The Wenatchee World

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Gathering Our Voice | Keeping the land together in the Okanogan

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Many of the stories we’ve gathered since 2006 about the Okanogan Valley and surrounding highlands illustrate the many ways farmers and ranchers have adapted to change over time. Several people, including Buzz Berney of Conconully, have talked about how early ranchers learned to produce hay to feed their livestock in the winter instead of depending upon open rangelands after the devastating cow-killing winter of 1889-1890.

Davis Canyon farmer Gene Fitzgerald explained how erosion coupled with drought spurred her father, George Davis, to work with the Civilian Conservation Corps to try contour ditching, a practice that was new in the 1930s. Once people saw how well this method worked at his site, they were inspired to take action at other locations.

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