This week, the Richland Soil Water and Conservation District (RSWCD) is joining districts across the country to focus on the theme “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities.”
The RSWCD is a member of the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), which is promoting the theme as part of Soil and Water Stewardship Week, April 25-May 2. Now in its 66th year, Stewardship Week highlights locally led efforts to improve soil and water resources.
Chanda Cooper, education analyst for Richland County Conservation, emphasizes the community’s role in ensuring the health of trees and forests.
“We can help keep forests healthy by replanting when trees are removed, inspecting trees regularly for signs of infection or infestation, identifying and removing non-native and invasive species, and preventing pollution of the air, soil and water,” Cooper said. “These are all great ways to promote forest and community health.”
The RSWCD has made forestry-related educational programming a yearlong priority in Richland County schools.
This year’s Stewardship Week theme is directly tied to the 2021 Youth Conservation Poster Contest, which encourages K-12 students in the County to combine their artistic skills with scientific knowledge to illustrate “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities.”
Rules for the contest, which ends Friday, April 30, can be found by visiting the County’s website, www.richlandcountysc.gov, and navigating to the RSWCD page. The contest webpage features information on how healthy forests help improve a community’s environmental, mental, physical, emotional and economic health.
Other education-related efforts by the RSWCD include class presentations for all grades on the importance of trees and forests, as well as Arbor Day celebrations to encourage tree planting and tree care. The district also hosts Project Learning Tree curriculum trainings for teachers and informal educators to help students consider environmental issues using the forest as a lens.
“Richland County’s work with the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District is incredibly important, because educating residents about keeping forests healthy will benefit generations to come,” said Councilmember Allison Terracio, District 5. “We need residents actively working to improve the conditions of trees and plants in our area so that all of our citizens will have the benefits they provide.”
More Resources Available
Throughout the week, Richland County is spotlighting efforts by the RSWCD to preserve the County’s natural resources on social media. Residents can stay updated by following RichlandSC on Facebook and Twitter.
The NACD offers free, downloadable forestry-themed resources for Stewardship Week on its website: https://www.nacdnet.org/store/.
Residents with questions about trees or forestry can reach Richland County Conservation at 803-576-2080 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The County encourages residents to participate in conservation-focused activities year round; check the County’s Events page for updates.
Students from L.W. Conder Arts Integrated Magnet School help plant a tree in front of the school during an Arbor Day celebration in December 2019. The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District holds similar events annually to encourage tree planting and tree care at local schools.