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  • soil and water conservation

  • How to Use This PamphletThe secret to successfully earning a merit badge is for you to use both the pamphlet and the suggestions of your counselor.

    Your counselor can be as important to you as a coach is to an athlete. Use all of the resources your counselor can make available to you. This may be the best chance you will have to learn about this particular subject. Make it count.

    If you or your counselor feels that any information in this pamphlet is incorrect, please let us know. Please state your source of information.

    Merit badge pamphlets are reprinted annually and requirements updated regularly. Your suggestions for improvement are welcome.

    Send comments along with a brief statement about yourself to Youth Development, S209 Boy Scouts of America 1325 West Walnut Hill Lane P.O. Box 152079 Irving, TX 75015-2079.

    Who Pays for This Pamphlet?This merit badge pamphlet is one in a series of more than 100 covering all kinds of hobby and career subjects. It is made available for you to buy as a service of the national and local councils, Boy Scouts of America. The costs of the development, writing, and editing of the merit badge pamphlets are paid for by the Boy Scouts of America in order to bring you the best book at a reasonable price.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    BoY SCoUtS oF AMeriCAMerit BAdGe SerieS

  • 35952ISBN 978-0-8395-3291-02004 Boy Scouts of America2010 Revision of the 2004 Edition

    BANG/Brainerd, MN4-2010/056818

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 3

    Requirements1. Dothefollowing:

    a. Tellwhatsoilis.Tellhowitisformed.

    b. Describethreekindsofsoil.Tellhowtheyaredifferent.

    c. Namethethreemainplantnutrientsinfertilesoil.Tellhowtheycanbeputbackwhenusedup.

    2. Dothefollowing:

    a. Definesoilerosion.

    b. Tellwhysoilerosionisimportant.Tellhowitaffectsyou.

    c. Namethreekindsofsoilerosion.Describeeach.

    d. Takepicturesofordrawtwokindsofsoilerosion.

    3. Dothefollowing:

    a. Tellwhatismeantbyconservationpractices.

    b. Describetheeffectofthreekindsoferosion-controlpractices.

    c. Takepicturesofordrawthreekindsoferosion-controlpractices.

    4. Dothefollowing:

    a. Explainwhatawatershedis.

    b. Outlinethesmallestwatershedthatyoucanfindonacontourmap.

    c. Outline,asfarasthemapwillallow,thenextlargerwatershedthatalsohasthesmalleroneinit.

  • 4 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    d. Explainwhatariverbasinis.Tellwhyallpeoplelivinginariverbasinshouldbeconcernedaboutlandandwateruseinthebasin.

    5. Dothefollowing:

    a. Makeadrawingtoshowthehydrologiccycle.

    b. Demonstrateatleasttwoofthefollowingactionsofwaterinrelationtosoil:percolation,capillaryaction,precipitation,evaporation,transpiration.

    c. Explainhowremovalofvegetationwillaffectthewaywaterrunsoffawatershed.

    d. Tellhowusesofforest,range,andfarmlandaffectusablewatersupply.

    e. Explainhowindustrialuseaffectswatersupply.

    6. Dothefollowing:

    a. Tellwhatismeantbywaterpollution.

    b. Describecommonsourcesofwaterpollutionandexplaintheeffectsofeach.

    c. Tellwhatismeantbyprimarywatertreatment,secondarywastetreatment,andbiochemicaloxygendemand.

    d. Makeadrawingshowingtheprinciplesofcompletewastetreatment.

    7. DoTWOofthefollowing:

    a. Makeatriptotwoofthefollowingplaces.Writeareportofmorethan500wordsaboutthesoilandwaterandenergyconservationpracticesyousaw.

    (1) Anagriculturalexperiment

    (2) Amanagedforestorawoodlot,range,orpasture

    (3) Awildliferefugeorafishorgame managementarea

    (4) Aconservation-managedfarmorranch

    (5) Amanagedwatershed

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 5

    (6) Awaste-treatmentplant

    (7) Apublicdrinking-watertreatmentplant

    (8) Anindustrywater-useinstallation

    (9) Adesalinizationplant

    b. Plant100trees,bushes,and/orvinesforagoodpurpose.

    c. Seedanareaofatleastone-fifthacreforsomeworthwhileconservationpurposes,usingsuitablegrassesorlegumesaloneorinamixture.

    d. Studyasoilsurveyreport.Describethethingsinit.Usingtracingpaperandpen,traceoveranyofthesoilmapsandoutlineanareawiththreeormoredifferentkindsofsoil.Listeachkindofsoilbyfullnameandmapsymbol.

    e. Makealistofplacesinyourneighborhood,camps,schoolground,orparkthathaveerosion,sedimentation,orpollutionproblems.Describehowthesecouldbecorrectedthroughindividualorgroupaction.

    f. Carryoutanyothersoilandwaterconservationprojectapprovedbyyourmeritbadgecounselor.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 7

    Contents

    Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

    WhatIsSoil?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

    HowWaterBehaves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

    CausesandEffectsofErosion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

    ConservationontheLand. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

    ConservationinWatersheds. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53

    WaterPollution. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

    ConservationandAgriculture........................79

    HowYouCanHelp. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83

    Resources. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 9

    .introduction

    IntroductionOnEarth,alllivingthingshavemovedthroughself-renewinglifecycles,havedependedonairandwater,havegrownanddied.Alltheselife-formsaretiedtogether.Tosurvive,theyallplants,animals,birds,insects,andorganismstoosmalltobeseenwithoutamicroscopeneedair,water,soil,andsunlightinsomeform.

    Alllife-formsarecloselylinkedanddependononeanotherfortheirexistence;thisiscalledthewebofnature.Ifonestrandofthewebisdamagedordestroyed,theotherstrandswillfeeltheresultinsomeway.Ifthewebisstrong,withallpartsworkingwell,awholesomeenvironmentonEarthwillflourishforpeopleandallotherlivingthings.

    IttakestheattentionandhelpofmanypeopletokeepEarthsenvironmentingoodworkingordertosupportitsgrowingpopulation,whichmusthaveair,water,food,clothing,shelter,andlivingspace.

  • 10 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    introduction.

    our responsibility to learnWeallhaveaplaceinthegreatwebofnatureandshouldbeconcernedaboutwhathappenstothesoil,water,andallthingswecallnatural resources.Weallhaveadutytolearnmoreaboutthenaturalresourcesonwhichourlivesdependsothatwecanhelpmakesurethattheseresourcesareusedintelligentlyandcaredforproperly.

    Conservationisntjusttheresponsibilityofsoilandplantscientists,hydrologists,wildlifemanagers,landowners,andtheforestormineowneralone.Itmustbeyourduty,too.Toenjoywoods,wildlife,andflowers;cleanwater;naturalopenspacesnearourhomes;andagoodfoodsupply,thenyou,too,mustbeaconservationist.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 11

    .introduction

    Tobeanaturalresourceconservationist,youmusthaveagoodknowledgeofthosenaturalresources.TheSoilandWaterConservationmeritbadgewillintroduceyoutothefascinatingworldofsoilandwaterandtotheplantsandanimalsthatshareEarthwithus.Tounderstandsoilandwaterconservationasawhole,wemustfirststudypartsofit.Thisiswhysoilandwaterarediscussedseparatelyfirst,beforetheyareconsideredasaninseparablewhole.Asyoulearnmoreaboutsoilandwaterconservationandcarryoutyourconservationprojects,youwillbegintoseethatitisnearlyimpossibletoseparatesoilandwateraspartsofEarthsnaturalresources.

    AsyoubeginworkonyourSoilandWaterConservationmeritbadge,discusstherequirementswithyourcounselor.Yourcounselorcanhelpyouchooseprojectsthatyoucandoreadilyandfromwhichyoucanlearnthemost,dependingonwhereyoulive.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 13

    .What is Soil?

    WhatIsSoil?Soilisnotliving,butitsupportslife.Wewalk,play,travel,andbuildonit.Youcallitdirtanddontthinkmuchaboutit,butyourlifeandthatofallothercreaturesdependcompletelyontherelativelythinlayerofsoilthathasdevelopedonmostofthelandsurfaceofEarth.Ifyoulookcloselyatsomesoil,youllseemanybitsofrock,mineralcrystals,plantroots,decayedleavesandothermaterials,worms,tinylivinganddeadplantsandanimals,water,andair.Thoughtheproportionsvary,allsoilconsistsofmineralandorganicmatter,water,andair.

    Understandinghowsoilsform,howsoilsdiffer,andhowplantsusesoilwillhelpyoubetterunderstandandappreciatetheimportanceofsoilforlife.

    Physical and Chemical ChangesMostsoilsdevelopedlargelyfromvariouskindsofrocks.Overthousandsofyears,theforcesofnaturesun,wind,rain,frost,glacialice,chemicalandbiologicalreactionsbreakrocksintosmallerandsmallerpieces.Thesunwarmstherockandtherockexpands;atnighttherockcoolsandcontracts.Thisexpan-sionandcontractionopenstinycracksintherock.Moisturefromrainorsnowgetsintothecracksandhelpsforcetherockpiecesfartherapart.Morewaterenterstorepeatthecycle.

    soil. A self-

    renewing

    compound of

    rock and mineral

    particles, organic

    material, living

    organisms, air,

    and moisture.Recognizinghowimportantsoilisinthewebofnature,CharlesE.Kellogg,asoilscientistandchiefoftheSoilSurveyforalmost40years,wrotethatessentially,alllifedependsuponthesoil....Therecanbenolifewithoutsoilandnosoilwithoutlife;theyhaveevolvedtogether.

  • 14 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    What is Soil?.

    Aftersomepieceshavebrokenofftherock,thewindblowsthem,orrunningwatergrindsthem,againstotherrocks.HugeglaciersthatoncemovedacrossthenorthernUnitedStatestwistedandshiftedandgrounduptremendousquantitiesofrock,greatlychangingthelandscape.

    Chemicalreactionsalsohelpadvancethealterationofrocks.Fallingrainpicksupalittlecarbondioxidefromtheatmospherethat,whenjoinedwithhydrogen,formsaweakacidyetonepowerfulenoughtodissolvecertainmineralsalts.Thesedissolvedsubstancescauseotherchemicalchangestooccurintherocks.

    Soil FormationThecrumblingofrockisaprocessthatleadstosoilformation.Finelygroundorsplinteredrockwillnotbecomesoiluntilitbeginstosurgewithlife.Livingandonce-livingplantsandanimalsorganicmatterhelpgivesoilaphysicalstructurethatadmitsmoistureandairandhelpsthesoilretainthem.Tobeuseful,soilmustkeepitsstructure.

    Natures forces

    slowly crumble

    rocks into mineral

    particles of clay,

    sand, and silt.

    the forces of nature helped shape these rock formations in eastern Utah.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 15

    .What is Soil?

    Asbitsofcrumbledmaterialandmoisturecollectonarock,simpleplantscalledlichensbegintogrow.Aftersometime,water,decayinglichens,andmorebitsofmineralmattercollectintherockcrevices.Soon,microscopicformsofplantandani-mallifebegintomakethecrevicestheirhome.Mossesbegintogrowontherock,andlatertheseedsoflargerplantsgerminateinthislooseearthymaterial;theseweeds,grasses,andotherplantsgrow,die,anddecay,therebysupplyingorganicmatter.

    Theshape,ortopography,ofthelandonwhichsoildevelopshelpsdeterminethesoilsquality.Thetopographysteepnessofslope,directionofslope,elevationdeterminesthepatternsofwatermovementandaccumulationaswellastheamountofthesunsheatthatreachesthesurfaceoftheland.

    Plants are the

    real makers of

    soil. At the same

    time, chemical

    reactions are

    happening, and

    bacteria, fungi,

    worms, tunneling

    and burrowing

    insects, and other

    organisms are

    active. Thus the

    formation of a

    simple soil begins.

    Entirely different

    soils can

    come from the

    same rocks.

    rub two pieces of rough rock together vigorously to get an idea of how long it would take for physical forces to break down rocks into the material from which soil develops. You have to rub a long time to get even a spoonful of tiny particles!

    Tobuildjust1inchofthesurfacesoilcouldtake100years.Inplaceswheretheclimateisdryandcold,aninchofsurfacesoilmightnotdevelopin1,000years.Leftunprotected,thissoilcouldbelostinonerainstorm.Thisiswhyitissoimportanttocareforthesoilwehave.

  • 16 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    What is Soil?.

    the Many Kinds of SoilSoilscientistshaveidentifiedmorethan70,000kindsofsoilintheUnitedStates.Climate,parentrocks,plantandanimallife,topography,andtimeallaffectthedevelopmentofsoilsandcausesoilstobedifferent.Particularlyimportantistheclimate,especiallytemperatureandtheamountofrainfall.Climatedeterminesnotonlyhowfastandinwhatwayrocksarebrokenintofragments,but,moreimportantly,whatkindsofplantsgrowinaparticularplace.Inturn,thekindofplantsthatgrow,aswellashowfastdeadonesdecay,andthekindandactivityofsoilorganismsdeterminethekindofsoilthatdevelops.

    BylookingatacrosssectionofEarth,wewouldseethattheouterlayerthesoilisverythincomparedwiththediam-eterofthewholeplanet.Soildepthactuallyrangesfrommanyfeet,wherewindandwaterhavedepositedsoilmaterialsovertime,tolessthananinchinplaceswheretheclimateandotherfactorshavehinderedsoildevelopmentorwheresoillosshasoccurredbecauseoferosionornaturaldisasters.

    the Soil ProfileSoilhasthreedimensions.Itisboundedonthetopbythesur-faceoftheland(andsometimesiceorwater),onthebottombyrockmaterial,andonthesidesbyothersoils.Acrosssectionofsoilinanewlycutroadortheexcavationforthebasementofanewbuildingwillshowdefinitelayers.Thissuccessionoflayersfromthesoilsurfacedowntobroken,weatheredrockiscalledasoil profile.Thedifferentlayersareknownashorizons.

    Upper Mantle

    lower Mantle

    D-DoUble-priMe layer

    oUter Core(Molten)

    inner Core(SoliD)

    CrUSt

    0 to 31 MileS250 MileS406 MileS

    1,688 MileS1,806 MileS

    3,219 MileS

    3,981 MileS

    Peat is a kind of

    soil that consists

    almost entirely of

    organic matter.

    You will usually

    find it where

    there were once

    lakes, ponds,

    or marshes.

    Each horizon

    differs in one or

    more properties,

    such as color,

    texture, structure,

    porosity (how

    many pores

    tiny holes that let

    in moisture

    it has), and

    chemical content.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 17

    .What is Soil?

    Thesoilprofilecarriesthesoilshistory.Forinstance,theprofileoftheparticulartypeofsoilthatdevelopsinaforestlooksmuchdifferentfromtheprofileofsoilwhereonlygrassesgreworwheredesertconditionsexist.

    Soillayersdifferinthicknessandincolorsurfacesoilscanbeblackordarkbrown,gray,orred.Organicmatterusuallymakesasoildark.Otherlayersinthesoilprofileusuallyarelighterincolorthanthesurfacesoil.Theircolorsyellow,red,white,ormaybeevensomewhatbluecomefromrockandfromchemicalreactionsthathavehappenedoveralongtime.

    Soilsmaylookthesameonthesurface,theycanbequitedifferentunderneath.Tobetterunderstandthedifferences,lookatseveraldifferentsoilprofilesexposedalongsteeproadbanksorinconstructionexcava-tionsorgradingactivities.ExplainsomeofthethingsyouseeandhavelearnedaboutsoiltootherScouts,yourleaders,friends,orfamilymembers.

    Mostsoilprofilesincludethreemaster horizons.Thetoplayertheoneweusuallythinkofwhenweusethewordsoiliscalledsurface soil.Fromit,manyplantsgetmostofthemoistureandnutrientstheyneedtosurvive.Belowthesurfacesoilisalayercalledsubsoil,andthenanotherlayercalledsoil parent material,whichislargelylooseandpartlydecayedrockthatmightsomedaydevelopintosoil.

    SUrfaCe Soil

    SUbSoil

    beDroCk

    parent Material

    Soil profile

    A soil profile can tell a great deal about the past climate of an area and about the plants that grew there many years ago.

    In some places,

    if the cut for the

    soil profile is deep

    enough, you can

    see solid rock

    called bedrock

    below the soils

    parent material.

  • 18 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    What is Soil?.

    three Sizes of ParticlesAnothercharacteristicofasoilisthesizeofthesolidparticlesitcontains.Indescribingsoils,thedifferent-sizedparticlesarecalledsand, silt,andclay.

    Takesomesoilbetweenyourfingers.Ifitfeelscoarseandgrittyandyoucanjustbarelyseeindividualparticles,itmustcontainalargeproportionofsandparticlesthatrangefrom0.05to2.0millimetersindiameter.

    Finesoilfeelssmoothlikeflour.Moistensomeandworkitintoathinribbonbetweenyourthumbandforefinger.Iftheribbonbreaksoffnearyourfingerseachtime,chancesarethesoilislargelysiltparticlesrangingfrom0.002to0.05millimetersindiameter.Youcannotseetheindividualparticleswithoutusingastrongmagnifyingglass.

    Doesthesoilbetweenyourfingersfeellikefinepowderwhendry?Afteryoumoistenit,doesitmakeatleastaninch-longribbonbeforebreakingwhenyouworkitbetweenyourthumbandfinger?Ifso,youhavemostlyclayparticlessmallerthansiltandlessthan0.002millimetersindiameter.

