Newsletter Highlights:
  • Meet Your Local Conservationist, An Interview with Dawn Salcito
  • District Spotlight, NACD 2020 Technical Assistance Grant Awardees
  • Conservation Corner, Increasing Irrigation Efficiency
  • Educate Yourself, San Pedro Education Center
Conserve. Grow. Live.
August 2020 Newsletter
Meet Your Local Conservationist
An Interview with Dawn Salcito
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family.

I was born and raised a rancher in Arizona and worked many ranches with my parents across the state. After getting married, my husband and I moved to Skull Valley where his family's ranch is, and we have been ranching on the Z3 Ranch for over 29 years.  

What is the history of your ranch?

Thirty-two years ago, my husband's family purchased their ranch in Skull Valley.
What breed of cattle do you raise?

We have a calf/cow crossbred operation. Crossbreeding cattle increases the productivity of a calf higher from their parents, for example, a higher success in breeding as well as greater calf survival and weaning rates.
Why did you get involved with NRCDs?

I got involved with NRCDs because they provide an outlet for and support to beef producers in the area while finding ways to care for the natural resources for future generations. 

How long have you been involved with NRCDs?

I joined the Triangle NRCD board in 2015; I also took a job with the Western Yavapai Conservation Education Center sponsored by Chino Winds and Triangle NRCD. Then I became a NRCS Program Specialist for the Districts, helping producers with conservation practices. 
What changes have you seen in the Triangle NRCD since you joined?

There's been an increase in programs and support for producers. I've also seen more focused NRCD board participation in conservation issues at the state level.

What kind of conservation work have you done on your operation?

Prescribed grazing, fencing improvements, and trick tank catchments (shown below) that collects rainwater and delivers it to a troughs for livestock and wildlife. 
What, in terms of conservation work, is next for your operation?

Restore grassland by eradicating juniper and oak brush (i.e., implementing brush management practices).

What is your favorite thing about being involved with NRCDs?

NRCDs mean locally-led conservation, which is what it's all about! 
Thank you, Dawn Salcito!
District Spotlight
NACD 2020 Technical Assistance Grant Awardees
The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) recently announced three grantee awards for their national Technical Assistance (TA) grant program in Arizona! 

What is this TA grant? The NACD and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have partnered to provide funding to NRCDs across the country in order to support greatly needed technical assistance, such as to hire staff where additional capacity is needed to improve customer service and reduce workload pressure. Through this partnership agreement, NACD can grant funds to Districts in need of technical, program, and cultural clearances support. It is important to note, also, that all participating NRCDs contribute at least 25% match towards the TA grant agreement.

While the NACD grouped the winners together, we want to recognize the individual Districts that are a part of this exciting grants program. The West Pinal, Eloy, and Florence-Coolidge NRCDs went in together for the TA grant up near Phoenix, while the Hereford and Whitewater Draw NRCDs joined forces down in the southern part of the state. These NRCD teams sought this funding in order to hire a contractor to assist their local NRCS district conservationists (DCs) with the backlog of conducting and/or completing required cultural resource surveys (clearances that are required to implement conservation practices), rangeland inventories and data collection, designing practices, GIS mapping, and contracting work, thus freeing up NRCS DCs to complete other important conservation tasks. 

The West Pinal, Eloy, and Florence-Coolidge NRCDs are predominately made up of farming lands that need soil and water technical support. Recently, this area was awarded $10 million in RCPP EQIP funds from the NRCS. The Casa Grande DC will need support with the significant influx of technical requests that are/will be coming in from this grant. 

The Whitewater Draw and Hereford NRCDs are made up of both farms and ranches, as well as many landowners with smaller acreage who seek assistance with conservation projects. The overwhelming numbers of technical assistance requests from these various landowners makes this area one of the highest in the state for support requests. 

Finally, the AACD saw a need to apply to the TA grant as well, on behalf of all Arizona Districts, and was also awarded funding to hire two contractors to support all Districts and their NRCS DCs. With the amount of work that needs to be done across the state and the lack of resources, AACD recognized an urgent need to hire two contractors to assist all Districts and NRCS field offices. 
Conservation Corner
Increasing Irrigation Efficiency
All Arizona residents are aware that water is a very precious commodity in the state. The water used for agriculture and other purposes comes from three main sources: the Colorado River (36%), Arizona River (e.g. Salt, Gila, Verde, etc. 21%), and ground water (40%). Agriculture uses about 74% of the water, with municipal uses at 21% and industrial uses 5%. Crop production in Arizona is almost totally dependent on irrigation since precipitation where topography and soils are suitable for farming is not sufficient to raised crops without it. Irrigated farming is an important contributor to Arizona’s economy, but because it also is a major user of water, it is important to implement practices that make irrigation as efficient as possible. Efficiency means to ensure that as much of the water as possible is used by the crops being raised and not lost to evaporation, seepage, weeds, or runoff. Increasing efficiency of irrigation use, as well as improved water conservation measures implemented in municipal and industrial uses, has resulted in an actual decline in the annual use of water in Arizona since 1980 despite a great increase in population.

On irrigated cropland there are a number of practices that can be used to improve the efficiency of water use. All of them have the objective of reducing water loss and maximizing the proportion of water actually used to grow the crops. Which practices, or combination of practices, are applied depends on the type of crop, the characteristics of the soil being cultivated, the quality of the water being applied, and the economic feasibility of implementing these practices
Educate Yourself!
San Pedro Valley Education Center
The San Pedro Valley Education Center (SPVEC) was established and is sponsored by the San Pedro Natural Resource Conservation District (NRCD). The SPVEC is an active source of conservation education to community school-aged children, supporting local schools in teaching students about the natural environment and how conservation plays a major role in protecting and responsibly using the land on which they live. One of SPVEC’s education efforts is funding field trips for local students to tour Kartchner Caverns. Prior to visiting the caverns, students are taken through a week’s long curriculum to prep them for the tour. Through a combination of this in-class curriculum and the subsequent tour, students learn how a cave is formed and the different formations within; about the habitat within the cave, like the different types of bats that nest there; and how monsoons create erosion, thus posing a threat to both the caverns and the desert surrounding the caves. Outside, students are taken on a nature hike where they learn about the different types of animal wildlife and plant habitats that populate the desert landscape surrounding the caverns, while being taught how to identify some of the plant types and even animal tracks. This experience is meant to raise conservation awareness and stimulate interest in children in their natural environment. The SPVEC has seen nothing but success through this program! 
Arizona Association of Conservation Districts
About Us
In 1944, the Arizona Natural Resource Conservation Districts established the Arizona Association of Conservation Districts (AACD) as a means of support to help coordinate and fund conservation efforts across the state, and as a way to unify and represent District goals and interests. Since 1992, AACD has been a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, with a Board of Directors comprised of one representative from each of Arizona’s 42 NRCDs. AACD accomplishes their directive to support Arizona’s NRCDs by establishing partnerships with federal, state, tribal, and local entities, as well as non-governmental organizations. AACD takes a holistic, collaborative approach to the challenges producers and conservationists face today and seeks to bring different groups together to find common ground in conserving our valuable natural and agricultural resources. 

Please visit our website to learn more about AACD and the Districts, discover the important conservation work they do, and support them today!
Arizona Association
of Conservation Districts
7467 E. Broadway Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85710
Have a story you would like to share in our next newsletter?

Contact: Brooke Gladden
(520) 668-3348
"Conserving Agriculture and Natural Resources Since 1944"