Saturday, April 12, 2008

Free grazing workshop for islands' ranchers

The Marianas Resource Conservation & Development Council, in cooperation with the three CNMI Soil and Water Conservation Districts, is hosting a free grazing workshop for all interested farmers, ranchers and conservation agencies in the CNMI. Everyone with grazing livestock is encouraged to attend.

The workshop will focus on various aspects of grazing lands management including recommended plants for the best quality livestock forage, pasture planting techniques, weed control options, animal nutrition, soils and other management principles designed to give island cattle and goat ranchers the tools they need to maximize productivity while protecting their animals' health and conserving their natural resources.

Technical expertise for the workshop will be provided by grazing experts from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Presenters for the workshop will include area soil scientist Robert Gavenda from Guam, and state rangeland conservationist from Hawaii, Lori Metz, along with Jeff Repp and Gene Fultz, both grazing land technology specialists from the NRCS West Region Technical Center in Portland, Oregon. Several employees from the local NRCS Field Office on Saipan will also participate and provide local commentary.

A full day of technical advice will be delivered on each island starting with Tinian on Thursday, April 17, then moving to Saipan on Friday, April 18. The workshop on Rota will be held on Monday, April 21.

The workshop will consist of a walking tour and field presentation starting at 8am on an actual working ranch that is currently participating in NRCS conservation programs. In the afternoon, the workshop will continue in a classroom segment until 4:30pm to be held at the Northern Marianas College campus on each island.

Workshop attendees on Tinian will gather at the ranch of Frank Diaz for the morning session. Anyone requiring directions to the location can meet at the DLNR office at 7:30am and follow NRCS staff to the Diaz ranch.

The field portion for the Saipan segment will be held at the ranch of Captain Ernest Torres in the Obyan area. Attendees are asked to gather at the NRCS field office on Beach Road at 7:30am should they need directions to the Torres Ranch. Afternoon classes will be held in Room D-1 of the NMC campus.

Rota attendees will gather at the NMC campus at 7:30am for directions to the field portion which will be held at the ranch of Maria Fujihira, in the Lalayak area. After lunch, the workshop will continue in Room B-2 of the Rota NMC campus. Attendees must arrange their own transportation.

All those interested in attending the free workshop are encouraged to contact the NRCS field office for specific information the day before. Call 236-0888 or 236-0880.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). (USDA)