    Whensoilsexpertsrefertosoiltexture,theyaretalkingaboutthesizeofthesoilparticles.Whenasoilisidentifiedasaloam(thistermrefersonlytothesizeofparticlesitcontains),itmeansthatthesoilcontainsarelativelyevenmixtureofsandandsiltandasomewhatsmallerproportionofclay.Thisgenerallyisadesirablequalityinsoil.

    Trythisexperiment.Fillajartwo-thirdsfullofwaterandpourinacupofsoil.Shakeitvigorouslyandthenletitstandforseveralhours.Holdapieceofpaperagainstthesideofthejaranddrawadiagramofthelayerstomakeyourownsoilchart.Dothelayerslooklikethese?Explainwhythelargestparticlessettleonthebottom.

    Clay

    Soil particle chart

    Silt

    fine SanD

    CoarSe SanD

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 19

    .What is Soil?

    naming Soils and Soil SurveysSoilsusuallyarenamedafterthetownsorlocalitiesnearwheretheywerefirstdefined.Becauseseveralsoilsinthesamelocal-itymighthavesimilartexture,descriptivewordsareaddedtogivespecificsoilnames,suchasMiamisiltloam,Houstonsandyclay,orMohavesandyloam.

    Soilsvarywidelyintheirabilitytosupportplantlifeandinhowwelltheyaresuitedforbuilding.Tomanageasoilintel-ligentlyandcareforitproperly,peoplemustknowsomethingaboutitscharacteristics.Thisisthereasonformakingsoil surveysinventoriesofsoilresourcesthatshowtheextentandlocationofdifferentkindsofsoil.

    Thesoilscientistboresholesinthesoilwithaboringtoolcalledanauger,usuallytoadepthof3to5feet.Bystudyingthissoilcoreandtheexposedsoilprofiles,thescientistcandeterminemanysoilcharacteristicsandthuscanoutlineonaerialphotographstheboundariesofdifferentsoils.Samplesofthesoilaresenttolaboratoriesforchemicalandphysicalteststhatcannotbemadeinthefield.

    Whenthisresearchonthesoiliscompleted,allthemeasurements,observations,andtestresultsarepublishedinthesoil survey.Thisreportincludesmapsshowingtheboundariesofdifferentkindsofsoil;thedescription,name,andclassificationofeachsoilinthearea;andtheinformationthatlandowners,conservationists,engineers,andotherswhowillworkwiththesoilneedtodeterminepossiblesafeusesofthelandandhowitneedstobecaredforwhenusedfordifferentpurposes.

    A silty clay loam

    soil contains a

    fairly high

    proportion of clay

    particles27 to

    40 percentwith

    the remainder

    being sand

    and silt-sized

    particles.

    SoilinformationonmostofthenationscountiescanbefoundontheWebsiteoftheU.S.DepartmentofAgriculturesNaturalResourcesConservationService.TheNRCShelpspeopleconserve,maintain,andimproveournaturalresourcesandenvironment.Withyourparentspermis-sion,visithttp://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app.

    Soil samples can be extracted easily and quickly with a hydraulic soil probe.

  • 20 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    What is Soil?.

    Using a Soil SurveySoilsurveyshavebeencompletedonmorethan95percentofalllandintheUnitedStates.Usually,thesereportscoveronecounty.Fromthisreport,youcanlearnthenamesandthechar-acteristicsofsomeofthesoilsinyourpartofthecountry.

    Manypeoplefindpublishedsoilsurveysuseful.Thesurveyscontaininformationcalledsoil interpretations.Peoplewhowanttousethelandfordifferentpurposesneedtoknowaboutdifferentcharacteristicsofthesoil.Forexample,asoilmightbegoodforgrowingcrops,butapondbuiltonitmightneverfillupbecausethewaterdrainsawaytooquickly.

    Soilinterpretationscanhelphome-ownerslearnwhatkindsofplantstheycanexpecttogrowsuccessfully,butmoreisatstakethangrowingthings

    whereofficebuildings,homes,factories,airports,highways,andotherlandusesareplanned.Somesoilsgiveexcellentsupporttobuildings;otherssinkorslideunderweight.Foundationsoreventheupperpartsofbuildingscanshiftorcrackiftheyareonsoilsthatexpandwhenwetorshrinkwhendry.Septicsystemsforthedisposalofhouseholdwastesworkwellinsoilswithgooddrain-agecharacteristics,butsomesoilsdrysoslowlyorhavesuchhighwatertablesduringcertainperiodsoftheyearthatsepticsystemscannotbeused.Andsomesoilscontainmineralsandchemicalsthatquicklycorrodegas,water,orelectricconduitsorcauseconcretetodisintegrate.

    Paying attention to soil interpretations can help builders and landowners avoid this kind of disaster. Soil slippage and swelling caused this house to break apart.

    Soil interpreta-

    tions tell whether

    land can be used

    in a certain way

    or something

    about how to

    manage a tract of

    land for a use that

    has already been

    determined.

    Manypeopleusesoil-surveyinformation,includingcityandregionalplanners,engineers,Scoutcampofficials,highwaydepartments,farmers,taxassessors,constructioncontractors,architects,utilitycompanies,andlandscapearchitects.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 21

    .What is Soil?

    land-Capability ClassificationThemostwidelyusedsoilinterpretationistheland-capability classification.Thissystemclassifiesindividualsoilsaccordingtotheircapabilitiesandlimitations,suchascropsthatwillgrowthere,ortheriskoferosiondamageiftheyaremismanaged.Farmers,ranchers,andothersusethisclassificationschemetohelpthemdevelopconservationplansfortheirlands.

    Thereareeightland-capabilityclassifications.TherisksofsoildamageandthelimitationstouseofthelandincreasefromclassItoclassVIII.Forexample,landincapabilityclassIisthebestforfarming.Itisalmostlevelandnotsubjecttoerosion;generallyitisfertile,andtherearenoproblemswithwatermanagement.LandincapabilityclassVIIIisnotsuitableforcrops,grazing,orforestry;itmaybeextremelydry,wet,sandy,stony,andsteep,rough,orbadlyeroded.Desertareas,swamps,someruggedmountains,andsanddunesareexamplesoflandinthisclass.

    land-capability classification

    FindoutwhetherawrittenconservationplanisavailableforthepropertyonwhichyourScoutcampislocated.Ifsuchaplanexists,studyitssoilandland-capabilitymaps.Usingwhatyouhavelearnedsofar,determinewhetherthelandhasbeenusedtoitsbestcapabilities.Arethereareaswheretheplanhasntbeenfollowed?Ifso,whatcanyoudoaboutit?

  • 22 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    What is Soil?.

    Plant nutrientsWhyaresomelawnsgreenerandmorelushthanothers?Whydosomegardensandorchardsproducetastiervegetablesandfruits?Whyarecropyieldsonsomefarmsmuchlargerthanononesnearby?Theremaybeseveralreasons,butanimportantoneisthepresenceorabsenceofnutrientsthatplantsneedforgrowthanddevelopment.

    Wheneverweremoveplantsfromtheland,wetakeawaynutrientsthatcouldbeusedinfutureplantgrowth.Iftheplantsareallowedtodecomposethere,nutrientsusuallyareaddedtothesoilasthedeadplantsagainbecomepartoftheorganicmatterinthesoil.Butinmostcases,weharvestcrops.Wetakevegetablesandflowersfromgardens.Cattlegrazeongrass.Wecuthaytofeedthecowsthatprovideourmilk.

    Whenanimalseatplantsgrownonsoilthatdoesnthavetherightnutrients,andwhenpeople,inturn,eattheproductssup-pliedfromanimals,noonegetsthenutrientsneededforbestgrowthandhealth.Improperorcarelessuseofsoilcausesplantnutrientstorapidlydeplete.Also,watermovingdown-wardthroughcertainsoilscarriessolubleplantnutrientsintothesubsoilwhereplantrootscannotreachthem.Thisiscalledleaching.

    Plantsusuallycangetadequateamountsofcarbon,hydrogen,andoxygenfromwaterandair.

    Most plant

    nutrients are

    located in

    the topsoil.

    ThelandresourcesoftheUnitedStatestotalnearly2billionacres(NationalResourcesInventory,2003).Weuseonlyabout5percentofthetotalforsuchpur-posesascities,roads,homes,parks,railroads,airports,camps,andindustrialplants.About368millionacresproducecrops,while406millionacresareforestlandand405millionacresarerangeland.Another808millionacresareinfederalandotherlands.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 23

    .What is Soil?

    Plants need a Balanced dietFertilesoilcansupplythecompletenutritionalneedsofagrowingplant.Thethreeprincipalplantnutrientsarenitrogen,phosphorus,andpotassium.Plantsusuallyneedonlyexceeding-lysmallortraceamountsofsulfur,calcium,iron,manganese,magnesium,molybdenum,boron,copper,zinc,andseveraldozenotherchemicalelements,buttheymusthavethem.Aplantthatlacksanessentialnutrientwillshowphysicalsignsofthedeficiency.Chemicalsoiltestshelpdeterminehowmuchofwhichnutrientsareneededforthebestgrowthofdifferentkindsofplants.

    Asfarbackasaround200b.c.,theRomansalreadyknewhowtomaintainsoilfertility:croprotation(plantingdifferentcropsonapieceoflandinaplannedsequence),addinglimetosoilstoreduceacidity,addingmanure,growinglegumes(peas,beans).Thesemethodsallarestillusedtoday.Forcen-turies,peoplewholivedalongthebanksofriversandstreamshaverecognizedthattheannualfloodsthatcoveredtheirlandwithsediment-richwaterledtobettercrops.In1699,JohnWoodwardexperimentedbygrowingplantsinwatercontainingdifferingamountsofsediment.Hefoundthattheplantgrowthimprovedastheamountofsedimentinwaterincreased.

    Loose and crumbly

    soil has many

    pores for water

    and airit has

    good structure.

    these soils were found only 25 feet apart but have very differ-ent structures. the soil on the left came from a cultivated field; the soil on the right, from uncultivated fencerow (land occupied by a fence and the area surrounding it on either side). the loose, crumbly soil, right, can absorb water 20 times faster than the compacted soil on the left.

  • 24 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    What is Soil?.

    FertilizersEarlyAmericancolonistsreceivedhelpfromIndianswhoinsistedthatonefishbeplantedwitheachseed.Thedecom-posedfishsuppliedthegrowingplantwithnitrogenandphos-phorous.Insomeplaces,seaweedhasbeenusedforcenturiesasafertilizerforcrops.Bythelate1880s,researchintofertilizerspickedup.Scientistsfocusedontheessentialelementsinfertiliz-ers,thebesttimeforapplication,andfertilizerformulas.

    Tofertilizegardensandcropsofhighvaluesuchastobaccoandcotton,naturallyoccurringandreadilyavailablematerialscottonseedmeal,driedblood,fishmeal,guanowereused.Animalmanureandcropresiduesalsohavebeenusedasfertilizers.Thesematerialshelpreplenishplantnutrientsandsupplyorganicmatteressentialformaintainingdesirablesoilstructure.

    Sincetheearly1920s,useofmanufacturedfertilizershasbecomeincreasinglycommon.Mostfertilizerssupplyoneormoreofthenutrientsnitrogen,phosphorus,andpotassiumthatplantsusethemost.Aspeopledevelopedplantsthatyieldedmuchlargerquantitiesoffoodandanimalfeedhybridcorn,forexampletheyhadtosupplytheseplantswiththenutrientsnecessaryforhighproduction.Thus,thetotalnutrienttonnageofmanufacturedfertilizerusedintheUnitedStatesincreasedalmosteighttimesfrom1945to1977,from2.8milliontonstomorethan22milliontons.FertilizerusageintheUnitedStateshasfluctuatedbyonly2to3percentaroundthistotalsincethe1970s.

    nutrient tonnage.

    The actual weight

    of the nitrogen,

    phosphorus,

    produced.

    Todays farmers

    are learning how

    to reduce the use

    of commercial

    fertilizers by

    utilizing natural

    nutrients such

    as manure.

    Gardenersoftenmakeacompost pileandusethedecayedorganicmate-rialfromittofertilizeandimprovethesoilsinwhichtheygrowflowersandvegetables.Leaves,grassclippings,deadgardenplants,vegetablescraps,andotherraworganicmaterialplacedinapileandkeptfairlymoistusuallywillrotandmakeusefulcompostformixingintothesoilwithinaboutsixmonths.

    Compostingisallaboutturningyourorganicgarbageandwasteintorichfertilizer,whichhelpskeepthesoilinyouryardhealthyandlandfillslessfull.Somepeopleevenusewormstohelpspeeduptheprocess,amethodcalledvermiposting.Tofindoutmoreaboutcomposting,seetheGardeningmeritbadgepamphlet.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 25

    .What is Soil?

    Homeownersandfarmersmustapplytheproperfertilizersfortheplantstheywanttogrow.Forexample,grassonlawnsusuallyneedsagreateramountofnitrogenthanothernutrients.Soybeans,acropplantthathastheabilitytotakenitrogenfromtheairand,withthehelpofcertainbacteria,storeitinlittlenodules,orlumps,onitsroots,willonmostsoilsproduceamuchgreateryieldiffertilizedwithphosphorus.

    rotating CropsPeoplelearnedlongagothatrotatingcropsgrowingdifferentcropplantsinaplannedsequencewasimportantingoodsoilmanagement.Croprotationhasmanybenefits.Insectscannotstayinthesamefieldtodineontheirfavoritecropyearafteryearwhencropsarerotated.Onmanysoils,itiseasiertomaintainagoodsoilstructurewhenshallow-rootedanddeep-rootedplantsarealternated.Onslopingland,erosioncanbegreatlyreducedbyrotatingcrops.

    Sweet or

    Sour Soil?

    You may hear

    gardeners or

    farmers remark

    that they have

    a sweet or a

    sour soil. This

    has nothing to

    do with taste.

    Sour is used

    to describe a soil

    that is acidic,

    while sweet

    refers to an

    alkaline soil.

    OnthepHtestscale,thenumberzerorepresentsanextremelystrongacidreaction,14representsanextremelystrongalkalinereaction,and7representsaneutralreaction.Thisinformationtellslandownerswhatwillgrowbestinthesoilandhowtoincreaseordecreaseitsacidity.

    VeryfewplantswillgrowinsoilswithapHhigherthan10orlessthan3.5.Roses,mostannualflowersandvegetables,andmostlawngrassesshouldhaveaslightlyacidtoneutralsoil.FarmcropsthrivebestinsoilsrangingfrompH6.0to8.0.

    A soils expert tests a soil core to determine its pHhow acidic or alkaline it is.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 27

    .How Water Behaves

    HowWaterBehavesOfallthenaturalresourcesnecessarytotheexistenceandcomfortofalllivingthingsonEarth,wateristhebest-known.WeknowthatwaterfallsonEarthasrain,snow,sleet,orhail.Buttherearemanythingsyoumightnotknowaboutwater.

    Tounderstandmoreaboutwater,wemustlearnaboutthewatercycle,orhydrologic cycle,theprocessbywhichwatertravelsfromtheseathroughtheairbymeansofclouds,andfallsonEarthtoreturnagainoverthesurfaceorundergroundtotheseaandstartthecyclealloveragain.

    We must manage the land to manage water.Ifwearetomanagelandandwaterintelligently,weneedtoknowhowandwhywaterbehavesthewayitdoes.

    the water cycle

    CloUD forMation

    preCipitation (rain)

    tranSpiration

    evaporation

    groUnDwater

    perColation (Soak-in)

    SUrfaCe rUnoff

    StreaM to oCean

  • 28 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    How Water Behaves.

    the Hydrologic CycleLetsbeginwiththesea,wherethesunsenergydrawsupintotheatmospheremostofthewaterthattravelsthroughthehydrologiccycle.Thisprocessisknownasevaporation.

    Muchofthemoistureevaporatedintotheairsoonfallsbackintotheseaduringstorms,butwindseventuallydocarryairmasseswithmoistureinthemoverland.Asmallpartofthemoisture,orwater vapor,intheairatanytimemightbevisibletousasclouds,fog,ormist.Whenthewatervaporincloudscondenses,wegettherain,snow,sleet,orhailthatfallsonEarthcalledprecipitation.

    Asairmassesmoveacrosstheland,theairpicksupmoremoisture.Waterfromlakes,ponds,rivers,andevenfrombirdbathsandpuddlesonthesidewalk,evaporatesandreturnsmoisturetotheair.Thesoilitselfgivesupmoistureaswindsmoveacrossit.

    Anotherwaymoisturegetsintotheairisfromlivingplants.Moistureabsorbedlargelybyplantrootsfromthesoilandotherplantpartsfromtheatmospheremovesintotheairduringtheplantslife.Thisreleaseofwatervaporfromplantsiscalledtranspiration.

    Differentplantstranspiregreatlydifferentamountsofwaterdependingonfactorssuchashumidity,moisture,temperature,andwind.Alargeoakorotherhardwoodtree,forexample,cantranspire500gallonsofwaterinaday.Indrycountry,wheremoistureforgrowingcropsandforotherpurposesisbadlyneeded,plantsthatarenotconsideredusefulbutthattranspirelargequantitiesofwatersometimesmustberemovedtoconserveseverelylimitedwater.

    Evaporation is one

    of natures ways

    of purifying water,

    because most of

    the dissolved

    substances in it,

    such as the salt in

    seawater, remain

    behind when

    water evaporates.

    Chemical reactions

    return small

    amounts of water

    to the atmosphere.

    People, animals,

    and plants return

    some through

    the process

    of respiration

    (breathing), and

    the combustion, or

    burning, of fuels in

    cars and furnaces

    returns additional

    amounts.

