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Conservation helps landowners ‘drought proof’ farms, ranches

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helped provide an additional 16,000 acres of rangeland that wasn’t usable prior stelprdb1101621to the installation of pipelines and water troughs. Much of the nation is suffering from drought, and reduced stream flow, depleted reservoirs, dry seasons and hot summers are worsening the situation. Though you can’t completely “drought proof” your land, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service can help you make it more resilient.

NRCS works with private landowners to plan and install conservation practices on their farms and ranches, many of which mitigate drought.

These improvements include planting cover crops; using conservation tillage or not tilling; applying the right amount of nutrients at the right time; and rotating livestock among pastures to improve plant health and quantity and quality of feed for livestock. NRCS also provides financial and technical assistance for conservation practices that make irrigating crops and providing water to livestock more efficient, such as wells, pipelines and watering facilities.

NRCS provided more than $27.2 million in financial assistance last year to farmers and ranchers in 22 states to mitigate the effects of drought by employing conservation practices on more than one million acres.

Through these proactive conservation efforts, some landowners like the Little Horse Ranch in Arizona continue to flourish despite drought. This 65,000-acre ranch has worked with NRCS for nearly 15 years, and they’re watching the herd expand. Over the course of three years, a riparian area has grown around the water tanks voluntarily.

stelprdb1101622“The ranch was able to grow during the drought,” ranch manager Pat Browning said. “We expanded from a herd of 400 to a herd of 650, and we are working to grow to 725 head next year.”

This wouldn’t have been possible if grazing and water management practices hadn’t been placed throughout the ranch, he said.

By installing pipelines and water troughs, the ranch added 16,000 acres of rangeland that wasn’t usable prior to installation. Both of the ranch’s storage tanks are operated by solar pumps often creating an influx of water. This influx spurred a voluntary riparian habitat, which provides a home for birds and other native wildlife as well as a cool and shady place for the cattle.

To learn how you can fortify your land against drought, visit your local NRCS office or website for information on how to make your land more resilient to drought and other extreme weathers.


NRCS Oregon Hydrologist Julie Koeberle presents an overview of the Western water supply forecast as of January 1, 2014.

SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Sustainable Demonstration Project at Scotland Yards Golf Club Taking Shape


With the economy still in the doldrums, a group of business and non-profit organizations has come together with an 18 hole golf course in Florida to demonstrate that embedding and embracing the tenets of sustainability regardless of the size and budget of the golf course will provide economic viability and  provide a foundation upon which to deliver environmental and social benefits.

Audubon Lifestyles is coordinating the project at the Scotland Yards Golf Club, located between the small citrus towns of Zephyrhills and Dade City, and within easy driving distance of both Orlando and Tampa, Florida. Florida has been one of the states most impacted by the downturned economy, and so it made perfect sense to our team to prove the potential to doubters of sustainability by implementing sustainable management practices on a golf facility in a location that has been hardest hit with tough times.

David Rinaldo, General Manager of Scotland Yards said, “The past several years has been a real challenge to the entire golf industry, and our course certainly hasn’t been any exception." 

The Rinaldo family built and opened the course in the 1970’s and sold the course several years ago.  But, as is often the case, that business transaction didn’t work out, and the Rinaldo's now find themselves reacquiring their old family course again.

“While we certainly care about the environment, if we can’t maintain a financially viable business, we simply would not be able to continue to function.  We were very exited to learn about the benefits of operating more sustainably, and couldn’t be  happier to become involved as a demonstration project that showcases sustainability on golf courses.” Rinaldo continued. 

Eric Dodson, CEO of Audubon Lifestyles has pulled together a small, but growing group of businesses that have agreed to contribute their time, expertise, products and services to the project. 

“We hope that we can prove to other golf facility owners who may be struggling in this economy that it doesn’t matter what how big or small your golf facility’s operating budget is— that it just makes financial sense to embrace the sustainability opportunities that are available in the market right now.”  Dodson says.

David Rinaldo has agreed to implement the recommended actions developed through the project, and to document the results over time. 

Ron Dodson  of the Dodson Group llc, a consulting firm who has agreed to participate in this project  said, “The main focus of the Sustainable Demonstration Project at Scotland Yards Golf Club is on economic viability.  Simply stated that means ‘make more, spend less’ . We believe that there are some adjustments that can be made regarding the overall management of the golf course, which will not only reduce expenditures, but improve the overall quality of the golf course.  With reduced expenditures, coupled with improved quality, it is our belief that the course will see increased play.  Increased play means more income.”

At present the groups who have agreed to participate in the Sustainable Demonstration Project at Scotland Yards Golf Club are:  Audubon Lifestyles, who will serve as lead project coordinator; True North Outdoors from Kansas City, Kansas who will provide sustainable landscape management advice and services;  Love & Dodson, based in College Park, Maryland who will take the lead in the sustainable planning, design and development for the project; Turf Feeding Systems as a producer of fertigation systems based in Houston, Texas has agreed to donate a fertigation system;  The Dodson Group llc who will offer sustainability and environmental consulting including mapping the entire course, and; Trusty & Associates based in Council Bluffs, Iowa who will provide Public Relations and Marketing Firm.

If your business or organization is inerested in joining our growning team, and is interested in becoming an active participant in our efforts at Scotland Yards please contact:  Eric Dodson  at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 727-733-0762


References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:
Audubon Lifestyles 
The International Sustainability Council 

The Cornell Lab

Small Business Trends              

Sanford Golf Design

Scotland Yards Golf Club


Turf Feeding Systems

Love and Dodson              

The Dodson Group      

To learn about sponsorship opportunities please call us at: 727-733-0762
This Issue of the SustainAbility Newsletter sponsored in part by:

The Dodson Group

$25 Annually $100 Annually $250 Reg / $100 Annually


Sponsors are a critically important part to the success of ISC-Audubon. As a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating sustainability, we offer all of our programs to our members free of charge, and are publicly available for download on our website.

ISC-Audubon is proud to extend the opportunity to select businesses and organizations to become sponsors of our sustainability education and advocacy programs. As a sponsor, your business or organization can realize significant value.

Click here to learn more about this opportunity. 


A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

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