. Additionally, the State of Tennessee appropriates a small operations grant for PCSCD use. Putnam County generously provides two full-time employees and occasional funding for special equipment purchases. During 2016, the Natural Resources Conservation Service provided two full-time professional soil conservationists, office space, supplies, and equipment. In 2016, the PCSCD also worked with the Tennessee and National Associations of Conservation Districts.

            The Putnam County Soil Conservation District Board of Supervisors is proud of the contributions it has made to the wise use of natural resources. The PCSCD continues its tradition of having a direct, positive impact on the conservation of soil, water, and related natural resources on the land in Putnam County, and has also invested in the future of wise land use through the education of current and future generations. The Board looks forward to another year of successful natural resources conservation accomplishments in 2017.


Submitted by:

Sam Tays, Chairman

Bob Lee Bilbrey, Vice Chairman

Gary Brewington, Secretary/Treasurer

Wayne Moss

Kay Sliger


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Our Mission

The mission of the Putnam County Soil Conservation District is to protect and conserve the natural resources of the county for landowners, land users, units of government, educators and organizations by finding and taking available technical, financial, and educational resources and making them available to our clients without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religions, age, disability, political beliefs, and marital or familial status.

Our History

The Putnam County Soil Conservation District, organized under the provisions of the Tennessee SCD Enabling Act of 1939, officially became a soil conservation district on February 19, 1941, following a referendum in which 322 landowners voted for and 16 against the organization.



The referendum was held at four polling places, namely Double Springs, Cookeville, Baxter, and Twin Oak communities....

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