    Toseetranspirationhappeningforyourself,trythisexperiment.Placeanairtight,transparentplasticbagoveracommonpottedhouseplantandtieitfairlytightlyaroundtheplantstemnearthesurfaceofthesoil.Thensettheplantinthesunlight.Soonyouwillseedropsofwatercollectingontheinsideoftheplasticbag.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 29

    .How Water Behaves

    evaporation and Precipitation in BalanceEvaporationandprecipitationarethemostsignificantprocessesintheendlesshydrologiccyclethatisalwaysatworkoverEarthsentiresurface.Theamountofmoistureincirculationhasremainedaboutthesamethroughouttheages.The95,000cubicmilesofwaterincirculationinthehydrologiccycletodayprobablyisaboutthesameasitwasinancienttimes.

    Ifalltheworldsprecipitationonlandwereevenlydistrib-uted,about26inchesofmoisturewouldfallannuallyonallland.Butprecipitationisnotevenlydistributed.Someplacesgetlessthananinchandothersmorethan400inches.AverageannualprecipitationintheUnitedStatesisabout30inches.InthearidWest,thereisverylittlerainprobably4to8inchesinayear.AndalongtheCascadeRangeofmountainsinOregonandWashington,about100inchesofrainandsnowfalleachyear.

    Togetsomeideaofthequantitiesofwaterinvolvedinthecycle,pretendthatanordinarybathtubfilledtothetoprepresentsallthewaterintheoceans.Comparedwiththat,theamountofwatercirculatinginthehydrologiccyclewouldfillanordinarywaterglassabouttwo-thirdsfull.

    Precipitation maps like this one of the Pacific northwest show the areas average precipitation.

    average annUal preCipitation, paCifiC northweSt, 19611990

    legenD (inCheS)

  • 30 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    How Water Behaves.

    Water and Soil Working togetherinfiltration and PercolationOnEarth,precipitatedwatereithersoaksintothelandorrunsoffoverthesurfaceandiscalledrunoff.Tosatisfytheirmanywantsandneeds,peoplemustcontrolthewaterthatfallsontheland.Thismeansusingandmanagingthelandsothatinmostcasesthemaximumamountofmoistureentersthesoil.Wecandoourparttohelpwatermorereadilyenterthesoilbykeepingplantcoverontheground,slowingrunoff,maintaining

    orincreasingorganicmatterinthesoil,maintaininggoodsoilstructure,andbyusingotherconservationpractices.

    Afterpenetratingsoilthatisalreadywet,watermaycontinuemovingdownwardthroughthesoil

    bypercolation.Percolation,themajormeansbywhichgroundwatersuppliesarereplenished,isimportant,formanycitiesobtainalltheirwaterfromwells.Inmanyplaces,waterforirrigatingcropsalsoispumpedfromdeepinEarth.

    Innature,theremaybealayerofrockorofhardsoilthroughwhichwaterpassesslowlyornotatall.Ifthislayerisnotfarfromthesurface,itmaykeepwaterfrom

    percolatingdeepintoEarth,therebylimitingthespaceforwaterstorageinthesoil.

    The entry of water

    into the soil is

    called infiltration,

    and the rate at

    which water

    penetrates the

    surface of

    the soil is the

    infiltration rate.

    InthetimeofChristopherColumbus,afamilyused3to5gallonsofwateradayforallitspersonalneeds.IntheUnitedStatestoday,ittakesabout1,900gallonsadaytosupporteachpersonforbathing,wateringdomesticanimals,airconditioning,foodpreparation,allmanufacturingprocesses,irrigationforcropproduc-tion,andallotherpurposes.Youcanunderstandwhypeoplenowaremuchmoreconcernedwithwatersupplyandwatercontrolandusethantheywereeveninyourgreat-grandparentsday,whentheaverageuseperpersonwasabout95gallonsaday.

    the percolation rate in this soil was so slow that outflow from a septic tank system rose to the surface instead of draining away underground.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 31

    .How Water Behaves

    Thepercolationrateisimportanttothosewhoneedtoknowhowfastthesoilabsorbswater.Forexample,aseptictanksystemforthedisposalofhouseholdwasteswontfunctionifwatercannotpercolatethroughthesoilfastenough.Peoplewhoirrigategardensandcropspartiallydeterminetheamountofwatertheyneedonthebasisofhowquicklythesoilabsorbswater.Waterthatpercolatesthroughthesoilmightcarrycertainimpurities,suchaschemicalsandbacteria,sothosewhogetwaterfromshallowwellsneedtoknowhowfastandfromwhatsourceswaterpercolatesunderground.

    Capillary ActionAnotherformofwatermovementinthesoiliscapillary action.Inthisprocess,watermovesinalldirections.Afterrainhasperco-latedthroughsoil,athinfilmofwaterthatclingstosoilparticlesandremainsintinysoilporeshelpsdissolveplantnutrientssothatplantscanusethem.Thiscapillaryactionisthesourcefromwhichthefinehairsonplantrootsabsorbwater.

    Not all water that

    enters the soil

    percolates

    through it. Some

    becomes part of

    the soil itself

    though chemical

    and physical

    action as it soaks

    into clay and silt

    particles and the

    pieces of decayed

    and decaying

    organic matter

    we call humus.

    Todemonstratecapillaryaction,getaflatpanandfillitwithaninchofwater.Init,placeaclaypotfilledwithacommonhouseplantgrowinginsoilthathasbeenallowedtobecomequitedry.Withinafewhoursyouwillseethatthesurfaceofthesoilinthepotismoist.Bycapillaryaction,waterhasrisenthroughthesoilinthepot.

    Waterpercolatesthroughdifferentsoilsatdifferentrates.Toillustratethis,putsandinasmallflowerpotthathasaholeinthebottom.Packclaysoilinaniden-ticalpot.Thenpourwaterintoeachpotuntilitflowsthroughthesandandclayandoutthebottom.Noticethedifferenceinthelengthoftimeittakesforwatertobegintotricklethroughthebottomofeachpot.

  • 32 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    How Water Behaves.

    Itcouldtakecapillaryactionseveralweekstomovewaterupwardindrysoilonlyabout3feet.Oncedrynessbreaksthefilmofcapillarymoistureonsoilparticles,watercannotmovebycapillaryactionagainuntilthemoisturesupplyisrenewedandthefilmreestablished.Sincethistakestime,capillaryactionmightnotmovewateravailableafteralongdryperiodtotheplantrootssoonenoughtosavewiltingplants.

    the Water tableSoilthatistoowetcanbeasdamagingtoplantsassoilthatistoodry.Insomeplaces,amajorproblemismovingwateroffthelandsothatitwillnotsettletheretowaterlogthesoil,therebycuttingofftheairtoplantrootsandtosmallsoilorganismsthatneedoxygen.Whenthewater tablethelevelbelowwhichthesoilisfilledcompletelywithwaterisonlyafewinchesbelowthesoilsurface,thegrowthofplantrootsisrestrictedandmanyplantscannotgrow.Wherethewatertablefrequentlyrisestowithinafewfeetofthesurface,watercanseepintobasements.Whensomesoilsbecomemuchwetterthanusual,theyslipandsettle,crackingplasterandshiftingbuildingfoundations.

    Becausepeopleneedafairlyconstantsupplyofwaterformanydifferentuses,damsandreservoirsarebuilttocontrolandstorewaterfromthemeltingsnowsforlateruse.

    Butsnowfallvariesfromyeartoyear,andthestoragecapacityofreservoirsislimited.Toplanwiselyforthestreamflowtheycanexpect,peopleuseinformationfromsnowsur-veys,whichmeasuresnowfall.Fromthat,andotherfactors,theycanpredictthestreamflowforthecomingseason.Thosewhomanagereservoirsthatstorefloodwaterscanreleaseenoughwaterfromthereservoirsearlytomakeroomforthewaterfromrapidlymeltingsnowupstream,andthuscontrolaflood.Whentheyknowtheywillhavelesswaterthanusual:

    Citiescanlimitwateruseearlyintheseasonandperhapsavoidwaterrationing.

    Farmerscanplantoplantfeweracresofwater-thirstycropsandthusavoidhavingcropsonsomeacresdieforlackofwater.

    Hydroelectricplantoperatorscanplantouseotherpowersourcestoproduceelectricity.

    The runoff that

    collects in creeks

    and streams and

    eventually flows

    from rivers into

    lakes and

    reservoirs is the

    source of most

    of the water we

    use. It is also the

    source of nearly

    all water that

    wildlife uses.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 33

    .How Water Behaves

    Forecastingtheflowofriversandstreamsisimportantevery-where.However,itisdifficulttopredictbecauserainrunsoffthelandsoonafteritfalls,andwedonotknowhowmuchrainwillfall.Still,rainfall,streamflow,andgroundwaterrecordsaccumulatedovertheyearshelpexpertsdeterminetheexpectedflowfromlargerstreamsandrivers.Theserecordsalsohelpforecasterspredictaccuratelythepossibilityofflood-ingdownstreamcausedbyheavyandwidespreadrainfallmanymilesupstream.

    Rainfalldeterminestheamountofstreamflowinmostpartsofournation,exceptfortheWest,wherethewintersnowsinmountainousregionsarethegreatreservoirsofwaterthatdeterminethevolumeofstreamflow.

    during a typical snow season, from January to June, surveyors travel more than 50,000 miles to measure the depth of the snow to help determine the snows water content and the amount of moisture in the soil below the snow.

    The water that

    comes from

    melting snow is

    vital to plants,

    people, and

    wildlife that live

    hundreds of miles

    away in dry

    country where

    little rain falls.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 35

    .Causes and effects of erosion

    CausesandEffectsofErosionYouhavewatchedtheforceofmovingwaterfromahoseorhydrantpushdirtevenpebblesandrocksoffadrivewayorsidewalk.Rainandrunningwateractonthebaresoilinagarden,onthesitewhereanewbuildingisbeingconstructed,inafarmersfield,oronacutbankalongahighwayinthesamewayasthestreamfromahose.Theprocessbywhichbeatingrainandmovingwaterdislodgeandcarrysoilparticles,organicmatter,andplantnutrientstoanewlocationiscalledsoil erosion by water.

    Whereveryoulive,youhaveseenthewindpickupandcarrydustandlargerparticlesofloosematerialsfromoneplacetoanother.Youmayhaveobservedthatthereusuallyismoredustanddirtintheairwhenithasntrainedforalongtime.Wheredoesthewindbestpickupanddepositdust,dirt,andsandparticles?Closetotreesorbuildings,oroutinopenstreetsandspaces?

    Huge clouds of blowing soil during the dust bowl days of the 1930s were called rollers.

    Soil erosion by

    water can occur

    where and when

    there is enough

    rain or melting

    snow and ice

    so that water

    quickly runs off

    the surface of

    the land.

  • 36 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Causes and effects of erosion.

    Wheneverwindmovesacrossabareorpoorlycoveredsoilsurface,especiallyifthelandisdryandthesoilcontainsmostlyfineandlooseparticles,soilblowing,orsoil erosion by wind,occurs.SeverewinderosionoccurredintheGreatPlainsregioninthe1930s.Then,thewindcarrieddensecloudsofsur-facesoilmorethan1,500mileseasttotheAtlanticcoast.Thedroughtbrokein1938,whenlife-givingrainreturned.

    Geologic erosionNatural,orgeologic,erosionbeganwhentheairfirststirredandtherainfirstfellonEarth.Itcontinuestodayandisespe-ciallynoticeableindryregionswherethereislittlevegetation,andinfrequentbutintenserainscarvehillsandscourvalleys.Geologicerosionusuallymovessoslowlythat,whenthereismuchnativeplantcover,soilisbuiltupandseldomdestroyed,andinalifetimeonecouldscarcelyseethechangeitbrings.

    Throughouttheages,geologicerosionhasshapedEarthsface;ithelpedcrumblerockstoformsoils,anditworeawaymountainstomakebroadplainsandvalleys.

    CUt by water weathereD SanDStone glaCiateD

    natural erosion

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 37

    .Causes and effects of erosion

    Accelerated erosion and SedimentOurconcernistheacceleratederosionofsoilthatresultsfromhumanactivities.Soilandwaterconservationprojectshelpcontroltherateofthiskindofsoilerosion,whichsomecallthegreatestscourgetheworldhaseverknown.Itaffectseveryone.

    Youmayhaveseenamuddycreekorriver.Youdontwanttoplayinitandyoucertainlydontwanttodrinkfromit.Inmanysmallstreams,sedimentfillsthedeeppoolsthatprovidearefugeforfishduringthedryseason.Sedimentoftendamagesthespawningbedsofgamefish,ruinstheireggs,andreducestheirfoodsupply.Fisheattheworms,insectlarva,andothersmallaquaticanimalsthatfeedonmicroscopicplantsinthewaterbutmuddywaterfiltersoutlightandsointerfereswiththegrowthofmicroscopicplants.IthascausedoysterstodisappearfromtheChesapeakeBay,affectingcommercialfisheries.

    Whenflood-preventionandothertypesofreservoirsarebuilt,allowancemustbemadeforthesedimentation.Eachyear,morethanhalfabillioncubicyardsofsedimentmustbedredgedfromharborsandothernavi-gationchannelsinordertokeepthesevitalwatertransportationroutesworking.Muchofthecostforremovalispassedontotaxpayers.

    DaMage froM flooDing eroSion froM poor farMing MethoDS

    gUlly eroSion froM UnControlleD rUnoff

    Accelerated erosion

  • 38 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Causes and effects of erosion.

    Sedimentremovalmakeswaterpurificationmuchmoreexpensiveformanycitiesandtowns.Asaresult,waterbillsgoup.Sedimentinwateralsocausescostlywearonmachines,asinhydroelectricplants.

    Evenmoreimportantandcostlyisthesedimentthatfillslakes,reservoirs,navigationchannels,harbors,androadsideditches.Reservoirslosestoragecapacityeachyearasaresultofsediment.Eventually,thesedimentmustberemovedoranewreservoirconstructed.Somecitywaterreservoirshavebeenfilledcompletelywithsedimentinfewerthan30years.

    Eachyear,moreriversfloodbecausesedimentchokesstreamchannels.Inadditiontofloodwaterdamage,sedimentcandamagestreets,houses,automobiles,parks,camps,andmachinery.Muchofthissedimenthastoberemovedbyhand.Rainandwindalsospreadsedimentovercropland,destroyingcropsandmakingthesoillessusefulforgrowingplants.Drainageandirrigationditchesbecomelesseffectiveastheyarecloggedwithsediment.Thus,sedimentreducestheamountandqualityofcrops.

    Nowyoucanunderstandhowpollutingsedimentaffectseveryoneinsomeway.Becauseallsedimentstemsfromerosion,whichdestroystheusefulnessoftheland,weneedtoknowmoreabouthowerosionoccurs,howtorecognizeitasitstarts,andwhattodoaboutit.

    in large amounts, such as caused by accelerated erosion, sediment can be a pollutant and create costly problems. this small reservoir is rapidly becoming filled by sediment.

    Sediment is

    caused by soil

    particles that

    are moved and

    deposited by

    wind, water,

    or glaciers.

    Sedimentation

    can quickly cause

    small ponds to

    become nothing

    more than mud

    holes; some ponds

    have filled with

    sediment in only a

    couple of years.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 39

    .Causes and effects of erosion

    Soil erosion by WaterTheforceofasingleraindropwontmovemuchsoil.Butwhenbillionsofraindropstogetherhammeragainstbareground,theytearclumpsofsoilapartandseparatethetinyparticlesfromeachother.Astheybounceintotheairafterstrikingtheground,theraindropscarrysomesoilparticleswiththem;thesebitsofsoilgraduallymovedownhill.Thisiscalledsplash erosion.

    Wheneverrainfallsorsnowmeltssofastthatthewatercannotsoakintothesoil,asheetofwatercollectsonthesurfaceandmovesdownhill.Onslopinglandwithlittlevegetation,suchasanewbuildingsite,anovergrazedpasture,oranewlyplowedfield,thecombinedactionofbeatingraindropsandflowingwatercontinuouslywashesawaythinlayersofsurfacesoil.Thisiscalledsheet erosion.Thedamagecausedbysheeterosionoftenisnotapparentuntilmuchofthesurfaceiswashedaway.

    Aswatermovesoverthelandsurface,collectsinlittlestreams,andcontinuestorundownaslope,ittearsawaymoresoilparticlesuntilitcarvessmall,irregularchannelscalledrills.Calledrill erosion,itcanbeerasedbysmoothingoverthelandsurfaceasafarmerdoeswhencultivating,yetthesoilisgone.

    After a rain, you

    can see evidence

    of splash erosion

    in the small bits of

    soil that cling to

    the walls of

    buildings, the

    leaves of plants,

    and picket fences.

    Sheet erosion

    is happening

    wherever muddy

    water moves off

    bare ground

    without cutting

    channels in

    the soil.

    three kinds of soil erosion by water: sheet erosion (top), gully erosion (left), and rill erosion (right).

  • 40 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Causes and effects of erosion.

    Gullies leave

    gaping channels

    in the land, feed

    huge amounts

    of sediment into

    creeks and

    reservoirs, divide

    fields into areas

    too small to be

    useful, and cut

    deep scars into

    steeply sloping

    land where new

    buildings are

    being erected.

    Wind erosion

    Onmuchslopingland,thesmallrillsjoinsomewhereontheslopetomakelargerchannels.Asmorewatercollectsinthesechannels,itsforceisincreased;itbeginstoripawaylargerandlargerpiecesofsoil.Whenwaterfallsoverasuddendrop,itbeginstocutintotheslopeitself.Whenlargerchannelsform,thereisgullyerosion.Ittakesmorethanordinarycultiva-tiontofillingullies,fortheyaresodeepthatmachinesusuallycannotcrossthem.Thesedestructivegulliesoftenareasignthatsheetandrillerosionhavebeengoingonforalongtime.

