Last week, over 200 district officials, employees and partners met in Gulf Shores, Ala., for the
Alabama Association of Conservation Districts' (AACD) 76th Annual Meeting.
Presided over by AACD President and NACD Southeast Region Vice-Chair
Micky Smith, the meeting was an opportunity for Alabama's 67 districts to gather for networking, sharing and learning.
NACD Second Vice President Kim LaFleur and Southeast Region Representative
Candice Abinanti represented the national association at the meeting. During the AACD annual business meeting, LeFleur presented an overview of NACD, and provided an update on programs and upcoming events.
The general session featured a keynote address from Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner
Rick Pate, an update from the Alabama Association of Resource Conservation & Development Councils and a special Veterans Day recognition. Attendees also participated in a variety of breakout sessions, including sessions on ethics and fiduciary responsibilities, working with public officials, and partnering to bring resources to districts. Additionally, NACD Soil Health Champion
Roy "Shep" Morris of
Macon County Soil and Water Conservation District spoke about his experience using cover crops to build soil health for growing cotton.
Districts also shared their initiatives and achievements during a district area coordinator roundtable. During lunch, state Soil and Water Conservation Committee (SWCC) Executive Director
William “Bill” Puckett and AACD Executive Director
Sabra Sutton entertained and educated attendees with a lively version of Family Feud to test participants’ knowledge of SWCC and AACD (pictured above).
The meeting was held at
The Lodge at Gulf State Park
, a newly re-opened beachfront hotel designed to be a responsible steward of natural resources. The lodge will host AACD's 77th Annual Meeting, as well as NACD's Southeast Region Meeting held
Aug. 9-11, 2020
NACD ATTENDS WACD CONVENTION
Last week, the
Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts
(WACD) held its 74th Annual Convention in Buffalo, Wyo. During the three-day convening, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Chief Matt Lohr
provided the keynote address on Thursday morning, where he emphasized the importance of customer service for the agency, sharing a few personal stories about the long-lasting effects of good and bad customer service. Lohr discussed that he is looking forward to when the agency can start hiring more personnel to help put more technical expertise on the ground. Additionally, he added that NRCS is looking forward to publishing the farm bill rules.
On Friday morning, WACD convention attendees heard from
Governor Mark Gordon
on essential issues impacting Wyoming. Gordon highlighted the critical role agriculture has in the state and discussed some of the work his invasive species task force is currently tackling.
NACD Natural Resource Policy Specialist
represented the national association at the convention, where he provided a keynote address on Wednesday, as well as updated attendees on NACD's programs and services and the 2018 Farm Bill. After the luncheon, convention attendees participated in three different tours to learn about the history of Johnson County, Wyo.
IASCD HOSTS ANNUAL MEETING IN BOISE
Beginning with directors meetings for IASCD and the
Idaho District Employees Association
(IDEA) on Tuesday, attendees participated in the four-day meeting with multiple partner meetings, a conservation tour and a variety of breakout sessions.
Meeting highlights included a lunch visit to
Vine and Branch Ranch
(pictured above), a local farm-to-table operation featuring a winery, cidery, farm and restaurant run in part, by
, District Manager of
Ada Soil and Water Conservation District
. During the lunch, which featured food produced exclusively in Idaho, Erskine highlighted the many partnerships that have contributed to the success of the restaurant, as well as producers associated with the operation. After the meal, attendees toured
, a cattle and chicken operation that relies heavily on rotational grazing and soil health practices.
The following day, attendees learned more about soil health from Erskine and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Soil Scientist
; participated in a short listening session with NACD Pacific Region Representative
; received some important board training from the
Idaho Counties Risk Management Program
(ICRMP); and received updates from the Bureau of Land Management’s
The meeting ended with a board meeting and an awards banquet where IASCD honored several longtime partners for their dedication to natural resource conservation.
