by John W. Parris
T. Ed Garrison of Anderson, SC, one of the nation’s premier agricultural and conservation leaders of the twentieth century, died Sunday, June 16, 2013 at 91 years of age.
Garrison, a graduate of Clemson University with a BS degree in Agricultural Education, began his farming career after returning home from World War II where he had piloted a B-25 plane on 165 missions in the South Pacific.
After the death of his father, Garrison purchased the shares of the farm owned by other family members and began a successful dairy business. He operated the farm known as Denver Downs, located on highway 76 between Anderson and Clemson, for more than 40 years. Garrison also served the people of Anderson County in the House of Representatives for ten years followed by twenty years of distinguished service as a State Senator.
Garrison became an Anderson Conservation District official in February 1955. He was the first Anderson Conservation District Board member to attend the National Conservation Districts Recognition Program sponsored by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Litchfield Park, Arizona. Garrison was elected president of the South Carolina Association of Conservation Districts in 1961 and selected ‘Conservation Man of the Year’ in South Carolina in 1968.
Early in Senator Garrison’s career as a scientific farmer, he implemented and maintained a comprehensive conservation plan on his farm developed by technical experts with the USDA Soil Conservation Service (now known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service). The Garrison farm was frequently used to demonstrate the latest land and water management technologies such as conservation tillage and drip irrigation.
As a State Senator, Garrison sponsored legislation to change the name of the State Soil and Water Conservation Commission to the SC Land Resources Commission. He secured additional funding for the agency for staff, conservation district support, the State Soil Survey, Watershed Planning and Urban Flood Control Projects. He authored state legislation to provide for Mined Land Reclamation, Dams and Reservoir Safety, Stormwater Management and Erosion Control, Landscape Architects Registration and Soil Classifiers Registration, all administered by the Land Resources Commission. He also led in the passage of legislation that provided for a state income tax credit for the purchase of conservation tillage and drip irrigation installation equipment as well as the construction of water impoundments.
Senator Garrison served as the Governor’s representative on the Interstate Mining Compact Commission for a number of years. He received many prestigious awards but chief among them was being named to the National Conservation Hall of Fame by the National Association of Conservation Districts in 2007.
I consider Senator Garrison to be the most outstanding conservation legislator in the history of South Carolina. His many accomplishments as a conservation leader are indelibly portrayed across the landscape of the Palmetto state. Senator Garrison will always be remembered and appreciated as ‘A Keeper of the Land’!
(John W. Parris of Columbia, SC, a personal friend of Senator Garrison, served as an Agri-Science Instructor in Anderson in the 1960s. He became associate director of the SC Soil and Water Conservation Commission at the encouragement of Senator Garrison and later as executive director of the SC Land Resources Commission until retirement in 1994. He is currently director of the SC Agri-News Service)