    Soil erosion by WindThesanddunesweseeinsomedesertareasandneartheshoresofsomelakesandoceansareobviouslyresultsofwinderosion.Thewind-shiftedsandsofthesedunesarehardtocon-trol.Becauseplantscannoteasilybeestablishedthere,thesandoftencontinuestoadvanceandcoverevenlargerareas.Muchmoreseriouswinderosionoccurs,however,whereverloose,smallsoilparticlesaremovedbythewind.

    Soilblowingusuallystartsonlandthathasfewplantsandsandysoils.Oncesoilblowingstarts,ittendstospread.Thewindpicksupafewloosesoilparticles,andwhenthesestrikebareground,theyblastlooseotherparticlesthatinturnarebouncedandsweptalongthegroundsurface,causingfurthererosion.Theblowingsoilparticlescancutofftender,growingplantsatthegroundsurface.Ortheycancoverbothgrowinganddeadvegetationwithdriftsandmoundsofdustorsand.Whenthegrowingplantsarecutoff,thesoiltheyprotectedfromthewindwillerode.Ifhighwindscontinueforalongtime,thesoilblowingcanspreadoveranentirecommunity.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 41

    .Causes and effects of erosion

    erosion, Plants, and PeopleWhyhasntallthesoilbeensplashed,washed,andblownawaybythistime?Youcandiscovertheanswertothisquestion.Haveyoueverseendustblowingfromalawnthathasathickgrasscover?Haveyoueverseenmudsplashupafterarainfromsoilcoveredwithgrass?Thegrassbroketheforceofthefallingwater,anditsrootsheldthesoiltightlyinplace.

    Inthesameway,plantsbreaktheforceoffallingraindrops.Theirrootshelpwaterenterthesoilbykeepingitporous.Theyholdthesoilparticlestogethersothatmovingwatercannotbreaktheparticlesapartandcarrythemaway.Plantsalsoslowdownrunningwater,therebyallowingsometimeforittosoakin.Plantsgrowingcloselytogetherprotectthesoilfromstrongwinds.Thetopsoftheplantsslowdownthewind,andtherootshelpholdthesoilinplace.

    IfwearetocontinuetoliveandtoenjoylifeonEarth,wemustconservetheland.

    Though a natural

    disaster can

    remove all the

    plants from an

    area and expose

    the surface soil

    to the ravages of

    wind and rain,

    the area affected

    is very small

    compared with

    the area people

    have carelessly

    used and left

    unprotected.

    Somecallsoilerosionadiseaseofcivilizationbecausenearlyallofitistheresultofhumanactivities:

    Cuttingdownforestsandmakingnoplansfornewgrowth

    Growingcropsandleavingthesoilbarefortoolong

    Leavingthesoilunprotectedduringconstruction

    Overgrazing,therebykillingthevegetation

    Buildinghighwaysandrailroadswithoutprotectingtheirbanks

    Crowdingwildlifesothattheydestroythevegetationintheirsearchforfood

    Tramplingthegrassandotherplantstodeathinrecreationalareas

    Destroyingvegetaionthroughcarelessuseoffire

    Strippingthelandsurfacetoobtainfuelsandmineralsfromtheearth

    Usingthesoilimproperlyforanypurpose

  • 42 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Causes and effects of erosion.

    Problems of runoffWhenerosionreducesthedepthofthesurfacesoil,runoffgenerallyincreases.Whenrunoffincreases,soilerodesmorerapidly,acceleratingthecycle.Butplantshelpsoilabsorbwaterandprotectthesurfacesoilfromtheerosiveactionofwater.

    Whenweuse,remove,orchangethekindofplantsontheland,weusuallychangethequantityandqualityofrunoff.Forexample,iftreesandgrassareclearedfromanareaforhousing,weknowthatmorewaterwillrunoffthelandmorequicklyandtherunoffwillbemuddy.Afterthehousesarebuilt,thestreetsarepavedandcommunityfacilitiesareerected,muchofthesoilontheareathatwasclearediscoveredwithhardsurfaces.Runofffromthisbuilt-upareacanbeasmuchas10timesgreaterandwilloccurmuchmorequicklythanwhenthelandwascoveredwithtreesandgrass.

    Polluted RunoffWaterrunningoffthelandpicksupmanypollutantsasitmoves.Thisisamainsourceofwhatiscallednonpoint source pollution(NPS);thatis,thepollutiondoesntcomefromaspecificsource,suchasanindustrialsiteorsewage-treatmentplant.TheU.S.EnvironmentalProtectionAgencypointstoseveralpollutants:

    Excessuseoffertilizers,herbicides,andinsecticides

    Oil,grease,andtoxicchemicalsthatrunoffthroughourcitiesandfromenergyproduction

    Bacteriafromlivestockmanure,petwastes,andfaultysepticsystems

    Saltfromirrigationpracticesandaciddrainagefromabandonedmines

    TheEPApointsoutthateachofuscancontributetotheproblemwithoutevenrealizingit.Buteachofuscan,andmust,helpcombatpollution,too.Federal,state,andlocalagenciesmustworkwithindividualstopreventorminimizethiskindofpollution.(Source:http://epa.gov/owow/nps/qa.html)

    Soil erosion is

    commonplace on

    developing lands.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 43

    .Causes and effects of erosion

    Similarly,whenovergrazingisallowed,theamountandspeedofrunoffincreaseanderosionoccursmuchmorereadilythanwhengrazingismanagedsothatgrassandotherplantsremainhealthy.Firealsocanremoveplantcoverfromthelandandexposebaresoiltobeatingrains;then,muddyrunoffflowsdownslopesandfillsstreamsandlakeswithsediment.Thedamagetoacityswatersupplycanbedevastating.

    Plantcoverisimportantincontrollingrunoff,butinmanyinstancesitisnotpossibletokeepplantsgrowingontheland.Sometimesthesurfaceofthelandneedstobeshapedtoguideandcontrolrunoff.Smalldamsandothertypesofwater-retardingstructuresoftenmustbebuilttocontrolrunoffsothatthelandandthewaterarenotdamaged.

    erosion in Urban AreasWeoftenthinkoferosionproblemsasmostimportantonfarmsandranches,yetthegreatesterosionproblemsoccurwhenlandinornearcitiesisbeingshiftedtouseforhomes,shop-pingcenters,andotherurbanpurposes.Payattentiontosignsofconservationproblemsinyourareamudinnearbystreetgutters,onsidewalks,orinacornerofyouryard;barespotsinlawns,ontheschoolyard,oronslopingbanks;amuddycreekorriver.Learningmoreaboutsoilandwaterconservationwillhelpyoubecomeawareofsomeoftheconservationproblemsyourcommunitymightface.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 45

    .Conservation on the land

    ConservationontheLandPeopleareconstantlychangingtheusesofland.Theremightnowbeabuildingunderconstructiononthevacantlotwhereyouplayedlastyear.Perhapsaroadwaythatcutsthroughhillsandfillsinlowplaceshasbeenconstructed.ChangesinlanduseprobablyarebeingmadeatyourScoutcampeachyear.Farmers,ofcourse,rotatecropseachyearand,astheydoso,theycanmakegreatchangesonthefaceofthelandscape.

    Asareasbecomemorepopulatedandnewhouses,stores,factories,andschoolsareneeded,andaspeoplechangetheirmindsaboutwhattheywantfromtheland,therewillbemoreandmoreshiftsinlanduse.Duringchangesinlanduse,thesoiloftencanbeleftunprotectedandsubjecttodamagebywaterandwind,asyouveread.Impropercareoflandcanresultincostlyandseriousdamagetosoilandwaterresources.

  • 46 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Conservation on the land.

    Conservation PracticesAconservation practiceisanyspecificactionorprocesstocarefornaturalresourcessotheyareprotectedfromdamageandimprovedforcertainuses.Insomeinstances,agoodconserva-tionpracticemightbecompleteeliminationofsomeonesuseofapieceofland,leavingitjustforsceneryandwildlife.Manyconservationpracticeshelptofurnishthethingsthatallwildlifemusthavefood,shelter,andwater.Evenincities,anamazingvarietyofwildlifecouldappeariftheseneedsareprovidedforinsmallareas.

    Good conservation

    practices are

    properly designed,

    carefully

    implemented,

    and tested.

    Youcannowrecognizemanyofthefamiliarsignsoftroublethatcanbetracedtopooruseoflandandlackofproperconservationmeasures:

    Mudandsiltonsidewalksanddrivewaysafterarain

    Exposedtreerootswherethesoilhasbeenwashedaway

    Roadsideditchesfilledwithsediment

    Muddywaterinastreamorriver

    Caved-instreambanks

    Rillsandchannelsonexposedroadbanks

    Baresoilwherethereoncewasgrassonyourcampsite

    Smallandlargegulliesscarringthefaceoftheland

    However,muchlandiswiselyused,andconservationispracticedonmillionsofacresinthecountrysideaswellasincitiesandsuburbs.

    Sure signs of conservation at work are the large, graceful, curving strips of crops you can see on many farms. these winding ribbons include the dark green of grasses and the gold of ripening grains.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 47

    .Conservation on the land

    Professionalconservationistshavesolvedmanyconservationproblems.Somepracticesmaybesuitableonlyforapplicationoncroplands,rangelands,orforestlands.Becauseplantsarethegreatprotectorsoflandsurfaces,mostpracticesinvolvetheuseandmanagementofplantssothattheycanholdsoilinplace.Whenwewanttouselandforsuchthingsasbuildings,campsites,orcrops,weoftenhavetouseengineeringtoproperlychangetheshapeofthelandsurfacetouseandcontrolwater.Vegetationandengineeringconservationpracticesoftenmustbeusedtogethertobeeffective.

    Conservation

    buffers help

    prevent blowing

    soil in windy areas,

    reduce flooding,

    and provide

    wildlife habitat.

    Conservation BuffersGrassedwaterwaysandwindbreaksaretwokindsofconservation buffers(orbufferstrips),aspecialprac-ticeencouragedbytheU.S.DepartmentofAgriculture.Conservationbuffersaresmallareasorstripsoflandkeptinpermanentvegetation.Theseareasthenhelpcontrolsoilerosionandpollutionbybreakingupandslowingthemovementofrunoff,sediment,andotherpollutantswithinfieldsandfromfieldtofield.

    TheUSDAlaunchedtheNationalConservationBufferInitiativein1997.Throughthisinitiative,publicandprivateagenciesareworkingtogethertohelplandownerscreate2millionmilesofconservationbuffersintheUnitedStates.(Source:NaturalResourcesConservationService.)

    Grassed contour buffer strips cover an entire field in iowa.

  • 48 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Conservation on the land.

    Working With vegetationApplyingathinlayeroforganicmaterialonthelandsurfacetoholdsurfacesoilinplacewhilegrassorothernewlyseededplantsbecomeestablishediscalledmulching.Often,mulchingisusedonroadbanks,newlawns,thebacksideofearthdams,andcroplandswherewindorwatermighterodesoil.

    Contour plantingiswhencrops,fruittrees,andgardenplantsaregrownonslopingland,acrosstheslopeonthelevel(whereallplacesalongacontourlineareofequalelevation)ratherthanuphillanddownhill.Contourplantingreduceserosionandismosteffectivewithcropsgrowninrows.Itisusedwidelyonfarmsandshouldbeusedingardensorwhereverplantsarecultivatedonslopingland.

    Strip-croppingisthegrowingofcropsinbroadornarrowbandsorstripsacrossthegeneralslopeofafieldorlargegarden.Cropsarearrangedsothatastripofgrassorotherclose-growingcropisalternatedwithastripofclean-tilledcropwheresomeofthesoilsurfaceisexposed.Theclose-growingcropslowsrunofffromtheclean-tilledstrip.Stripcroppingoftenisdoneonthecontour.Wheresoilblowingcausesproblems,thestripsareatanglestothedirectionofprevailingwindstohelppreventwinderosion.

    Growingtemporarycropsofplantsthatcoverthesoilbetweenseasonsorbetweenrowsofamaincroptoprotectthesoilfromerosioniscalledcover cropping.Itcanbeusedingardens,onfarms,andonconstructionsiteswheresoilmightbeexposedforaseasonbeforepermanentvegetationcanbeestablished.

    Contour strip-cropping combines the benefits of both contour planting and strip-cropping.

    Cover crop in a pear orchard

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 49

    .Conservation on the land

    Streambankscanbeprotectedagainsterosionandwater-scouringbyusingplants,rocks,orstructuralmeasures.Specificmethodsincludeestablishingcertaintypesofgrassafterslopingthebanks,plantingsuchtreesaswillowsandalderbelowthetopsofthebanks,orplacingathicklayerofrocksorcombina-tionofwood,rock,andplantsalongthebanks.

    Planting,thinning,pruning,andproperlyharvestingwoodlandscanprovideenoughgrowingspaceforgoodtrees,eliminatepoortrees,establishstandsofspeciesbestsuitedtothesoilandclimate,maintainnaturalbeauty,improvecondi-tionsforwildlife,andmaintaincoverforerosioncontrol.Thesetechniquesalsomakeitpossibletoobtainwoodproductswith-outdamagingsoilandwaterresources.

    Working With Wind and WaterTreesand/orshrubscanbeusedaswindbreakstoreducetheeffectsofdamagingwinds.Windbreakshelpcontrolsoilblowinginfields;protecthomes,otherbuildings,anddelicateplantsfromcoldwinterwinds;reduceevaporationfromsoil;andtrapsnow(necessaryalongfarmfields,especiallyintheGreatPlains).Theyalsoaddcomfortandbeautytosuburbanhomesandprovidefoodandhomesformanykindsofwildlife.

    Screens of trees,

    shrubs, or vines

    can be planted

    to block views of

    unsightly things

    such as garbage

    cans, junkyards,

    and dumps; to

    shield homes and

    people from traffic

    and other noises;

    and otherwise to

    beautify an area.

    Stream bank protection

    tree and shrub windbreaks

  • 50 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Conservation on the land.

    Terracing,orconstructingridgesofearth,controlswaterrunoffinwetareasandconservesmoistureindryareas.Theridgescanbeaslowasafewinchesorashighas2feetormore.Thedistancebetweenterracesmustbedesignedsothattherunoffcanflowtoeachterracewithoutovertoppingit.

    Agrassed waterwayisanaturalorartificialdrainagetowhichrunoffflowsafterastorm.Excesswatercanbechanneledfromafield,garden,orotherareatothispermanentcoverofgrass.Thegrassprotectsthechannelfromerosionandhelpskeepsedimentoutofthewater.

    Aconstructedpoolorbasinformedbyplacingadamorbarrieracrossawaterwayatasuitablelocationtotrapandholdsedimentiscalledasediment basin.Toguiderunoffintobasins,contour diversions,orshallowditchesthatfollowthecontouronslopes,aresometimesused.

    Terracing is

    needed on sloping

    soils in gardens,

    around homes and

    buildings, and on

    cropped lands.

    drop spillway.

    A concrete, metal,

    or wood structure

    used to slow the

    velocity of water

    and control

    gullying and

    drop water to

    a lower level.

    terracing

    to be effective, a grassed waterway must be designed to carry the volume of water it will receive.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 51

    .Conservation on the land

    Apond,areservoirofwatermadebybuildingadamorembankment,couldbeassmallasafewfeetoraslargeasseveralacreswide.Amongitsmanyusefulpurposesfishproduction,waterforlivestockandwildlife,recreation,fireprotectionitenhancestheappearanceofcamps,homes,andfarms.

    Floodwater-retarding structuresaredams,embankments,orotherdevicesbuilttoprovidetemporarystorageandcontrolledreleaseoffloodwater.

    Working With Wildlife Wildlife habitat developmentisanimportantpartofconservationandincludesplantingshrubs,trees,andmanyotherkindsofvegetationtofurnishfood,cover,andshelterforwildlife;creatingwatersupplies;makingopeningsindensewoods;limitingtheuseofanarea;andmanyotherprojectstoattractandprovidefortheneedsofwildlife.Oftenthesepracticesareapartofotherconservationworkonfarms,ranches,andaroundhomes,inparks,onschoolgrounds,andinotheropenareasincities.

    Wildlife wetland developmentsimproveorcreatehabitatsbyditching,diking,orothermeansofprovidingappropriateamountsofwater,andbyestablishingplantstoprovidefood,cover,andshelter.Thisincludeslimitingotherusesofthewetlandandmaintainingthemeasuresinstalled.

    A sediment basin temporarily holds sediment on property where construction is under way and in other places to keep sediment and debris out of reservoirs, lakes, and streams.

    Wetland developments can be used wherever enough water and land are available.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 53

    .Conservation in Watersheds

    ConservationinWatershedsAsrainfallsonthelandandmakesitswaybacktotheoceans,itgathersinstreamsandrivers.Theareaoflandfromwhichwaterrunsoffyourownbackyard,avacantlot,orjustaboutanywhereandtravelstoaspecificstreamoroutletiscalledawatershed.Whereveryoulive,youareinawatershed.

    Hundredsofsmallwatershedswiththeirlittlestreamsarepartof,andliewithin,largewatershedsthataredrainedbyrivers.Awatershedboundarymaynotbeobviouswherethelandisnearlylevel,butinmanyplaces,thebound-arymightbeplainlymarkedbyhighridges.Waterthatflowsonewayfromtheridgegoesintoonewatershed,whilewaterflowingofftheothersideoftheridgegoesintoanotherwatershed.

