April 2019 Newsletter
Partners for Conservation at Western Governors’ Association Working Lands Roundtable

PFC attended a recent Working Lands Roundtable convened by the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) examining topics such as at-risk species conservation, broad-scale threats to western working landscapes, and cross-boundary coordination in resource management and planning. The session also included a workshop on collaborative conservation as well as an address from NRCS Chief Matt Lohr.


Banner photo: Coteau Ranch, Prairie Potholes, USDA

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN: Private Lands Partners Day Ogden, Utah—September 24-26, 2019

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the 12th annual Private Lands Partners Day to be held September 24-26 in Ogden, Utah. This year’s event, themed Private Lands Partners Day in a Public Lands State, will highlight conservation partnerships that touch both public and private land in Utah and elsewhere in the Great Basin, as well as other public-private partnerships from around the country.  

Registration for the event is now open! Register for PLPD 2019 here. Registration price includes reception on Tuesday night, field trip on Wednesday with Lunch and Dinner provided, and all day conference on Thursday with closing banquet dinner.
Grass Managers

Schmidt family: “We are grazers. We are grass managers. We are used solar salesmen. We use sunlight and rain and grass, that’s what makes our living.”

And in case you want it summed up in a 30-second commercial, here it is!
Partner/Private Lands News
Ranching & Agriculture

Commentary by former USDA undersecretary Robert Bonnie: Conservation policy needs more carrots and fewer sticks if we are going to create a long-lasting and effective model of protecting the natural environment. Launched in 2010, the Department of Agriculture’s Sage Grouse Initiative is an example of a collaborative approach, with agencies, universities, nonprofits, businesses and more than 1,500 ranchers partnering to protect an area twice the size of Yellowstone through conservation easements.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now offering Virginia farmers and forestry producers more options for taking their land management to the next level with the revised Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Submit your application by May 10, 2019 to be considered for FY19 CSP funding.

A new online map identifies 6.3 million acres in Virginia — nearly a fourth of the state’s land and water — as high-priority conservation areas, and 5 million of those are forested or agriculture lands. ConserveVirginia has multiple functions and is designed to be used by government officials, land trusts and residents.

A Kewaunee Co. family incorporates new ideas following devastating fire. Partnering with NRCS, they planted conservation cover and critical area plantings, installed vegetated treatment areas and pumping plants, restored grassed waterways, completed mulching, waste transfer, heavy use area protection, and tried cover crops for the first time to name a few.

The bipartisan Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act, S. 170 and H.R. 1992, which would eliminate the ability to profit from the donation of a conservation easement on land held for a short period of time.

Research is now expanding to determine how manure can be used on soils that have been degraded to bring their soil health back in balance. Soil is considered to be degraded when it has lost its ability to support the living organisms that would naturally be found in it.

Having succeeded in protecting funding for the Conservation Title in the 2018 Farm Bill, more than 140 leading farm, conservation and wildlife groups are once again joining together to protect those hard-fought conservation funds and programs in the fiscal year 2020 appropriations process.

The Soil Health Demonstration Trial (SHDT) coming out of the 2018 Farm Bill is nurturing the groundswell around soil health and associated building of soil organic carbon (SOC). USDA will pay farmers incentives to adopt and experiment with crop and soil management practices that build up SOC while also establishing participants’ soil carbon baseline and record their success in raising those levels. 

Research proves organic farming profitable. Organics and sustainable agricultural practices have proven to grow higher yields with lower costs in chemical inputs so farmers are making more profit with the same land use.

Water
“Everything we think about when it comes to our arid lands turns on the reality of a scarcity of water. But if we repurpose the industrial by-product water, we can introduce hundreds of millions of gallons a year onto the land.” The 'Just Add Water' Initiative launches.

In 2018, the Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) of NY launched its Forest Conservation Easement Program. The NYC Watershed is 78 percent forested and 75 percent privately owned, and provides over 1.2 billion gallons of drinking water to over 9.5 million people daily. The program preserves large tracts of private forestland for both water quality protection and the benefit of local industries e.g. forestry and mining.

The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservation District is working with agricultural producers to lessen nonpoint pollutants, such as fertilizer, in water returned to the river. All of the programs tie into Colorado’s Water Plan, and benefit the ecosystem.“They [tourists] come here to see our ecosystem. It has value.”

Wildlife, Recreation & Education
Lake County grasslands around Chicago treated to 'periodic fire' that looks alarming but benefits native plant systems.

Wyoming partners adopt a statewide Prescribed Fire Council. The council has identified a number of ways they can support the use of prescribed fire.

Thanks to conservation partnerships, an Arkansas snail and two Southeastern fish no longer warrant Endangered Species Act protection.

$100,000 awarded for deer habitat improvements by dozens of groups for projects in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Thanks to three decades of dedicated work by a range of partners, 290 California condors now fly free in the wild, and the 10-foot-wingspan birds will be reintroduced in the Pacific Northwest for first time in over 100 years.

