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Front Page » June 20, 2006 » Local News » Greener pastures: Ferron celebrates end of salinity proje...
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Greener pastures: Ferron celebrates end of salinity project with program and dinner

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Green alfalfa fields and increased production plus water conservation make sprinklers a big asset in the valley.

Those involved in the Ferron salinity project met for a program and dinner on June 8. Roger Barton welcomed everyone. He said the most wonderful thing about the irrigation project was the partnerships forged. The Ferron project has become a showcase for the nation.

San Rafael Works cooked the dinner for the celebration and Kent Petersen entertained the group with cowboy poetry.

On Oct. 30, 1998 the first pipe was put in for the project. Local crews and suppliers have been used as much as possible. Sen. Robert Bennett's representative, Donna Sackett said the Senator was happy to be involoved with the project because it was the right thing to do. It has affected so many people. They have watched over the last eight years as the fields have flourished and miracles have happened.

Mike Styler, director of the Natural Resources Department said he has a farm in Oasis and as he was driving into Ferron, he thought it looked like the Garden of Eden. "It takes a farmer to see and appreciate what you've done here. You have set the example. Your crops will be better, your water quality will be better. You are great stewards of natural resources. I am very impressed and pay tribute to you and your partners."

Sylvia Gillen, state conservationist, for the Natural Resources Conservation Service congratulated the local leadership in the Ferron project. She said the people who came together and dreamed this up saw far into the future. They are also the ones who receive the most flak. The land owners came together to convince neighbors of the worth of the project.

Jack Barnett from the Colorado River Salinity Control Forum said they congratulate the Ferron project on their accomplishments. They have tried to solve complex issues. "This project does more than remove salt it provides opportunity for wildlife and the downstream users will reap benefits as well as the community here," said Barnett.

The need for salinity projects is great, but many more applications are received than can be funded.

Barnett said he hasn't seen cooperation anywhere like he's seen on the Ferron project. The Ferron people believed if they formed a plan and got it out there something would happen.

Tracy Behling receives a plaque of appreciation from Sylvia Gillen, state conservationist, from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Dave Trueman from the Bureau of Reclamation said their agency was really good with big projects like dams but the same theories didn't work for small projects. They spent $10 million studying what to do, but they failed to find a plan that would work. They were thinking of concrete lined canal systems. In looking at the topography of the area they thought pipes were too expensive. But as things have worked out, it was costing the Bureau $100 per reduction of one ton of salt and now this project has worked out to be $30 per ton of salt reduction which is a big savings. This first project has been a dream. A lot has been learned along the way in making the dream a reality. It's a wonderful project to watch the alkali patches disappear said Trueman.

A video was created by Mark Quilter of the UDAF and Ron Francis of the NRCS. It was shown to the audience. Many local Ferron residents were highlighted on the video with their views of the project.

Tidbits from the video included: yields on crops have increased by one third, fall planting is now possible, fourth cuttings of hay are now a reality, deep percolation is eliminated, runoff is reduced, and more ground gained for production by eliminating furrows.

The United States is under treaty with Mexico to provide good quality water to them. They use the water for domestic use and irrigation purposes. A board was formed to work on the salinity problem. Three members were appointed from each state, seven states in all. The board is a self-governing body and several agencies are also involved.

The Ferron project has been good for the entire community. More water is available for the city and residents. If someone wants to build a home they no longer have to go find their own water share. The city has available shares for use. The environment is better. Ferron is a better place to live.

Tracy Behling, president of the Ferron Canal Company said when the project started he had a full head of hair and look at him now. He quoted Ben Franklin who said, "We grow old too fast and wise too slow."

"No one told us we couldn't do it. We had a Ferron watershed project and a list of things we wanted to do. We wanted to keep the jobs local to help our area. The benefits of this project will widen as time goes on. We have had the help and support of so many," said Behling.

Barton mentioned the list of partners involved in the irrigation project: Bureau of Reclamation; Natural Resources Conservation Service; national, state and local employees; planners and designers; Ferron Canal and Reservoir Company; private landowners; construction crew, Mark DeBry and Merrill Duncan, construction manager; Ferron City, Clawson Town; Senator Bob Bennett; Colorado River Salinity Control Forum; Utah Department of Natural Resources,Water Resources, Water Quality, Water Rights, Agriculture and Food; Utah Agriculture Resource Conservation and Development Loan office; San Rafael Soil Conservation District; Utah Association of Conservation District; Carbon/Emery local workgroup; Emery County; USU Extension Service; Dennis Worwood; Harward Irrigation Systems; Richard, Calvin, Marcel, Mike, Jim, Len, employees, R,B and G Engineering; US Fish and Wildlife Service; pipe suppliers, vendors and services; Utah Power; and the Farm Service Agency. Irrigation board members Tracy Behling, Jed Behling, Kyle Singleton, John Lemon, James Nielsen, David Hinkins, Roger Barton, Paul Crawford - Secretary, Joann Behling - Treasurer)

Past Board members involved - Len Anderson, Tony Conder, Kash Winn, Lee Wareham, Pauline Anderson Ferron Watershed Project Committee - (Irrigation Company Board, Dennis Worwood, Kent Petersen - Emery County Commission, Ferron and Clawson cities, UP&L, NRCS, Reclamation) Merrill Duncan, Project manager and LaMond and Nellie Smith, water masters.

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