    Onewaytodeterminetheboundariesofawatershedistolookatatopographic,orcontour,map.Onsuchamapcontourlinesrepresentasingleelevation;allpointsalongacontourlineareequalinelevation.Ifyouactuallywalkedalongsuchalineontheland,youwouldalwaysbewalkingonthelevel,nevergoinguphillordownhill.Sincewateralwaysrunsdownhill,youcanlocateonthetopographicmaptheareasofhighgroundfromwhichwaterdrainsinsomekindofpatterntoalowerelevation.

    Watershedscomeinallsizes,fromthosenotmuchbig-gerthanafootballfieldtothosethatcontainmillionsofacresoflandandincludeseveralstates,suchastheMississippiRiverwatershed.

  • 54 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Conservation in Watersheds.

    the Watershed CommunityGeologistJohnWesleyPowell,emphasizingthewebofnature,definedawatershedasthatareaofland...withinwhichalllivingthingsareinextricablylinkedbytheircommonwatercourse.Theselinkedlivingthingsarethewatershed communitytheanimals,birds,plants,fish,andpeoplewholiveinawatershed.

    Wildlife is part of the watershed community.

    Yourmeritbadgecounselorcanhelpyoufindatopographicorcontourmapforyourarea.Youmightbeabletolookatamapatthelocalofficeofmostgovernmentagenciesthatdealwithareasoflandthecityorcountyengineer,planningcommission,NaturalResourcesConservationService,ForestService,NationalParkService,BureauofLandManagement,U.S.FishandWildlifeService,oryourstategeologicalsurveyoffice.AlsocheckyourScoutcampslibraryforatopographicmapofthecampproperty.

    Youmaybeabletoobtaintopographicmapsfromalocalsportinggoodsstoreorbookstore.YoualsocanfindlocaldealersinyourstateattheU.S.GeologicalSurveyWebsite,http://www.usgs.gov,orbysendingapostcardforinformationtotheU.S.GeologicalSurveyNationalCenter,12201SunriseValleyDrive,Reston,VA20192.

    See the

    Orienteering merit

    badge pamphlet

    for more on

    topographic maps.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 55

    .Conservation in Watersheds

    Runoffdoesntstopatartificialboundariessuchascountylines,citylimits,orthefencearoundyouryard.Allthepeople,plants,andanimalsareaffectedbywhathappenstothewaterandthelandinthewatershed;theydependonthewatershedandtheyinfluencewhathappensthere.Whenrunofffromhundredsofsmallstreamsentersalargerstream,floodingoftenoccurs.Inadditiontoslowingdownrunofffromindividualfields,yards,gardens,andparks,watershedresidentsworkingtogethercanbuildflood-preventiondams.Theyalsocouldadvisepeoplenottobuildhomes,offices,andfactoriesonfloodplains.

    Cityandregionalplannersalsoexplorewaystomakelivingsaferandmorecomfortableforpeoplewhileprotectingsoilandwaterresources.Theytrytopersuadelocalgovernmentstosetasidefloodplainsforrecreationalareas,foropenspace,andforotherusesthatcannotbegreatlydamagedbyflooding.

    Because land,

    water, and other

    resources are

    so closely tied

    together in a

    watershed, the

    most natural way

    for people to solve

    conservation

    problems is by

    working together.

    Whenpoorlyorimproperlytreatedwasteisreleasedintostreamsfromsewersystemsorindustry,orallowedtorunoffcarryingsedimentandharmfulmaterialsintostreams,thepollutedwaterisaproblemfortheentirewatershedcommunity.

    Becausedevelopmentandgooduseofawatershedbenefitsmanypeople,includingthosewholivefaroutsidethewatershed,thefederalandstategovern-mentssharewithlocalpeoplethecostofdoinglandandwaterconservationwork.Thisprogramofcooper-ativeworkonwatershedprojectsiscarriedoutundertheWatershedProtectionandFloodPreventionActof1954.In1972,majoramendmentsemphasizedwiderenvironmentalconcerns,includingconservation,use,development,anddisposalofwater;andconservationanduseofland.

  • 56 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Conservation in Watersheds.

    Proper Use and Care of landRemember,thecareanduseoflandinyourwatershedisimpor-tanttoyou.Carelesslogging,overgrazing,andconstructionworkthatleaveslargeareasoflandbarewillincreaseerosion,runoff,sedimentation,andpossiblyfloodingalongthestreamsinthewatershed.FiresthathavesweptthroughwatershedsinthewesternUnitedStatesandhavebeenfollowedbyheavyandprolongedrainshavewashedhugeamountsofsoildownhillsides.Insomeplaces,mudslideshavecarriedhousesandotherbuildingswithit.Watersuppliesbecamepolluted.Greatamountsofmoneyandeffortwerespenttorepairthisdamageandtoestablishplantsontheerodedslopes.

    Soilconservationpracticescanhelpreducethedamagingeffectsoffireanderosion,butlocalpeoplemustworktogethertoprotecttheirwatershedsandtheresourcesinthem.Local,state,andfederalgovernmentsoffermuchhelpwithorganizingpeopletoplanandworktogethertocontrolwaterandsoilerosion.Theyalsohelpindividualsplanandcarryoutconservationplansontheirproperty.

    Watershed dams like this one in iowa help control runoff from streams and hold and store sediment.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 57

    .Conservation in Watersheds

    Inwatershedprojects,conservationmeasurestoprotectsoilandwaterresourcescalledland treatmentmightinclude:

    Bettermethodsofcuttingandhaulingouttimber

    Applyingmulchafterseedingbarelandonhighwayroadbanks

    Controllinggrazingtokeepgrassandplantshealthyandgrowing

    Seedinglandthathasbeenclearedforconstruction,overgrazed,orburned

    Constructingterracesandothermeansofcontrollingwater

    Growingandcultivatingcropsoncontours

    Plantingtreestobreaktheforceofthewind

    Inmostwatershedprojects,oneormoresmalldamsareneededtoholdbackrunofftemporarily.Thesedamsusuallyaredesignedtoholdandstoresedimentaswellaswater.Insomecasesitisnecessarytobuildsedimenttraps.Otherconservationpracticesareappliedinconnectionwithmanyofthesereservoirstoimprovewildlifeandrecreationvalues.Suchwatershedprojectsarecalledmultipurpose projects.

    When people in the watershed desire, flood-prevention dams and reservoirs are built larger to hold water for recreation, industry, cities and towns, fish and wildlife, and irrigation, which is what was done with this watershed project in iowa.

  • 58 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Conservation in Watersheds.

    river BasinsThemorethan1millionsquaremilesthatisdrainedbytheMississippiRiverisalargewatershed.Butthisareaisalsocalledariver basin,anareaoflanddrainedbyariverandallitslargeandsmalltributaries.Allriverbasinsarelargewatersheds,butnotallwatershedscanbecalledriverbasinssomewatershedsareverysmallandtheirrunoffiscollectedbyasmallstream.Today,attentionisbeingfocusedonriverbasinsasareasforlarge-scaleplanning,development,andconservationofnaturalresources.

    the continental United States has 18 major river basins; in each basin are combina-tions of rural areas, industrial sites, and cities, and all depend on the water in that basin because very little water moves between river basins.

    Thewaypeopleincitiesalongariverusewaterandthekindsofwastestheyputintotheriverwillaffectindustries,businesses,andcitiesfartherdownstream.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 59

    .Conservation in Watersheds

    Mostriverscrossseveralpoliticalboundariesandmanytypesofterrainastheyflowthroughdifferentstatesonthewaytotheocean.Thewaythatlandandwaterareusedandmanagedinthesmallwatershedsintheupperpartoftheriverbasinaffectsthequalityandquantityofwaterpeopleincitiesdownstreamwillhave.Soindealingwiththecomplexprob-lemsofnaturalresourceuseandpopulationgrowth,attentionmustbegiventotheneedsofallthepeopleintheriverbasinbecausetheriverlinksthemtogether.

    Inplanningimprovementsforawatershedcommunity,manyfactorsmustbeconsidered:floodcontrol,hydroelectricpower,watersupplies,sewagedisposal,airandwaterpollution,locationsforhomesandindustry,openspaceandrecreationareas,fishandwildliferesources,landforcropsandforests.Thougheachstatehasitsownproblems,statesmustworkcooperativelytofindintelligentsolutionstowaterresourceproblems.Severalstatesnowareworkingtogetheronriver-basincommissions.Withthefederalgovernmentshelp,theyaresurveyingthecommunitysneedsandmakingbroadplansforwaterandlandresourcesintheentirebasin.

    the Mississippi river, which runs 2,340 miles long, is part of the Jefferson-Missouri-Mississippi river system, north Americas largest.

  • 60 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Conservation in Watersheds.

    desalinationScientistsandtechniciansareworkinghardtosolvetheproblemofwatersupplyinareasofacutewatershortageneartheoceanbymakingfreshwateroutofsaltyandbrackish(slightlysalty)water.Theprocessofremovingsaltsfromseawaterisknownasdesalinization, desalination,ordesalting.

    Whenwaterevaporates,saltandothersubstancesareleftbehind.Ifwecatchandcondensethewatervaporfromdirtyorsaltywater,wethenhavefreshwater.Thisprocess,calleddistil-lation,haslongbeenusedtoobtainsmallamountsoffreshwaterfromseawater.Butproducingfreshwaterinlargequantitiesbyevaporatingseawaterandcatchingandcondensingthevaporisexpensive,evenifthesourceofheattocauseevaporationsuchasfromthesunisfree.Heatingseawaterbyusingfueloiloranuclearreactorspeedsupevaporationbutaddstothecostofproducingfreshwater.

    LargeseawaterdistillationplantsoperateinKuwait,SaudiArabia,theVirginIslands,GuantanamoBayinCuba,HongKong,andTijuana,Mexico.

    located near the shores of the Caspian Sea, this plant in Aktau, Kazakhstan, is the worlds only nuclear-heated desalination plant.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 61

    .Conservation in Watersheds

    Freezingisanothermethodfortreatingseawater.Whensaltywaterfreezes,theicecrystalsformedarepure.However,whenfreezingisacceleratedinmachines,thecrystalsoficeformedarecoatedwithathinfilmofsaltwater,whichmustbewashedfromthecrystalsbeforetheyaremelted.Thus,itisdifficult(andexpensive)togetlargeamountsoffreshwaterbythismeans.

    Otherdesalinationprocessesusemembranes.Oneofthese, reverse osmosis,isusedtotreatbrackishandslightlysaltywater.Osmosisoccurswhenadilutedsolutionpassesthroughamembraneintoamoreconcentratedsolution,muchaswaterfromthesoilmovesintoplantrootsthroughcellwalls.Thisprocesscanbereversedifsufficientpressureisappliedontheconcentratedorsaltywatersideandfreshwaterwillflowthroughthemembraneoutofthesaltywaterhencethenamereverseosmosis.

    Thenumberofdesalinationplantsisincreasingsteadily,butthewateriscostly.However,cheaperandmoreefficientprocessesfordesalinationareconstantlybeingdeveloped.Thisisanexcitingfieldforstudyandexperimentation.

    Anothermembraneprocessiselectrodialysis,usedmostlyforbrackishwaters.Inthisprocesselectriccurrentisusedinsteadofpressure.Thecurrentcausesthesaltionstomovethroughthemembranes,leavingfreshwaterbehind.

  • .Water Pollution

    WaterPollutionIngeneral,pollutedwateriswaterthatcontainsanythingthatmakesitunfitforaspecificpurpose.Exceptforsmallquantitiesusedinsciencelaboratories,allwatercontainsdissolvedsubstancesandsuspendedmaterials.Eventhesafe,cleanwatermostpeopledrinkisnotabsolutelypure.Instudyingwaterpollution,wemustlearnhowthequalityofwatercanbedamagedbypeople(orinotherways)andhowtoavoidorremedythisdamage.

    Watermightlooksparklingclean,butifitcontainsanybacteriathatcausedisease,itisconsideredunfitforhumanconsumption.Yet,suchwatercouldbesafelyusedfornaviga-tion.Waterthatisfartoodirtyforswimmingmightbeperfectlysuitableforirrigatingcrops.Waterthatissopollutedbyheatthatfishcannotliveinitcouldwellbesafeforbirdstodrink.Wesee,then,thatpartoftheoverallproblemwithwaterpollutionisdecidinghowsafewatermustbeor,ineffect,howmuchpollutionwewilltolerateinwatertobeusedfordifferentpurposes.

    Water is not

    considered

    polluted until the

    kind or quantity

    of material or

    energy added to

    it makes use of

    the water less

    healthful, useful,

    or enjoyable.

    Waterisconsideredpollutedwhenitcontainsanythingsuchasbacteria,insecticides,oil,salt,toxicchemicals,decayingvegetation,orlitterthatmakesitunfitforaspecificpurpose.

  • 64 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Water Pollution.

    Careful Planning is neededIfwearetohavewaterofsuitablequalityforvarioususes,wemustplancarefully,learntousewaterresourcesintelligentlywhilecontrollingpollution,andspendsizablesumsofmoneytocleanupthedamagealreadydonetomanyofourwatersources.

    Broadscaleplanningforuseofwaterresourcesandpollu-tioncontrolisdifficultbecausetherainthatfallsonawater-shedmighttravelinstreamsandriversorundergroundthroughseveralstatesandbeusedmanytimesfordifferentpurposes.Eachcity,eachcommunity,andeachindividualwaterusermusttakeresponsibilityforreturningwatertotheriversingoodconditionandkeepingpollutantsoutofit,sothatthepeo-plefartherdowntheriverwillnothavetocleanupthewaterfortheiruse.Insomecases,cleanupmightnotbepossible,and,ofcourse,plantsandwildlifesufferfromdirtywater.

    TheFederalWaterPollutionControlActamendmentsof1972(collectively,theCleanWaterAct)establishednationalgoalsforcleanwater.Section208oftheactgeneratedtwomajorobjectives:determininglimitationstowastematerialneededtomeetwater-qualitystandards,anddevelopingstate-wideandareawidemanagementplansforreducingpollution.

    The problems of

    water use and

    pollution control

    are a major focus

    of river-basin

    planning. Progress

    is being made in

    developing

    water-quality

    standards that

    apply to waters

    flowing across

    state lines, but

    pollution control

    generally is still

    a matter for action

    through local

    governments, for

    they make many

    of the laws that

    govern water

    use and sources

    of pollution.

    Therearetwobasicsourcesofpollutionpointandnonpoint.Point source pollutionhasanidentifiablelocationfromwhichthepollutantsarecoming,suchasanindustrialorsewage-treatmentplant.Nonpoint source pollutionhasnosingleidentifiablesourceandiscausedbyrunoffmovingover,through,andintotheground,pickinguppollutantsontheway.Itusuallyisassociatedwithchangesinlanduse,orlandusedbeyonditscapabilities.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 65

    .Water Pollution

    Watershed Success StoryOneofthegreatsuccessstoriesofpeopleworkingtogethertomakeandkeepourwatercleanandwildlifehabitatshealthyisthatoftheChesapeakeBay.Thebayswatershedcoversabout64,000squaremilesandincludes150riversthroughpartsofsixstatesandtheDistrictofColumbia.Itisthenationslargestestuary.

    Inthemid-1900s,peoplestartednoticingthatthewaterwasbecomingmoreandmorepolluted.AfterCongresspassedtheCleanAirActandtheCleanWaterActinthe1970s,governmentalsupportwasinplaceforcitizensgroupstostartworkingtosavethebay.In1983thefirstChesapeakeBayAgreementwassigned,formingtheChesapeakeBayProgram.ThisisapartnershipamongMaryland,Pennsylvania,Virginia,theDistrictofColumbia,theU.S.EnvironmentalProtectionAgency,andtheChesapeakeBayCommission.

    Theagreementhasthegoalofrestoringandmaintainingthebaythrough

    Restoringandprotectingitslivingresources,recognizingthattheentirenaturalsystemmustbehealthyandproductive

    Reducingandcontrollingwaterpollution

    Planningforandmanagingtheenvironmentaleffectsofpopulationgrowthanddevelopment

    Promotingunderstandingthrougheducationandparticipation

    Promotingpublicaccessandappreciation

    Thisjointeffortshowshowmanygroupsofpeoplehaveworkedtogethertohelpmakeourhabitathealthyandaccessibleforrecreationalandcommercialuse.YoucanlearnmoreabouttheChesapeakeBaystoryathttp://www.chesapeakebay.net.

  • 66 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Water Pollution.

    Major PollutantsScientistshavespecifiedeightgeneralcategoriesofwaterpollutants:sediment,plantnutrients,infectiousagents,organicchemicals,sewageandorganicwastes,saltsandmineralsubstances,radioactivesubstances,andthermal(orheat)pollution.

    Eachkindofwaterpollutantisrelatedtotheusepeoplemakeofwaterresources,andinmanycases,theusetheymakeofsoilresources,too.Thelinksbetweenwaterandsoilandthewebofnaturemaketheproblemsofwaterpollutionanditscontrolverycomplicated.Understandingtheproblemsofwateruseandsomeoftheprocessesofwatertreatmentisimportant,forunlesspeopleunderstandthevitalneedforwater-pollutioncontrol,theywillnotbewillingtopayforit.

    SedimentAswehaveseen,soilwashedfromitssourceanddepositedwhereitisnotwantediscalledsediment.ItisestimatedthatabouthalfofthesoilthaterodeseachyearintheUnitedStates

    reachesourrivers,streams,andlakes.About1billiontonsofsoilisdeliveredtotheoceansbyrivers.TheMississippi

    Riveralonedumpsmorethan500milliontonsofsedimentintotheGulfofMexicoduringanaverage

    year;reservoirstrapanother1.3billiontons.Muchofthesedimentinsurfacewaters

    comesfromerosiononpoorlymanagedrurallands,butagooddealcomesfromunprotectedareasinornearcities,suchasurbanconstruc-tionsites.Yieldsfromundisturbedurbanlandsaremuchlower,mostofwhichcomefromstream-channelerosion.

