County conservation district recognizes award winners

PENNSDALE – The Lycoming County Conservation District presented a pair of awards during its 54th annual Conservation Awards banquet on Tuesday at the Trinity United Methodist Church.

The 2013 Cooperator of the Year award was presented to the Gavitt family for its commitment to improve water quality and promote conservation throughout Lycoming County. Brad and Melana Gavitt, along with their two sons Wyatt and Colton, operate a 60-head cattle operation in Franklin Township.

Unlike most local cattle farmers, the Gavitts do not raise beef or dairy cattle. Instead, they focus on breeding rodeo characteristics into bucking stock. Bucking stock are the cattle that bullriders ride in rodeos.

Bucking stock need not be aggressive animals. The Gavitts focus more on athletic characteristics while culling aggressive animals.

With help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, specifically the Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency, the Gavitts have made a significant investment in conservation of their farm.

In addition to developing and implementing a nutrient management plan for their operation, they have:

Set aside about 50 acres in a rotational grazing system;

Created spring developments and other watering facilities;

Stabilized access roads and areas that are heavily used by animals;

Established CREP buffers to improve water quality; and

Built roof gutter systems to control runoff.

In 2010, the Gavitts agreed to participate in the county’s nutrient credit trading program. In October of that year, they became one of the first Lycoming County farmers to sell nutrient credits through the PennVest credit trading auction. The Gavitts continue to support the county’s credit trading efforts.

The Susquehanna Chapter of Trout Unlimited and its president, David Craig, also were recognized. The chapter is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The chapter was chartered on March 14, 1964, becoming the 44th chapter in the nation and the fifth in Pennsylvania. Its mission is “to conserve, protect and restore North America’s cold water fisheries and their watersheds.”