Neighbors Helping Neighbors Project: Signup Deadline Dec. 15

If you’re concerned about the environmental impacts of a poultry operation in your vicinity – or if you’ve got a poultry operation, and are trying to mitigate those impacts yourself – the Oklahoma Conservation Commission has a new program that may help.

Called “Neighbors Helping Neighbors,” the program works with poultry growers and their neighbors to address concerns related to the expansion of the poultry industry in eastern Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Conservation Commission recently received a Regional Conservation Partnership Program grant to provide education and funding to implement best management practices for the poultry industry.

The program serves 11 counties in eastern Oklahoma, selected because they contain the largest number of poultry operations in the state.

Practices that can be funded by the program include conservation easements, buffer strips and windbreaks, phosphorus removal structures, litter transfer and storage, water and soil health monitoring, and many others. The program is also open to practices not included on the list, in an effort to encourage new, innovative approaches.

The deadline to sign up for the program is December 15. For more information or to sign up, visit the Neighbors Helping Neighbors webpage, or contact Jeri Fleming by email or phone (405-334-6343). The website also has a form for reporting concerns about particular farms.

Insects Declining – But Damaging More Plants than Ever

Scientists have been sounding the alarm about a dramatic drop in insect populations for some time now. Even laypeople have noticed that their windshields don’t catch nearly as many bugs now as just a few years ago.

Strangely enough, even as insect numbers plummet, insect pests seem to be doing more damage than ever to plants. That’s the finding of a new study by researchers at the University of Wyoming.

The study took a long view of insect herbivory, examining fossil leaves from as far back as the Cretaceous Period, 67 million years ago, for signs of damage from hungry bugs. At the other end of the timeline, researchers examined preserved leaves in present-day herbarium collections.

The results? Fossil leaves, from the dinosaur era through the time of mastodons and saber-toothed tigers, showed less insect damage than leaves from modern times.

Within the modern period, the increase in insect damage to plants continued. Leaves collected in the early 2000s, researchers reported, showed higher levels of damage than those from early in the 20th century.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences.

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