    Controloferosionrequiresgoodsoilandwaterconservationpracticesfromthefirst

    tinytrickleofwaterattheheadofastreamtotheriversendattheocean.Youcanhelpsolve

    theproblemofsedimentpollutionofwaterbyapplyingconservationpracticessothatyourown

    yard,schoolgrounds,Scoutcamp,andotherplacesdonoterodeandaddtothesiltloadofstreams.

    Sediment is a principal pollutant of surface waters.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 67

    .Water Pollution

    Plant nutrientsThemainplantnutrientsthatcausepollutionproblems(becauserelativelylargeamountsofthenutrientsgetintosurfacewaters)arenitrogen,phosphorus,andpotassium.Atpresent,probablythemostdamagingtowaterresourcesisphosphorus,whichcomesfromcitysewage,detergentsinwastewater,runofffromlandwheremuchphosphorusfertilizerhasbeenapplied,andnaturalsources.

    Whateverthesource,phosphorusoftencausesagreatincreaseinthegrowthrateandthequantityofalgaeinponds,lakes,andrivers.Likeallplants,algaemusthavecertainnutri-ents.Inmostwaters,themainfactorthatlimitstheirgrowthisalackofphosphorus,sowhenadditionalamountsofitbecomeavailable,thebloomsgrowrapidly.

    Thesolutiontoplant-nutrientpollutionofwateriseffectivetreatmentofsewagewhichcontainsmuchphosphorusfromdetergentsandtheproperuseofsoilconservationpracticestoreducerunoffanddeliveryofsedimenttostreamsfromfertilizedfields,livestockfeedingoperations,andyardsandrecreationareas.

    the masses of algae that sometimes grow in a body of water are known as algal blooms.

    Thegrowthoftheseplantsinenormousquantitiescrowdsoutotheraquaticlife.Asdecomposingorganismsgotoworkondeadalgae,somuchoxygenisusedfromthewaterthatlittleelsecanlive,andthepond,reservoir,orriverbecomesamassofrottingalgae.

  • 68 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Water Pollution.

    infectious AgentsMicroorganismsandbacteriaknownaspathogensaretheleadingpollut-antsofwaterbecausetheycausedisease.Beforescientistslearnedhowdiseaseswerecarriedfromplacetoplace,manypeopleandanimalsgotsickasaresultofswimminginordrinkingwaterpollutedbydisease-causingorganisms.Amongtheseriousdiseasespeoplemightgetfromdrinkingpollutedwaterarecholera,typhoid,dysentery,hepatitis,leptospirosis,andamebiasis.Severalofthesealsoaffectanimals.

    Humanandanimalwastes,includingthosefrombirdsandotherwildcreatures,arethesourceofpathogensthatenterthewater.Runoffcancarrypathogensasitflowsoverthelandtoastream.Somedisease-causingorganismscanremainaliveinthesoilforalongtimeandcanmovethroughthesoiltoundergroundsuppliesforshallowwells.Periodictestsshouldbemadeofallwaterforhumanusetomakesureitisfreeofpathogens.

    Theeffluent,orwastematerial,fromsewage-treatmentplantsmaybetreatedwithchlorinetokillpathogens.Mostcitiestreattheirwatersupplieswithchlorinebeforepipingittohomesandbusinesses.

    The water in your

    city swimming

    pool is treated

    with chlorine

    to kill disease-

    causing

    organisms.

    Another way

    pathogens in

    water can be

    killed is by heat.

    Generally, boil

    water 20 minutes

    to kill all

    pathogens

    effectively.

    Becausesomechemicalpollutantssuchascertainpesticidesarestoredinanimalfat,theycanundergowhatiscalledbiological magnification.Thismeansthatthelowestlinkinafoodchain,suchasaninsect,mightcontainonlyaminuteamountofthepesticide,buteachsuccessivelinkwillcontainhigherconcentrationsasfish,birds,animals,orpeopleeatthethingsthatcontainthesechemicals.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 69

    .Water Pollution

    organic ChemicalsManymaterialsthatpollutewaterareorganicchemicals,suchaspesticidesandherbicides,insecticides,fungicides,andpetro-leumderivatives.Theseandotherchemicalsenterthewaterbybeingwashedofftheland.Theyusuallymovewithsoilparti-clescarriedbyrunoffanotherimportantreasonforcontrollingerosionandrunoff.

    Wemustdoeverythingpossibletokeeporganicchemicalpollutantsoutofstreams,rivers,andlakes.Weshouldusetheproperchemicalsforaspecificpurposeverycarefullyanddevisewaysofpreventingaccidentsthroughwhichthechemicalsgetintowater.Thesepollutantshaveledtomanyexperimentswithwastewatertreatmenttofindmeansofremoval.Someindustrialplantsaresettingupnewwaste-disposalandwaste-treatmentfacilitiestoremoveallchemicalpollutantsfromwastewater.

    Sewage and organic WastesSewageandorganicwastesarehighlysignificantpollutantsbecauseoftheirlargevolumeintheenvironmentandthecloseconnectionbetweenthemandothercategoriesofpollutants.Inadditiontothewastesthatarecarriedbywaterfromhomes,greatquantitiesoforganicwastesresultfromfood-processingandsomeindustrialoperations.Suchwastescontainpathogensandlargeamountsofplantnutrients.Untreatedorinadequatelytreatedsewageandorganicwastesoftencauseabodyofwatertosmellbad,andtheycanupsetthenaturalbiologicalbalanceofariverorlake.

    Accidents or

    careless

    discharges of

    some materials

    have resulted in

    oil or deadly

    poisons (such as

    mercury) getting

    into water and

    greatly damaging

    fish and wildlife

    along seashores,

    on inland lakes,

    and in streams

    and rivers.

    A turbulent

    stream will pick

    up more oxygen

    from the air than

    a smooth-flowing,

    quiet one.

    drainage from a nearby sewage treatment plant affects the water quality of this small river.

  • 70 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Water Pollution.

    Inariverorlake,aquaticplants,fish,insects,andbillionsofdifferentkindsofmicroorganismsworkinharmonytomaintainacycleoflifethathelpskeepthewaterclean.Thegreenplantsaddtotheoxygeninthewaterandacertainamountofoxygenispickedupbythewaterfromtheair.Oxygenisvitaltomostlifeinwater.Fishneedittolive,andgreatamountsofitarerequiredinthedecompositionofthenaturalwastesoftheriversuchassewage,deadplants,fish,andotherorganicmatter.

    Becausedecomposition organisms(thatalsorequireoxygentobreakdownorganicmatter)multiplyrapidlywhentherearelargeamountsofmaterialforthemtoliveon,astreamcan

    quicklybecomeoverloadedwithwastesandshortonoxygen.Dependingontemperatureandotherfactors,fishand

    otherformsofaquaticlifewillhaveenoughoxygenwhenthewatercontains10to12partspermillion

    ofdissolvedoxygen.Whenthedissolvedoxygencontentdropsbelow3to5partspermillionforalongperiod,fishsuffocateandthewholeassociationofplantsandanimalsintheriverorlakeusuallychanges.

    Ascitiesbecamemorepopulatedandmorepeopleusedwaterforindustries,thevolumeofwastedumpedintoriversandlakesincreasedfarmorethanwhatcouldbeprocessednaturally.Thepollutantsupset

    thenaturalbiologicalbalancetosuchadegreethatsomestreamsbecamelittlemorethan

    opensewers.Thefishcouldnolongersurvive,andpeopledownstreamhaddifficultytreatingthe

    waterforuse.Today,somecommunitiescontinuetodumpuntreatedsewageintostreamsandlakes,anda

    numberofcoastalcitiespumprawsewageoutintotheocean.

    Wecalltheamountofoxygenrequiredtodecomposetheorganicmatterpresentinwaterbiochemical oxygen demand,orBOD.SewageandorganicmatteraddedtowaterreduceitsqualitylargelythroughtheirhighBOD.Abodyofwatercanhandleasmallamountofthesepollutants;nat-uralprocessesbreakthemdownovertimeandthewaterremainsclean.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 71

    .Water Pollution

    Salts and Mineral SubstancesSaltsandmineralsubstancesaretroublesomepollutantsinmanyplacesintheUnitedStates.Aswatermovesthroughthesoilandovertheland,especiallyindrypartsofthecountry,itpicksupnaturalsaltsandminerals.SaltisamajorirrigationproblemintheSouthwest.Improvedmanagementofwaterusedforirrigationcanhelpeasethisproblem.

    Drainagefromacid-minewasteisanotherexampleofthistypeofpollutant,andithasseverelydamagedsomestreamsandrivers.Coalandothermineralsarefrequentlyminedbyusinghugemachinestostripawaylayersofsoilandrocksothatthemineralscanbescoopedupandhauledaway.Thisiscalledstrip mining.Thewastematerialsfromthistypeofmin-ingcontainchemicalssuchassulfur,which,whencombinedwithwaterfromrainorsnow,formstrongacids.Ifenoughofthisacidwatergetsintoacreekorriver,noaquaticplantsoranimalscansurvive.

    TheSurfaceMiningControlandReclamationActof1977regulatesstripminingandprovidesforthecontroloferosionanddrainagefromacid-minewastes.Ittakesalittlemoretimeandmoneytouseimprovedmethodsofstripmining,butwiththesemethodstheminedlandcanbemadeusefulforotherpurposes,andpollutionofstreamsbymineralsandacidcanbecontrolled.

    Drainage from

    some irrigated

    lands can contain

    25 tons of salt per

    acre-foot of water.

  • 72 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Water Pollution.

    radioactive SubstancesRadioactivesubstancesareamongthenewestofwaterpollutants.Eventhoughtheradiationfromthesesubstancesdecreases(decays)withtime,thesepollutantsarestilldangeroustohumansandotherformsoflife.However,sincewecantspeeduptherateofdecay,holdingorputtingradioactivewastesinasafeplaceuntiltheyarenolongerdangerousistheonlywaste-treatmentmethod.Asthenumberofindustrialplantsproducingpowerfromnuclearenergyincreasesandastheneedforradioactivematerialsgrows,disposalofthesetoxic,radioactivewasteswillbecomeanevengreaterproblem.

    Liquidnuclearwastesrangefromlowtohighlevelsofradioactivity.Treatmentofradioactivewastescaninvolveevaporatingthewaterfromthemandfixingthesolidwastesinclay,ceramics,orcement,whichthencanbeburieddeepintheearthorpossiblytheocean.

    thermal PollutionThermalpollution,orraisingthewatertemperaturesothatitislessuseful,isagrowingproblem.Manyaquaticplantsandanimalscannotsurviveforlonginlakesandstreamswherethewatertemperatureismuchhigherthannormal.Whenlargeamountsofwaterareusedforcoolingpurposesinindustrialprocesses,airconditioning,electricpowerproduction,andotherways,thestreamstemperaturecanberaisedtothepointwhereevenplantscannotlive.

    Raising the water

    temperature only

    a few degrees

    can make a big

    difference in the

    types of plants

    and animals that

    can grow in a

    stream, river,

    or lake.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 73

    .Water Pollution

    Tohelpreducethermalpollutioninsurfacewaters,someindustriesareusingmethodssuchascoolingtowers.Manynewindustrialplantsnowhavesystemsforrecirculatingwater,enablingthemtousethewaterseveraltimesfordifferentpur-poses.Byinstallingfacilitiesforcleaningupandreusingwater,onechemicalplantcutitsdailywaterrequirementsfrom130millionto4milliongallonsandreduceditscostsforwater.

    Sewage treatmentBecausewewanttocontinuetousewatertomovesewageandorganicwastesandstillhaverelativelycleanstreams,rivers,andlakes,wemustdosomethingtoourhugequantitiesofsewageandwastessotheywillnotpolluteourwatersources.Thisisthepurposeofsewage-treatmentplants.Citiesandtownsusuallybuildandoperatetheirowncentralsewage-treatmentplants.Inadditiontoreceivingthesewagefromhomes,hospitals,garages,hotels,andotherbusinesses,theplantsoftenalsoservesomeindustries.However,numerousindustrialplantsmaintaintheirownfacilitiesfortreatingsewagebeforelettingthewatertheyveusedgetbackintotheenvironment.

    Many people today are concerned about the thermal pollution caused by nuclear power plants. these plants use water to cool the reactors, thereby heating the water. the easily recognizable 400- to 500-foot cooling towers at some nuclear plants help remove heat from the water so that it can be discharged back into the river or reused at the plant.

  • 74 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Water Pollution.

    Citiesandtownsgenerallyarenotbuildingorexpand-ingsewagetreatmentplantsfastenoughtokeepupwiththeirgrowingpopulations.Manycitiesandtownsusesewagetreat-mentplantsthatweredesignedandbuiltyearsago,andthesearebecomingoverloaded.Inmanyplaces,stormdrainsbuilttohandletherunofffromcitystreetsflowintothesewersystem.Afterheavyrains,thesewagetreatmentplantcannothandlethegreatamountofrunoff.Someofthisrunoffflowsdirectlyintoriversorlakes,carryingrawsewagealongwithit.

    Aftersewageiscollectedinpublicsewersandbroughttoacentralpoint,itmightreceiveprimary treatmentorprimaryandsecondary treatment.Inafewinstances,itmightalsoreceivetertiary treatment.Eachtypeoftreatmentcallsfordifferentmethods.Thetypeoftreatmentuseddependslargelyonthestrengthandquantityofthesewageinrelationtothenatureandvolumeofthewater(river,stream,lake,reservoir)intowhichthetreatedwaste-waterisdischarged.

    A basic method of treating municipal sewage

    OriginaldiagramfromWasteNot,WantNot,publishedbyWallaceandTiernanInc.,25MainSt.,Belleville,NJ07109.

    tertiary treatMent

    Chlorine ContaCt tank

    efflUent DiSCharge

    SlUDge Drying beD

    SlUDge DigeSter

    SeConDary Settling

    tank

    triCkling filter

    (aeration)

    pUMp

    priMary Settling

    tank

    raw Sewage froM SewerS

    bar SCreen

    grit ChaMber

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 75

    .Water Pollution

    Primary treatmentPrimarytreatmentofsewagemainlyinvolvesremovingthesolidsfromwastewater.Itistheonlykindmanytownsuse,buttherearedifferentmethodsofaccomplishingit.Thefirststepinprimarytreatmentusuallyissometypeofscreentotrapsticks,rags,andotherlargeobjects.Thesewagemightpassthroughagrinderthatchopstheselargeobjectsintosmallerpieces.Then,thesewagemovesslowlythroughagrit chamberwherestones,sand,andotherheavyinorganicmaterialssinktothebottomandareremovedfromthechamber.Next,thewastewatergoestoasettling tankwhereorganicmatterandfineparticlesofothermaterialsettleandarecollected,andscumandgreasefloattothesurfacetobeskimmedoff.Certainchemicalscanbeaddedtothesettlingtanktocausethefineparticlestoclingtogetherandsettlefaster.

    Thecollectedsolidssludgefromthebottomofthesettlingtankgotoasludge chamberordigesterwheredecom-posingbacteriagotoworkonthem.Thedigestedsludgethenmovesontoadryingbed,afterwhichitcanbeburned,buried,orusedasfertilizer.

    Inprimarytreatment,thewaterleftfromthesettlingtankisdischargedintoariverorstreamorallowedtosoakintotheland.Sometimes,asthisfluid,calledeffluent,flowsoutofthesettlingtank,itistreatedwithchlorinetokillharmfulbacteria.

    efflUent DiSCharge

    Primary treatment

  • 76 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Water Pollution.

    Secondary treatmentOften,theeffluentresultingfromprimarytreatmentrequiressecondarytreatment.Thewastewaterrepeatsallthestepsofprimarytreatmentandthenoneoftwoprocessesforfurtherorganicwastedecomposition.Bothprocessesdependonbiologicalactionandbothrequireoxygen.Theoxygenissuppliedthroughaeration,thatis,bysprayingtheeffluentintotheairorbypumpingairintoit.

    Inoneprocess,theeffluentgoesfromtheprimarysettlingtanktoatrickling filter.There,itpassesslowlyoverstonesorothermaterialwherebiologicalgrowthsdecomposethewasteleftintheeffluent.Thestonesandothermaterialinthetricklingfilterprovideasmuchsurfaceareaaspossiblewithoxygensothatthebiologicalgrowthscanliveanddotheirwork.Intheotherbasicsecondaryprocess,effluentfromtheprimarysettlingtankgoesintoasludgetankwhereactivated sludgematerialthathasvariousbiologicalgrowthsinitcompletestheprocessofdecomposingorganicmaterials.Whiletheeffluentremainsinthesludgetank,itiscontinuouslyaerated.

    Theeffluentfromeitherthetricklingfilterortheactivatedsludgetankthengoestoasecondarysettlingtanktoallowmorewastematerialstosettleout.Thesematerialsgowiththesludgefromtheprimarysettlingtanktothesludgechamberordigester.Asitflowsfromthesecondarysettlingtank,theefflu-entistreatedwithchlorinebeforebeingreleasedintoastream,river,orlakeorbeingallowedtosoakintotheground.

