In addition to the traditional political candidates on the ballot Nov. 3, voters will also be able to select supervisors for the Hall County Soil and Water Conservation District, a group that advocates for protection of natural resources and sustainability practices.
The district is one of 40 in the state. The districts are units of state government that educate about conservation at community events and in classrooms, review erosion and sedimentation control plans for developments and help landowners and farmers implement conservation practices on their properties.
Hall County’s district, which was formed in 1983, has five supervisors. Some recent projects include presenting at Ag Day, where local students learn about agriculture, installing five pollinator garden beds at the Hall County Agricultural Services Building and hosting an endangered species workshop at Elachee Nature Center.
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Mike Haynes, the current chairman, has been a supervisor since 1983 and is on the ballot for reelection. The board’s work reviewing erosion control plans and distributing government funds to farmers for property improvements is important for ensuring the long-term environmental health of the area, he said.
“If we don’t do things to protect our soil from eroding, years down the road, it’s not going to be here,” Haynes, a North Hall poultry and cattle farmer, said. “There’s no telling how much soil has been washed into the lakes and rivers over the years.”
There are five members on the board, with three elected and two appointed by a state board. Voters will choose two candidates on their ballots, with the top two candidates being elected to the board, Haynes said.
Larry Nix, one of the current supervisors, is not seeking reelection.
Todd Chapman and Michael Crow are also running for supervisor positions. Both would be new to the Hall County board.
Chapman is a poultry, cattle and row crop farmer in North Hall who worked with the district to implement some conservation measures on his farm. Crow was previously a supervisor for the Oconee River Soil and Water Conservation and wants to get involved in Hall. He moved to Braselton from Barrow County last year.
Chapman said some steps he has taken on his farm, including putting fencing by creeks and installing stack houses for chicken litter, helped him learn more about the district’s work and with the open position, he wants to be directly involved.
“It betters everybody’s waters downstream and here,” Chapman said. “… Monitoring and controlling (erosion and sedimentation) helps manage it and it’s good for everybody.”
And Crow said he enjoyed his conservation district work in Barrow, especially educating the community about conservation efforts.
“I always enjoyed working with the elementary schools and helping them get funding for different projects, as far as learning about agriculture and conservation,” Crow said. “I also like helping the local farmers implement their best management practices.”
Direct involvement in projects “gives us an intimate look at what’s going on in our communities,” Crow said.