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Local ranchers work to keep water clean by preventing runoff

Posted at 7:47 PM, Nov 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-14 04:27:46-05

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla.  — They have called St. Lucie County home since 1937. More than 80 years later Adams Ranch, west of Fort Pierce, is doing its part to protect our environment.

Mike Adams greeted us on the 14,000-acre spread one recent morning. He’s part of four generations that have raised beef cattle on the land. He told WPTV anchor Michael Williams, “It is so important for us to be good neighbors.”

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Protecting paradise on this ranch means keeping cow waste and fertilizer runoff— triggers for algal blooms—from pouring into the watershed that feeds the St. Lucie River and local estuaries.

A big part of that effort includes managing water across the ranch. The family constructed a series of canals decades ago to do just that.

Adams pointed them out and said, “This is part of our water control system here. We have a series of canals through the ranch and we have structures where we can raise and lower the water table…..(and that) keeps the ground saturated so we store billions of gallons of water in the soil itself.”

Mike Adams
Mike Adams

That precious water nourishes the vast pastureland and does not run—unchecked and unfiltered—into the watershed. Of course, it helps to limit fertilizer use on the ranch, to begin with. Adams told me, “We do use some fertilizer on our pasture, (but) at the same time we are careful about the time of year we put it on and what kind of rates we put it on.”

The Adams have about 2,100 mother cows on the ranch. They say they are careful not to overtax the land with livestock. The key is understanding the connection between land and water, the uses of both, and the impact of man-made activity.

Adams concluded, “It is important to be good neighbors to our city cousins because we all live here together and we need a healthy environment.”