    Secondary treatment

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 77

    .Water Pollution

    Verylittlewastewaternowreceivestertiarytreatment,andthereisnotypicaltertiarytreatmentplant.Theprocessuseddependsonthespecificneedforfurthertreatmentoftheeffluentafterithasreceivedsecondarytreatment.Tertiarytreatmentconsistsofsloworrapidfilteringoftheeffluentthroughsandtoremovedis-solvedsolids.Thistreatmentcouldbeaerationtofoamoutdetergents.Itcouldbetheuseofchemical precipi-tationtosettlethesolids.Oritcouldbesuperchlorina-tionfollowedbydechlorinationtokillharmfulbacteriaandpathogens.

    tertiary treatmentEvensecondarytreatmentdoesntgetwastewatercleanenoughinsomesituations.Tertiarytreatmentisusedafterthewaste-watergoesthroughprimaryandsecondarytreatments.Tertiarytreatmentgetsthewastewatercleanenoughtoberunthroughacityswater-treatmentprocessforhouseholduse.

    Properlytreatedwastewaterisnolongerwaterwasted.Itisgoodwaterandcanbeusedagain.Sewagetreatmentissimilartonaturesendlesschemicalandphysicalwater-purifyingprocesses.Butnaturesmethodstakealongtimeandsimplycannotprocessthehugeamountsofwastepeoplegenerateeachday.Primary,secondary,andtertiarywaste-watertreatmentdoesthesamethingnaturedoes,onlyfasterandundercontrolledconditions.

    ThousandsofyearsagowhentheancientRomansbuiltstorm-watersewers,mostlytohelpimprovedrainageintheircities,theystilldumpedhouseholdwasteonthestreet.Itwasntuntilthe1800swhenpeoplerealizedthatdisposingofhouseholdwasteinstormsewersandgutters,whereitwasremovedrapidly,couldimprovecommunityhealthespeciallyifthosesewerswereunderground.Sanitarysewagesystemswereexpensivetobuild,butby1910,therewereabout25,000milesofundergroundsewerlinesintheUnitedStates.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 79

    .Conservation and Agriculture

    ConservationandAgricultureSoilandwaterconservationpracticeshelpagriculturistsmaximizetheirproductionwhilepayingresponsibleattentiontothewebofnature.Thiscallsforattentiontoenergy-consumptionneeds.

    Liquidfuelisusedfortilling,harvesting,andotherfarmingoperations,includingtheproductionandfeedingoflivestock.Cropdryingusesliquefiedpetroleumgas(LPG),naturalgas,andfueloil.Petroleumenergyalsoisusedforirrigation,frostprotection,andgreenhouseculture.Furthermore,themanu-factureofagriculturalsuppliessuchasfertilizers,herbicides,insecticides,andotherchemicalsusesgreatamountsofenergy.Othersegmentsoftheagribusinessindustry,includingtrans-portation,processing,manufacturing,andpackaging,consumevastamountsofenergy.

    The no-tillage

    system is very

    effective. Under

    this system, seeds

    are planted

    directly through

    the residue from

    the previous crop.

    Conservation tillage leaves residue from the past years crop on the soil surface for protection from erosion.

  • 80 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    Conservation and Agriculture.

    Onepotentialforreducingfuelrequirementsinagricultureistheuseofconservation tillage,alsocalledminimumtillage.Tillage,suchasplowing,preparesthesoilforgrowingcrops.Conservationtillagelimitstheuseoftheplowbecausefarmersleavetheresidueofpreviouscrops,suchasstalksandleaves,onthegroundratherthanplowingitunder.Besidesreducingthenumberoftripsacrossthefieldwithlargemachinery,therebycuttingfuelcosts,conservationtillagealsoprovidesexcellentprotectionofthesoilbecausethecropresiduehelpscontrolerosionofandconservemoistureinthesoil.

    Anotherpotentialforenergysavingsandwaterconser-vationinagriculture(andyourowngarden)liesinimprovedirrigation.Thiscanbedonethroughdrip irrigation,orwater-ingplantsslowlyanddirectlyattheirbases.Thesystemusesaseriesofmainandlaterallinesthatrunparalleltorowsofcrops.Theselinespipewaterfromacentralsourcetodripatarateof1to4gallonsperhourdirectlytotherootsofindividualplants.Itisnotforeverycroporeveryfarmer,butdripirrigationcanprovidegreatsavingsinenergyandwater.

    Otherconservationpracticesthatcouldreduceagriculturesconsumptionofenergyincludeincreasingtheuseofanimalwasteasfertilizers,buildingandplantingparallelterraces,andplantingwindbreaks.Acarefullyplannedandresearchedpas-ture management programusuallyhelpsreduceenergycostsandkeepspasturelandshealthyandproductive.Toeffectivelymanagetheirlands,farmersandranchershadtoallowgrazingattherighttimeofyear;avoidovergrazingorundergrazingpas-tures;beattentivetoandcorrectsoilaciditywhennecessary;fertilizeresponsibly;controlundesirableplants;manageanimalwaste;androtatecrops.

    Thedevelopmentofalternativesourcesofenergywillcontinuetoincrease.Cornandothercropsarebeinggrowntoproduceethanol,whichcanbeusedasfuel.Biodieselisanotherrenewablefuelthatisproducedfromcropsandotheragriculturalmaterials.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 81

    .Conservation and Agriculture

    Agricultureresearchhasexpandeditsalternativeenergysources.Workisunderwayontheuseofbiomass(biologicalmass),ororganicmaterialsproducedbyplantsandanimalssuchaswoodchips,peanutshells,grassclippings,andmanuretoproduceenergy.Biomassenergyhasactuallybeenaroundforalongtime.Eventoday,insomeless-developedcountries,wood,cropresidues,anddungremainmajorsourcesofenergy.Biomassisrenewable,andtheresiduesofbiomassbenefitthelandwhenreturnedtoit.Thereareprosandconstotheuseofbiomass,butmanybelievethatitcouldmakeamajorcontributiontoenergysavingsinthefuture.

    Agricultureresearchersalsopayattentiontosolarandwindenergy.Powerderivedfromthesunoffersprospectsofsignificantlyreducingtheamountoffossilfuelneededbyagri-cultureformanytasks,includingprocessingfood,dryinggrainsandcrops,heatinglivestockshelters,andheatingandcoolinggreenhouses.Otherapplicationsforbothsolarandwindenergyincludeoperatingirrigationpumps,supplyingenergyforruralhomes,andprovidingpowerforpumpingwater.

    Solar power provides a cleaner energy source.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 83

    .How You Can Help

    HowYouCanHelpAsyoutakeaconservationlookatyourneighborhood,town,orcommunity,youwillseemanyopportunitiesforconservationprojectsandpracticesthatwillprotectandimprovesoilandwaterresourcesandatthesametimeaddtotheattractivenessofareas.

    Ifyouneedhelpingettingstartedonaproject,donthesitatetoaskexpertssoilconservationists,foresters,fishandgamemanagers,soilconservationdistrictsupervisors,teachers,parkcommissioners,countyagriculturalagents,cityandregionalplanners,highwaysupervisors,oranyoneelsewhoworkswithnaturalresources.

    Theconservationtaskyouchoosedoesntneedtobeabigone.SelectaprojectthatwillgiveyouachancetoapplysomeofthebasicconservationideasyouhavelearnedinworkingforyourSoilandWaterConservationmeritbadge.

  • 84 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    How You Can Help.

    Plan FirstPlanbeforetheworkactuallybegins;itwillhelpyouorganizeyourthinking.Includethefollowinginyourplanning:

    Adescriptionandmapoftheprojectarea

    Adefinitionanddescriptionoftheproblemthatneedsattention

    Anoutlineofstepstobetakentoaccomplishthetask

    Alistofthenecessarytoolsandmaterialsneeded

    Notesonanyfollow-upormaintenancerequirements

    Berealisticaboutwhatyoucanandcannotdo.Itisbettertochooseasmallprojectthatyoucancompletesuccessfullythantogetinvolvedinalargeonethatoverwhelmsyou.

    Askyourselfthesequestions:

    Whatfactorsofslope,climate,andsoilsneedtobedealtwith?

    Whatwillbetheappropriategrasses,shrubs,trees,orvinestoplantforthepurposesyouhaveinmind?

    Willtheprojectharmonizewiththesoilandwaterneedsofthesurroundingarea?

    Whenisthebesttimetodothework?

    Whatcarewillbeneededtokeeptheprojectinusefulconditionafteritsdone?

    Youalsowillwanttobesureyourplanincludesnormalsafetyprecau-tionsforusingtools,handlingplantmaterials,andconductingyourselfonhazardousterrainornearpondsandstreams.

    Beforeyoucarryoutyourplan,shareitwithyourmeritbadgecoun-

    seloranddiscussittogetherformoreideas.Thisisagoodwaytogetthekinks

    outofyourplanandgainconfidence,too.Yourcounseloralsocanhelpyougetthetools

    andmaterialsyouwillneed.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 85

    .How You Can Help

    ideas for ProjectsNowforsomespecificprojectideas.Inmostcases,youwillneedtoadaptthesesuggestionstoyoursituation.Analyzeconservationtasksyoucandoaroundyourhome,atyourScoutcamp,orwithinyourneighborhoodorcommunity,andmakepracticalplansforcarryingthemout.

    Plant native Grasses and other Ground CoverAim:Keepsoilcoveredandholditinplacetocontrolwaterandwinderosion,reducefloodingandsiltation,andbeautifyanarea.

    Youwillfindmanyplaceswhereyoucanpracticeconser-vationbyestablishingacoverofgrass,vines,orotherplant-ings.Checkoutschoolyards,wildlifeareas,parks,roadsiderestareas,yourplaceofworship,campingareas,andthegroundsaroundhospitalsorotherpublicbuildings.

    Mostgrassescanbeplantedusingthesamebasicproce-dure:First,learnsomethingaboutthesoilsonthesite,andfindoutwhichgrasses,combinationsofgrasses,orotherplantswillgrowbestthere.Insomelocations,youmayneedtoaddlimetothesoilaswellasusefertilizersororganicmaterial.

  • 86 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    How You Can Help.

    Spadeorworkthesoilintoagoodseedbed,addinglimeandfertilizerifneeded.Smoothandrolltoafirmbaseandthendistributetheseeds.Rakethesurfacelightly,barelycoveringtheseeds.Sprinklecarefullywithwatertoavoiddisturbingsoilparticlesandwashingawayseeds.Insomecases,youmightneedtowatertheareaperiodically.

    Especiallyusefulonsteepslopesareviningplantsthatformexcellentgroundcovertohelpprotectthesoil.Manyofthesewillgrowinshadyareaswheregrassdoesnotgrowwell.Determinethekindofsoilyouhavetoworkwithandthekindsofviningplantsbestsuitedtothelocation.Plantthemfromthetopoftheslopedownward.Thisway,youwillhelpcheckerosionatthetopoftheslopefirstandwillavoidtramplingonplantsasyouaddtotheplantingsfartherdowntheslope.Preparethesoilasforanyplantingbyspadingorlooseningittothedepthofafewinches.Workinlimeorfertilizerifneeded.Mostviningplantsarestartedfromsmallplantsratherthanfromseed.

    Protect a Stream BankAim:Repairandprotectembankmentssubjecttofloodingand

    erosiontoreducesedimentationandimproveconditionsforfishandstream-sidewildlife.

    Chooseanareathatneedsattentionalongasmallbrookorcreek.Leavetheprotec-

    tionofriversbankstoengineersandotherprofessionals.Ifthebankissteepand

    undercut,usehandtoolstoreslopeittoauniform,gentlergrade.Findoutwhatplants,grasses,andseedswouldbesuitableforbankstabilization.Useseveraldifferentkinds.

    Sometimesastreambankneedsmoreprotectionthanplanting;ifthecurrentisswiftorthebankiseroding

    toofastforplantstogetstarted,placealayerofstonesorbrokenrockatthe

    footofthebankextendingafewfeetabovetheexpectedwaterline.

    Youcanalsousethebasicprinciplesofprotectingastreambankalongtheshoresof

    pondsandlakes.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 87

    .How You Can Help

    Plant native trees and ShrubsAim:Helpholdthesoilinplace,provideshade,producetimber,provideshelterandfoodforwildlife,andbeautifyanarea.

    Youneedtoconsidermanyfactorsbeforeplantingtreesorshrubs,includingthekindofsoil,howlongthetreeorshrubwilllikelylive,thesizeandshapeofthetreewhenfullygrown,thekindtouseforaspecificpurpose,andthecareitcanandwillbegivenasitgrows.

    Whenyougetthetreeandshrubseedlingsyouwillplant,besuretokeeptheirrootscompletelyinwater,orinmoistorganicmaterialsuchaspeatmoss,untilyouactuallyplantthemintheground.Digplantingholesspacedaccordingtolocallawsandrecommendationsforthekindoftreesorshrubsyouareplanting;usuallytheseholesshouldbeabout2feetapartinrowsabout2feetapart.Itisimportantthattheholesyoudigarelargeenoughtoholdalltherootswithoutcrowdingthem.Besurethesoilatthebottomoftheholeisnotpackedsoharditwillinterferewithrootgrowth.Ifthesoilisdry,youmightneedtoputalittlewaterinthehole.Pressthesoilcarefullyandextrafirmlyabouttherootsasyoufillthehole,becauseairpocketsintherootzonecouldkilltheseedling.

    Preventweeds,grass,andotherplantsfromgrowinguparoundsmallseedlings.Ofcourse,youmayhavetowatertheseedlingsregularlyifthereislittlerain.Shouldtheseedlingsneedprotection,pilealayerofbrushovertheplantedarea.Drivestakesandusewiretotiedownthemattingofbrush.

    Forlarge-scaletree-plantingprojects,youwillneedthehelpanddirectionofexpertswhoknowaboutthebesttreestousefordifferentpurposesandthekindsofsoilsinwhichthetreescanbeexpectedtogrow.

  • 88 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    How You Can Help.

    Control trail erosionAim:Protectfootpathsincampareas,hikingandnaturetrails,andprimitiveroadsfromdamagecausedbyerosionandfromearthslidescausedbyheavyrainsandmeltingsnow.

    Inlayingoutnewtrailsordirtroads,avoidtroublebylocatingthemasnearlyaspossibleonthecontour.Otherpre-cautionsinthelayoutandconstructionstagesincludemakinglanesnowiderthanabsolutelynecessaryandtakingcarenottoremovethenaturalcoverofvegetationnearthesideofthetrail.

    Wheretrailsgodownhillandrunoffcouldflowrapidlyandcutintothetrailsurface,youcanuseaconservationdeviceknownasawaterbar.Thisismadebycuttingashallowchan-nelacrossthetrailatanangletotheslope.Asmalllogorstonescanthenbeplacedinthechannel.Whenwaterflowsdownthetrail,thisbarservesasasmalldamtodivertwateroffthetrailandontoanareaofgrasswhereitcansoakintothesoilandprovidemoistureforplants.

    Toensureagainsterosionandmakethetraillessmuddyinwetweatherandlessdustyindryweather,putalayeroforganicmaterialsuchaswoodchips,sawdust,pineneedles,orleavesonthetrailsurface.

    Besuretogettheadviceofaconservationspecialistbeforetryingtocontrolerosion.Ifyoudontdesignandcarryouterosioncontrolpracticesproperly,youcouldendupcreatingmoreproblems.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 89

    .How You Can Help

    Mulch Your SoilAim:Holdsurfacesoilinplaceuntilnewlyseededplantsbecomeestablished,andshelterother-wisebaresoilfromwater-erosiondamage.

    Mulchescheckerosionbyprotectingthesurfacesoilfromtheactionofwaterandwind.Theyhelpkeepthesoilsurfacefromdryingoutandprotecttheplantsrootzonefromextremecoldorheat.Aheavylayerofmulcharoundgrowingplantsretardsthegrowthofweeds.Whenusingmulches,nitrogenusuallymustbeaddedwiththemoverandabovetheusualamountrecommendedforthesoil.

    Useaforkorspadetoapplyamulchwhereversoilsoryoungplantsneedprotec-tion.Tokeeplightmaterialssuchasleavesorstrawfromblowingaway,pushtheedgeofashovelorspadethroughthemulchintothesurfaceatcloseintervalstoanchorthematerialsinthesoil.

    Build a Grass WaterwayAim:Disposeofexcessrunoffsafely,preventsoillossandotherwaterdamage,andhelpkeepsedimentoutofwater.

    Grasswaterwaysareneededontheslopingsoilsofgardens,lawns,camps,playingfields,croplands,pastures,wildlifeareas,andmanyotherplaces.

    Notewherewaterrunstowardalowerareaafterastormandfindaplacewhereitcanbedisposedofsafely.Thiscouldbeastreetgutter,astream,apatchofwoods,orasmallpond.Startingfromthelowerendofthewaterway,movesoiltocreateawide,shallowchannelwhereyouwantthewatertoflow.Prepareagoodseedbedintheshapedchannelandthenseedrecommendedkindsofgrass.

    Forquickcoverduringarainyseason,youmightwanttoseedsomeannualgrassesorsomequick-growingoats,rye,orbarley.Keepthewaterwaymowedandfreeofweedsandbrush;youalsomighthavetotreatitoccasionallywithlimeandfertilizertokeeptheturfdenseandtough.Thelimingandfertilizationratesshouldbeapartofthepropertysoverallsoilandwaterconservationplan.

  • 90 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    How You Can Help.

    educate othersAim:Helpotherpeopleinyourtownorcommunitytounder-standtheimportanceofconservationandtheneedfortheintelligentuseandmanagementofnaturalresources.

    YoucangivetalksanddemonstrationsonconservationpracticestoyourfellowScoutsandothergroups.Describeaplantingprojectorstream-bankerosioncontrolproject,ortalkabouthowtomakeacompostpile.Youcoulddemonstrate,withlittleequipment,howwaterrunsoffbaresoil,soilwithagrasscover,andsoilwithamulchonit.

