Ask Ray McCormick about wildlife, hunting, conservation of any type, and expect a long conversation. He's supplemented his farming operation over the years with income from helping from artificial wetlands in mitigation cases, and in leasing land for hunting. But his love for conservation and the care of wildlife, plus the protection of various wildlife habitats, goes far beyond any monetary gain. It's the way he thinks things are meant to be.
McCormick farms near Vincennes, raising crops on a variety of soil types. His land includes lots of floodplain areas. He floods some land on purpose to increase the presence of waterfowl in the winter. He also grows food plots for wildlife to encourage various species of game to inhabit the area.
This past summer he's battled the flood waters off a fork of the White River that flows down along some land he farms. He lost 400 acres of corn ready to tassel to floodwaters in June. What's disturbing, he says, is that the water came from Indianapolis and the region above Indianapolis, hit with hard rains at that time. His actual area only received average to moderate rains during the same period.
Too much pavement and lack of maintenance of streams and channels have added to flooding problems. He says flooding is much more frequent and severe today than in past years when his relatives farmed some of the same land.
McCormick has mitigated wetlands on his own property. That means he was paid to turn land into an artificial wetland. The party who provided the funds had disturbed a natural wetlands elsewhere. Agencies required them to make restitution by creating a new wetlands somewhere else. Often, it's not just an acre for acre replacement. Quite frequently, plans call for more than one acre of new wetland to be created for every acre of natural wetland that's destroyed or converted to some other use.
McCormick also uses the same equipment he used on his land to help create artificial wetlands in mitigation situations elsewhere. It's become an important part of his cash-flow that is a staple in his farming operation..
Congratulations to Ray McCormick and family, a 2010 Master Farmer award winner.