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September Monthly Meeting Recap:

Our 2023 September Monthly Meeting was held on September 1st at the Watershed Center.

Phill Graves, CEO of Wild Idea Buffalo, a regenerative meat and leather company, presented on “Harmonizing Business, Nature, and Community.”

Mr. Graves began by thanking Watershed and their work to protect one of our most precious resources. Mr. Graves is a native of Texas and obtained degrees in Finance from Texas A&M. He worked in the financial field for several years and then underwent a career change, moving to San Francisco to work for Patagonia Provisions and Worn Wear, both corporate ventures focusing on environmental, social good for the company. Patagonia partnered with the Bureo company, which targeted reducing the micro-plastic pollution problem by recycling old fishing nets into recycled skateboards and sunglasses. The number of fishing nets was so large they needed to create another product to use the recycled material, which led to the creation of Patagonia’s fishing net jacket. 

Mr. Graves then spoke about the founding of Wild Idea Buffalo in 1997 by a biologist with a birding passion. They realized how native prairies add to the ecological health of the landscape and impact wildlife. They focused on shifting from cattle to bison that live in harmony with prairies. Instead of a roundup and being taken to a feedlot for butchering, animals are harvested in the field, which is allowed with a USDA inspector on-site. Wild Idea Buffalo is the largest grass-fed, grass-finished, field-harvested operation with 36,000 acres.

They focus on the three pillars of soil health, animal health, and ethical fairness to workers/farmers. Most farms are high-intensity agriculture with one monoculture. It is estimated that intensity agriculture has caused 58 billion tons of topsoil erosion. It is estimated that 40 to 60 years of usable topsoil remains, which means shifting how we farm is important for our future.  Wild Idea Buffalo meat is Regenerative Organic Certified, and meat is currently available in Natural Grocers and will be in Mama Jeans soon.

Missouri Department of Conservation Update 

Ms. Kara Tvedt said it is currently dove season, with deer and turkey season coming soon, with antlerless season beginning October 6. She brought copies of the Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information for anyone who would like a copy. There is a new CWD portion during November 22-26 in counties that are monitored. Fall fish sampling will be occurring at all the lakes. Also, hydrilla monitoring at 21 repeat sites, after five years of no tubers found, is considered to be eradicated. They currently still have 13 sites they are actively treating for hydrilla.  Ms. Tvedt presented on the floating wetland projects at three MDC ponds of various sizes. These floating wetlands increase diversity, reduce nutrient pollution, and increase fish habitat and food. Fish love the shade the floating wetlands provide, and no algicide was needed this year in one of the ponds with a floating wetland.  They are measuring results at each location, and the data is encouraging, showing these floating wetlands positively impact water quality and fish habitat.

Regional Updates:

Mr. Kromrey announced Ms. Diana Sheridan will be starting a new position in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the NRCS National Water Management Center on September 11. Mr. Kromrey presented her with a glass water drop as a token of appreciation for many years of local watershed improvement and partnership work. Marra Holt said fall plant sales are beginning this month and to watch our social media for details. Brent Stock with James River Basin Partnership said their Sunset Soiree is sold out, but they are still looking for volunteers. There will also be numerous opportunities to volunteer to monitor water quality this fall. Carrie Lamb with the City of Springfield stated they have several job openings in their department, and more information can be found on the city website.