    Organizeyourtalkaroundacentraltheme.Defineacon-servationproblemandthengivespecificexamplesofconserva-tionpracticesthathavebeenorshouldbeusedtodealwithit.Tellbrieflyandclearlyhowwedependonsoil,water,plants,andanimalsforoursurvival,andexplainhowyouarehelpingintheimportantworkofconservationandhowyourlistenerscanhelp,too.

    Youcanmakeexhibitsforsciencefairsorfordisplayinthewindowsofbanksandstores,atcountyfairs,atairports,inyourschoolauditorium,atflowershows,atyourScouthead-quarters,oratthelocallibrary.Exhibitstellastoryaboutlocalconservationproblemsandhowtheyarebeingsolved.

    do a Conservation inventoryAim:Uncoverandexploreconservationneedsinaselectedareawithinyourcommunityanddirecttheattentionofpeopletothemsoconservationpracticescanbeapplied.

    Chooseanareaperhapsanumberofblocksinyourneighborhood,yourScoutcamp,ortheentiretownandlookatitsconservationneeds.Herearesomequestionstoaskyour-selfasyoumakeyourconservationinventoryandpinpointonamaptheconservationproblemsyoudiscover:

    Arethebanksofriversorsmallerstreamseroding?

    Canyouseeevidenceofflooding?Whendidthelastfloodoccur?

    Whatflood-controlmeasuresordevicesdoesyourcommunityhave?

    Wheredoesyourcommunityortowngetitswater?

    Howdoesyourcommunitytreatitssewage?

    Arethereditchesalongthesidewalkswheregrassoncegrew?

  • .How You Can Help

    Whatistheconditionofslopesalonghighways?

    Doyouseeanylitterbasketsorbarrelsinyourcommunity?Aretheybeingused?

    Doesyourcommunityhaveanyshadetrees?Aretheyhealthy?Whotakescareofthem?

    Howmanydifferentkindsofbirdsandotherwildlifeliveinyourneighborhood?Whydotheylivethere?

    Whatishappeningtovacantlots?

    Arethereanyjunkyardsinyourcommunity?

    Doesyourschoolhaveaconservationproject?

    Help Curb invasive SpeciesTreescoveredandweighteddownwithvines.Wallsofnearlysolidgreenvegetationalongroadways.Largeareasofdefoliatedtreesandotherplants.Ifyouhaveseenanyoftheseconditions,youhavewitnessedtheworkofaninvasivespeciesplantsandanimalsnotnativetoanarea.Theirpresencecanharmtheenvi-ronmentandthespeciesthatalreadylivethere.

    Whennonnative,exoticplantsandanimalsareintroducedintoanecosystem,theyoftenhavenonaturalpredatorsorcon-trolstokeepthemincheckwiththeestablishedhabitat.Suchanenvironmentallowsthemtoaggressivelyspreadoutandcompetewithnativespeciesforfood,water,shelter,andspace,andtoexposethesenativespeciestonewdiseasesandotherhazards.Thisiswhyinvasivespeciesareamajorthreattonatureandalsotorecreationalareassuchaslakesandparksthatweallenjoy.

    Youmightwonderhowyoucanhelpcurbtheeffectsofinvasivespecies.Fromseedsstuckonthesolesofshoestosnailsandalgaeclingingtoboats,rememberthatpeopleandhumanactivityarethemajortransportersofinvasivespecies.Followthesecommonsensetipswhenyouareenjoyingtheoutdoors.

    Afterahike,shakeoutyoursocksandremoveanyweedsandseedsfromyourshoesbeforeheadinghome.

    Whenyouarethroughboating,inspectyourequipmentandboatbeforeleavingthesite.Youdontwanttotransportanyplants,water,mud,leftoverbait,orfishandotherliv-ingthingstoanotherarea.

    Over eons of time,

    populations of plant

    and animal species

    develop complex

    relationships in

    balance with

    nature. This

    delicate balance

    can easily be

    destroyed when an

    invasive species

    enters the picture.

  • 92 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    How You Can Help.

    Ifyouhavecaughtanyfish,releaseitbackonlytotheareawhereitwascaught.Nevertransportyourcatchandreleaseitsomewhereelse.Inaddition,neverreleaseanythingfromyourhomeaquariumtoalake,pond,orotherbodyofwater.

    Ifyouareridingabike,motorcycle,horse,oranyothertransportationacrosslongdistances,besureyoudontpickupanyhitchhikersalongtheway,suchasseeds,plantparts,andbugs.

    Hereareonlyafewexamplesofinvasivespecies.Youmightrecognizethem.

    Thepurple loosestrifewasfirstimportedasagardenorna-mentalfromEurasia.Ithasnowtakenovervastareasoffresh-waterwetlandhabitatsinNorthAmerica.Insomeareas,therehasbeenlimitedsuccesswithusingbiologicalcontrolsbeetlesandweevilsimportedfromthisplantsnativehome-landtocombatthispest.Becauseoneplantcanproduceupto2.7millionseedsperyear,ithasbeenanuphillbattletocombatthepurpleloosestrife.

    Phragmitesareawild,cane-likeplantthatdominatesthousandsofacresofcoastalandinteriorwetlands.Itspreadsreadily,formingvastanddensereedbedsthatchokeoutnativeplantspecies.Thestalksandplumesofphragmitescangrowtoaround14feethigh,makingitevenmoredifficulttocontrolandeliminate.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 93

    .How You Can Help

    Theinvasiveisland apple snailcamefromtheaquariumandaquaculturetradesviaSouthAmerica.Thisagriculturalpestgrowstoaboutthesizeofabaseball,devoursanytypeofaquaticplant,hasfewnaturalenemies,andmultipliesquickly.Infact,onefemaleislandapplesnailcanlayupto1,000eggsevery10to14days.

    Theeerielookingsnakehead fishescapedfromtheaquar-iumpettradeandfishmarketsintolocalwaterways,whereithasspreadrapidly,eatingupnativefishandtheireggs.Duringdroughts,snakeheadscanactuallywriggleoverlandontheirfinsandbodytoreachotherwaterways.Outsidetheirnativehabitat,theyhavenoknownenemies.

    Caterpillarsofthedevastatinggypsy mothhavebeenresponsiblefordefoliatingmillionsoftreesacrossNorthAmericasinceitsintroductionhereinthelate1860s.Since1980,thesehungrypestshavedestroyedtremendousareasofwildlifehabitat,recreationalareas,suburbs,andforests.Whilemanydifferentmethodshavebeenusedtohelpcontrolthespreadofthegypsymoth,nonehassuccessfullyeradicatedit.

  • 94 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    resources.

    Scouting literature Fieldbook; Animal Science, Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Backpacking, Environmental Science, Farm Mechanics, Fish and Wildlife Management, Forestry, Gardening, Nature, Oceanography, Orienteering,andPlant Sciencemeritbadgepamphlets

    Books About Conservation

    Bramwell,Martyn.The Environment and Conservation.PrenticeHall,1992.

    Crawford,Leslie,CathyAnderson(ed.).Water Conservation(EnvironmentalAction).DaleSeymourPublications,1997.

    DeGalan,Julie,andBryonMiddlekauff.Great Jobs for Environmental Studies Majors.McGraw-Hill,2002.

    deVilliers,Marq.Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource.MarinerBooks,2001.

    Doyle,Kevin,etal.The Complete Guide to Environmental Careers in the 21st Century.IslandPress,1998.

    Fradkin,PhilipL.A River No More: The Colorado River and the West.UniversityofCaliforniaPress,1996.

    Leinwand,Gerald.The Environment(AmericanIssues).FactsonFile,1990.

    Lucas,Eileen.Naturalists, Conservationists, and Environmentalists(AmericanProfiles).FactsonFile,1994.

    .Water: A Resource in Crisis.ChildrensPress,1991.

    Morgan,RoystonP.Soil Erosion and Conservation,2nded.Addison-Wesley,1996.

    Rothfeder,Jeffrey.Every Drop for Sale: Our Desperate Battle Over Water in a World About to Run Out. Tarcher,2001.

    organizations and Web SitesChesapeake Bay ProgramToll-freetelephone:800-968-7229Website:http://www.chesapeakebay.net

    TheChesapeakeBayProgramfocusesonrestoringtheBayslivingaquaticresources

    envirolink networkWebsite:http://www.envirolink.org

    TheEnviroLinkNetworkprovidesaccesstothousandsofonlineenvironmentalresources.

    Resources

    VisittheBoyScoutsofAmericasofficialretailWebsiteathttp://www.scoutstuff.orgforacompletelistingofallmeritbadgepamphletsandotherhelpfulScoutingmateri-alsandsupplies.

  • Soil And WAter ConServAtion 95

    .resources

    environmental Protection Agency Attention:OfficeofWater

    ResourceCenter1200PennsylvaniaAve.,NWMailCodeRC-4100Washington,DC20460Telephone:202-566-1729Website:http://www.epa.gov

    TheEPAWebsiteprovidesinformationabouttheenvironmentandconservationandprotectionofwaterresources.IntheStudentCentersection,youcanlearnaboutthewatershedwhereyoulive.

    natural resources Conservation Service Telephone:202-720-3210Websites:http://www.nrcs.usda.govandhttp://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app

    TheNRCSoftheU.S.DepartmentofAgriculturehasaninformation-packedWebsite.

    Soil and Water Conservation SocietyTelephone:515-289-2331Website:http://www.swcs.org

    BrowsetheSocietysWebsiteandfindamultitutdeofresourcessuchasSoilResourcesontheWeb.

    AcknowledgmentsTheBoyScoutsofAmericathanksGaryM.Stolz,Ph.D.,U.S.FishandWildlifeService,andtheUSDANaturalResourcesConservationServicefortheirtechnicalexpertiseandguidanceduringtherevisionofthismeritbadgepamphlet.

    WeappreciatetheQuicklistConsultingCommitteeoftheAssociationforLibraryServicetoChildren,adivisionoftheAmericanLibraryAssociation,foritsassistancewithupdatingtheresourcessectionofthismeritbadgepamphlet.

    TheBoyScoutsofAmericathanksthefollowingfortheirhelpwithprevi-ouseditionsofthispamphlet,uponwhichthiseditionisbased:JerryBernard,KenCarter,BruceDubee,DougHoly,TarletonA.Jenkins,WalterE.Jeske,TedKupelian,KatherineN.Mergen,PaulReich,andRobertF.TegneroftheNaturalResourcesConservationService,U.S.DepartmentofAgriculture,withthecounselandtechnicalassist-anceofotherpersonneloftheNaturalResourcesConservationService.WealsoappreciateEdPartington,EnvironmentalProtectionAgency,forhisassistance.

    Photo and illustration Credits

    2000OregonStateUniversity/C.Daly,G.Taylor,andJ.Aiken,courtesypage29

    FloridaDepartmentofEnvironmentalProtection/DanaDenson,courtesypage93 (top left)

    HAAPMediaLtd.,courtesycover(ducks, bottom left)

    HAAPMediaLtd./AndrewBeierle,courtesycover(no dumping sign)

    Jupiterimages.compages810 (all), 11(both top, bottom left),12,14,22,26,34,36(left, center), 44,55,59,6162(both),64,66,68,7073 (all), 78,81,and91

    FerencLakatos,UniversityofWest-Hungary,Bugwood.org,courtesypage93 (bottom left)

    LonghornCouncil,BoyScoutsofAmerica,courtesypage53

    NASAJetPropulsionLaboratory,courtesypage52

  • 96 Soil And WAter ConServAtion

    resources.

    NaturalResourcesConservationService,courtesypages2021(both), 25,35,40,and50(bottom)

    NaturalResourcesConservationService/LynnBetts,courtesycover(top right); pages37(left), 39(all),43,47,48(left), 54(bottom), 5657(both), 67,and79

    NaturalResourcesConservationService/KurtBlume,courtesypage51(top)

    NaturalResourcesConservationService/ErwinC.Cole,courtesycover(top left)

    NaturalResourcesConservationService/JimFortner,courtesypage17(top)

    NaturalResourcesConservationService/FredGasper,courtesypage37(right)

    NaturalResourcesConservationService/GaryKramer,courtesypages46and48(right)

    NaturalResourcesConservationService/TimMcCabe,courtesypages11(bottom right),36(right), 38, 49(bottom), 50(top),and51(bottom)

    NaturalResourcesConservationService/BobNichols,courtesypage19

    NaturalResourcesConservationService/RonNichols,courtesypage33

    NaturalResourcesConservationService/CharlieRahm,courtesypage63

    NaturalResourcesConservationService/JeffVanuga,courtesypage37(center)

    NaturalResourcesConservationService/GaryWilson,courtesypage49(top)

    Photos.comcover(bottom right)

    TexasNaturalResourcesInformationSystem,courtesypage30

    USDAAPHISPPQArchive,Bugwood.org,courtesypage93(bottom right)

    U.S.FishandWildlifeService/BillBuchanan,courtesypage92(both)

    U.S.GeologicalSurvey,courtesypage93(top right)

    Wikipedia.org,courtesypages60,65,69,7576(both), and87

    AllotherphotosandillustrationsnotmentionedabovearethepropertyoforareprotectedbytheBoyScoutsofAmerica.

    TomCopelandpages82and86

    DanielGilespage85

    JohnMcDearmonallillustrationsonpages1618,27,58,and74

    Thomas W. Levermann (19432002)TheBoyScoutsofAmericadedicatesthe2004editionoftheSoil and Water ConservationmeritbadgepamphlettothememoryoflifelongScouter,TomLevermann,whocontributedtotheworkoftheBSAsNationalConservationCommitteefornearly25years.Heservedmorethan30yearsasheadoftheeducationdepartmentoftheNaturalResourcesConservationService(formerlytheSoilConservationService),enthusiasticallyeducatingthepublicaboutsoilandwaterconservation.Thispledge,createdbyTomLevermannfortheU.S.DepartmentofAgriculture,accuratelyreflectshisdedicationtowardtheconservationofwaterandsoil.

    Conservation PledgeI give my pledge as an American to

    Save and faithfully to defend from waste theNatural resources of my country

    Its air, soil, and minerals,Its forests, waters, and wildlife.

  • Merit badge libraryThough intended as an aid to Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and qualified Venturers in meeting merit badge requirements, these pamphlets are of general interest and are made available by many schools and public libraries. The latest revision date of each pamphlet might not correspond with the copyright date shown below, because this list is corrected only once a year, in January. Any number of merit badge pamphlets may be revised throughout the year; others are simply reprinted until a revision becomes necessary.

    If a Scout has already started working on a merit badge when a new edition for that pamphlet is introduced, he may continue to use the same merit badge pamphlet to earn the badge and fulfill the requirements therein. In other words, the Scout need not start all over again with the new pamphlet and possibly revised requirements.

    American Business 2002American Cultures 2005American Heritage 2005American Labor 2006Animal Science 2006Archaeology 2006Archery 2004Architecture 2008Art 2006Astronomy 2004Athletics 2006Automotive Maintenance 2008Aviation 2006Backpacking 2007Basketry 2003Bird Study 2005Bugling (see Music)Camping 2005Canoeing 2004Chemistry 2004Cinematography 2008Citizenship in the

    Community 2005Citizenship in the Nation 2005Citizenship in the World 2005Climbing 2006Coin Collecting 2008Collections 2008Communication 2009Composite Materials 2006Computers 2009Cooking 2007Crime Prevention 2005Cycling 2003Dentistry 2006Disabilities Awareness 2005Dog Care 2003Drafting 2008Electricity 2004Electronics 2004Emergency Preparedness 2008Energy 2005

    Photography 2005Pioneering 2006Plant Science 2005Plumbing 2004Pottery 2008Public Health 2005Public Speaking 2002Pulp and Paper 2006Radio 2008Railroading 2003Reading 2003Reptile and

    Amphibian Study 2005Rifle Shooting 2001Rowing 2006Safety 2006Salesmanship 2003Scholarship 2004Scuba Diving 2009Sculpture 2007Shotgun Shooting 2005Skating 2005Small-Boat Sailing 2004Snow Sports 2007Soil and Water

    Conservation 2004Space Exploration 2004Sports 2006Stamp Collecting 2007Surveying 2004Swimming 2008Textile 2003Theater 2005Traffic Safety 2006Truck Transportation 2005Veterinary Medicine 2005Water Sports 2007Weather 2006Whitewater 2005Wilderness Survival 2007Wood Carving 2006Woodwork 2003

    Engineering 2008Entrepreneurship 2006Environmental Science 2006Family Life 2005Farm Mechanics 2008Fingerprinting 2003Fire Safety 2004First Aid 2007Fish and Wildlife

    Management 2004Fishing 2009Fly-Fishing 2009Forestry 2005Gardening 2002Genealogy 2005Geology 2005Golf 2002Graphic Arts 2006Hiking 2007Home Repairs 2009Horsemanship 2003Indian Lore 2008Insect Study 2008Journalism 2006Landscape Architecture 2008Law 2003Leatherwork 2002Lifesaving 2008Mammal Study 2003Medicine 2009Metalwork 2007Model Design and Building 2003Motorboating 2008Music and Bugling 2003Nature 2003Nuclear Science 2004Oceanography 2009Orienteering 2003Painting 2008Personal Fitness 2006Personal Management 2003Pets 2003

    BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA SUPPLY GROUP

    NatiONal diStribUtiON CeNter direCt Mail CeNter 2109 Westinghouse Boulevard P.O. Box 909 P.O. Box 7143 Pineville, NC 28134-0909 Charlotte, NC 28241-7143 For fast credit card orders VISA, MasterCard, American Express www.scoutstuff.org call BSA operators toll-free 1-800-323-0732

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