INCA CONFERENCE DISCUSSES STRENGTHS, OPPORTUNITIES FOR TRIBAL CDS
The Indian Nations Conservation Alliance (INCA) convened the 2019 National Tribal Conservation Districts Conference on Nov. 5 in Tulsa, Okla. The theme of the meeting for this year was "Strengthening the Circle of Life Through Indigenous Conservation Assisted by USDA Programs." The agenda included keynote presentations by
USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey
, Farm Service Agency
Administrator Richard Fordyce
and Bureau of Indian Affairs
Director Darryl LaCounte
(pictured). Following the presentations, there was a signing ceremony for a National Conservation Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with INCA.
NACD South Central Region Representative
presented during the opening session, describing how NACD is partnering with INCA and tribal conservation districts through efforts such as the
NACD Technical Assistance Grant Program
. These partnerships build capacity for tribal conservation districts and improve service to native farmers and ranchers. Owen also assisted INCA staff with an afternoon concurrent session on forming tribal conservation districts.
The annual INCA National Tribal Conservation District Conference gives tribal conservation districts the opportunity to come together, discuss success stories and share conservation triumphs in Indian Country.
In a welcome message to conference attendees, INCA Executive Director
, "It is indeed a great time for us. It is a great time for our youth. We are moving forward at a faster pace, regaining our way and our voice in the world surrounding us. Without the efforts of our Alliances and those that stand at our side, we would still be facing the uphill climb. While we have a long way to go, the way forward is encouraging, and we as an organization and people should celebrate our accomplishments of the past year."
NACD has a Memorandum of Understanding and working agreements with INCA and has partnered on valuable conservation projects, such as the Tribal Outreach and Partnership Resource Policy Group and the NACD Technical Assistance Grant Program.
ICYMI: CHECK OUT NACD'S 2019 FALL EDITION OF
For example, when the
Winkelman Natural Resource Conservation District
(NRCD) in Kearny, Ariz., saw the petition to list the Sonoran Desert tortoise (pictured above) as an endangered species in 2008, the district recognized this as an imminent threat to its customers and its local economy.
After the district coordinated with other organizations and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), it was later determined that the Sonoran Desert tortoise was a distinct population segment and warranted listing, and that livestock grazing was not a threat to the species' survival. The district helped create the best management practices that protected grazing in the tortoise's habitat, as well as create a Candidate Conservation Agreement for federal lands and a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for private landowners.
After litigation requesting a final decision, the USFWS determined the tortoise did not meet the definition of a threatened or endangered species and removed it from the candidate list. Winkelman NRCD and the
Arizona Association of Conservation Districts
worked with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), USFWS, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Arizona Game and Fish Department for several years on the species’ conservation.
To read the rest of this article, check out the Fall 2019 edition of
RHODE ISLAND DISTRICT HELPS MAINTAIN STATEWIDE HIGH WATER QUALITY STANDARDS
Northern Rhode Island Conservation District
(NRICD) has developed a partnership with the city-owned Providence Water Supply Board and the State of Rhode Island that will utilize $2.9 million from a Forest Service grant to continue improving water quality in the Scituate Reservoir Watershed by providing easements to landowners who are managing their forests.
“Private landowners who are actively engaged in the management of their forests are less likely to engage in activities that negatively impact water quality,” NRICD Agriculture and Forestry Program Manager
Kate Sayles said
. “This is why this partnership is so important.”
In the past, Rhode Island has been identified as having some of the highest water quality in the northeast, likely due to the management of the 93 acres of forestland surrounding the reservoir. Providence Water Supply Board is the largest water supplier in Rhode Island, serving 60 percent of the state’s population. It owns one-third of the watershed and has been actively involved in ensuring the proper management of the land through forest management strategies, land conservation with fee-simple purchases or conservation easements for watershed protection, and through water sampling and studies to monitor water quality.
The remaining two-thirds of the watershed is privately owned and comprised of residential neighborhoods with large sections of privately-owned forests and more than 200 farms. That’s where NRICD comes in.
“Forests are essential elements to maintaining water quality, and the types of land uses surrounding drinking water reservoirs are critical to drinking water for the state,”
. “Some landowners don’t even know where to start.”
EPA Seeking Nominations for FRRCC
On Nov. 11, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
announced that it is currently seeking
20-30 nominees to serve for two- to three-year terms on the Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Committee (FRRCC).