Forests
The spring issue of The Longleaf Leader features Burner Bob on the cover! 

The newly introduced Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act would help cleanup public lands and waters impacted by trespass marijuana growers by creating a local, state, federal and tribal partnership to coordinate activities and provide resources and expertise.

Cal Fire awards over $63 million in grants to projects aimed at promoting healthy forests.

MDC and rural fire departments are partners in fighting wildfires. Today, Smokey Bear has a new slogan: “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.” That’s because conservationists and farm managers now use prescribed burns to encourage wildlife habitat or to improve cattle forage. 

A grand duel is taking place out West between the sagebrush, native to the landscape for more 12,000 years, and a newer, highly invasive and flammable species called cheatgrass. Science shows cheatgrass doubles the risk of wildfire, and in the past 20 years, wildfires in shrublands and grasslands, which make up one-third of the U.S., have burned more acres than forested lands.
A NOTE FROM THE CHAIR

Greetings! 

Have a lot of folks in our thoughts this month with all the recent flooding and blizzards in the northern and western states and severe weather in the south—particularly those folks in Nebraska and nearby states that were hit with historic and catastrophic flooding several weeks ago only to get hit again by a “bomb cyclone” within the last week. It is amazing how many places went from not enough moisture to way too much over the last few months.  

I hope that things return to normal for everyone as we get closer to summer. Thinking even further ahead, the planning team for Private Lands Partners Day is hard at work to ensure that our 12th annual meeting, this year in Ogden, Utah, is a success. Registration for the meeting is now open and we hope you are able to join us as we learn more about private lands partnerships in a pubic lands state.
 
Yours in Conservation,
Jim Stone
Ovando, Montana
"I'm a Conservationist"

Meet a 7th generation rancher from New Mexico with PFC who says, “I’m a conservationist, and I love being known for the work I’ve done here on the land, and I’m very dedicated to it. That’s the hook we hang our hat on.”
Oklahoma Conservation deeply rooted and getting stronger according to U.S. Census of Agriculture

The recently released 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture detailed in part that less and less of Oklahoma’s soil is whisked away by its powerful winds. Hundreds of field days, demonstration farms, and educational events have created even more change in no till and cover crop adoption rates than state officials expected.

Compared to 2012, there was a 24% increase in the number of farms using cover crops, a 51% increase in acres using cover crops, and a 29% decrease in intensive tillage practices in Oklahoma. On a national scale, the report shows that Oklahoma is seventh in the nation for the largest decrease in cropland acreage using conventional tillage practices. In short, Oklahoma farmers and ranchers ‘get it.’  


#FridaysOnTheFarm 

In Perkins, Oklahoma, meet Margarita Munoz who shares her story of a lifetime of dedication to farming and her journey through the ups and downs of managing a profitable cattle business.

Each Friday, meet those farmers, producers, and landowners through our #FridaysOnTheFarm stories. Visit local farms, ranches, forests, and resource areas where USDA customers and partners do right and feed everyone. 
Nature's Good Neighbors

The buzz on the West Fork:
Meet a West Virginia landowner who’s a keeper of both rivers and bees.
by Hannah Lieberman

Nature’s Good Neighbors: 
The US Fish and Wildlife Service launched Nature’s Good Neighbors in 2018, a series of stories showcasing conservationists across the nation, most of whom are private landowners with some on the PFC board!
Private Lands Conservation Events & Funding Announcements
POSITION: Blackfoot Challenge Executive Director

The Blackfoot Challenge, based in Ovando, Montana seeks an experienced, collaborative, and personable Executive Director (ED) to lead the fund development and strategic visioning of the organization while providing financial and administrative oversight and exceptional staff supervision. As a board-led organization, the Blackfoot Challenge requires an ED who is willing and able to participate in and help guide a collaborative process to find solutions, drawing from the experience and perspectives of fellow Staff and Board members.

The ED plays the primary role in fund development for the organization and the successful candidate will have extensive fundraising experience and current relationships with a variety of funders, both private and public. This person will be a leader and member of our Executive Team, a collaborative model of organizational leadership we are still in the process of developing (the new ED will play a central role in developing this concept). Together, members of the Executive Team will manage the various administrative, financial and programmatic duties required at the organization.


FUNDING

Announcing the Landscape Conservation Catalyst Fund
Read the Catalyst Fund announcement. Preproposals must be submitted by April 26th.

EVENT

Western Landowners Alliance is pleased to announce their first 2019 Stewardship in Action tour, scheduled for May 30th at the Carrizo Valley Ranch in New Mexico. Please mark the date on your calendars and stay tuned.
ABOUT PARTNERS FOR CONSERVATION

Partners for Conservation (PFC) is a private landowner-led organization which communicates and collaborates on conservation partnerships for working landscapes to benefit present and future generations. 
Consider Joining Partners for Conservation
Consider becoming a member of Partners for Conservation. Partners for Conservation works to support collaboration and public-private partnerships as the first choice for conserving our national working landscapes for people and nature. More information on membership can be found on our website. 
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