For Harlan County, Ky. landowners Jim and Joanne Corum, conservation is a way of life. For the Corums, making the choice to enroll their land in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)—one of the largest private-land conservation programs of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)—was an easy one.
Jim and Joanne Corum have always strived to leave their land better than they found it, and CSP provided a perfect opportunity for them to make good on that sentiment. The program is geared toward landowners, like the Corums, who are already using conservation and want to take their efforts to the next level. The couple enrolled 1,319 acres from their properties in two Kentucky counties in 2012.
With their CSP conservation plan, the Corums committed themselves to implementing conservation activities in their forest stands to improve wildlife habitat and soil quality. They left snags (dead trees) and den trees, and added coarse, woody debris to the forest floor. These practices provide nesting and cover opportunities for bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species, while also providing habitat for the insects and detritus on which they feed.
“When we bought the land, back in the 50s, it was just a briar hill,” says Joanne in reference to their Bell County tract of land, which is now home to scores of wildlife and an abundance of healthy forest, as well as Jim and Joanne.
Before stepping up their conservation game by participating in CSP, the Corums constructed several miles of hiking and fire management trails, two shallow water habitat ponds and two ephemeral wildlife pools. They also improved several hundred acres of timberlands.
They have been recognized for their efforts with many awards, including 2006 Kentucky Outstanding Forest Steward of the Year by NRCS. In addition, Jim served as the Kentucky Woodland Owner’s Association President from 2007-2009.
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