Established in 2008, the FRRCC provides independent policy advice, information and recommendations to EPA's Administrator on a range of environmental issues and policies important to agriculture and rural communities. The committee expects to meet approximately twice a year.
The nomination deadline is
Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019.
For more details about qualifications and how to apply, please visit
Book Inspires Collaboration With Montana District
The award winning book
is a scientific memoir and one of the featured titles in the
Big Read Event
, a national effort to promote literacy by featuring a diverse range of subjects.
Helena Public Library
in Montana joined the program and created the Kid's Fall Festival to educate youth on the subjects of soil and autumn. The library contacted NACD Montana Board Member
for advice on experts who could help teach at the event, and Hedstrom knew right away that the
Lewis and Clark Conservation District
would be the perfect partner to recommend.
At the October event, LCCD Administrator
demonstrated a rainfall simulator to help talk about soil health and the importance of plants, as well as distributed NACD educational materials to anyone interested. Evans estimated over 1,000 people were in attendance, and the traffic was constant as she carried out her lessons.
While Evans had not worked with the library before, she indicated the outcomes were really inspiring.
"We don't always find partners where we think we're going to find partners,"
. "This event came from left field and we were really glad we did it!"
Pictured above, from left to right: Eric Walliman, Adreinne Verlanic, Rachel Rivers, Suzanne Schwichtenberg (front), Patricia Spencer (back), Molly Hudson, Chris Evans.
Remember NACD During Black Friday
and Cyber Monday
Have you started your holiday shopping?
With Black Friday next week and Cyber Monday just around the corner, don't forget to sign in through
and link your Amazon account to "National Association of Conservation Districts Inc" to help support your national association and make an impact.
NRCS Now Accepting CSP Public Comments
On Friday, Nov. 8, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) released its first major program rule implementing the 2018 Farm Bill.
The interim rule implementing the 2018 Farm Bill’s various changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
will be open for public comment
Monday, Jan. 13, 2020
NACD encourages all conservation districts and their partners to review the interim rule and provide comments before the deadline to ensure their local voices continue to be prevalent in the implementation of CSP.
For a refresher of the changes included to CSP in the farm bill, visit
NACD Seeking Items for Annual Meeting
This year's auction proceeds will all go to the
National Conservation Foundation
(NCF), NACD's sister organization, to support NCF's work in advancing the next generation of conservation leaders.
To make a donation,
visit NACD's online donation form
or click the button below. The deadline for all auction items to be included in the 2020 Live Auction booklet is
Friday, Dec. 20, 2019.
Auction items will be accepted on site throughout the day on
Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020.
If you have any questions, please contact NACD South Central Region Representative
Keith Owen at
There are only two weeks left to take advantage of NACD's
Whether it's for the holidays or a birthday, our 14-oz. customized
makes a great gift to show your appreciation for your employees. NACD's fall promotion includes two mugs, professionally engraved with your district's logo.
To order, visit
. To create your custom district logo, please contact NACD Stewardship and Education Coordinator
. The offer is valid through
Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019
Last Week to Submit Public Comments to NRCS Revised Handbook
Recently, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced it is soliciting public comments on all of its conservation practice standards, as required by the 2018 Farm Bill.
This initial set of revisions to 13 practices is open for public comment until
Friday, Nov. 22, 2019.
NACD encourages conservation districts across the country to review these 13 practices and to provide public comments if needed, in order to ensure that they will address local natural resource concerns and meet the needs of district cooperators.
A total of 94 conservation practice standards will be revised over the coming months. To learn more, visit the
Federal Register's website
Deadline for NACD's Poster and Photo Contests Approaches
The annual poster contest is open to students from kindergarten through 12th grade and celebrates the 2019 Stewardship theme “
Life in the Soil: Dig Deeper. ”
The photo contest is open to all amateur photographers who reside in the U.S. or its territories. Contestants are allowed to enter up to five photos in each of the four categories: conservation practices, close-up conservation, conservation in action, and agriculture and conservation across America.
Submissions for both contests are due
Dec. 1, 2019.
To learn more and submit your entry, visit
Promote your conservation district or state association's tree sale, annual meeting, webinar, field day or more on NACD's
Calendar of Events