The NACD Stewardship and Education Committee is excited to announce the release of the 2021 Poster Contest and Stewardship Week theme: “
Healthy Forests = Healthy Communities
Trees and forests are critical in providing clean air and water, healthy soil, abundant wildlife habitat and valuable resources we use every day.
Rules, entry forms and other resources for the 2021 NACD Poster Contest will be available for download later this summer.
PACIFIC DISTRICTS ADAPT TO SOCIAL DISTANCING
Shelter in place orders haven't stopped Pacific Region conservation districts from continuing their valuable services to their communities. Across the region, conservation districts have showcased resiliency and adaptability in functioning under current working guidelines.
Many conservation districts have adjusted to strict restrictions regarding how to engage with producers and ranchers: They are now using teleconferencing tools to conduct virtual field visits, developing protocols for wearing personal protective equipment, and social distancing when field visits are necessary. Some conservation districts, like the
Clark Conservation District
(CD) in Washington State, are also helping link farmers and ranchers to consumers via mobile platforms like the
Clark Food and Farm Network
Virtual activities have proliferated across the region with the
Hawaii Association of Conservation Districts (HACD) leading the way in scheduling a virtual annual board meeting for June.
Likewise, with transportation in Alaska already being a challenge, including restricted ferry routes and office closures, many conservation districts are taking advantage of technology to conduct their board meetings.
"People are coming around to Zoom,"
said NACD Board Member and Alaska Association of Conservation Districts
President Chris Rainwater.
Several regional board meetings for CARCD also occurred virtually last week, with conservation district staff and board members, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and partner organizations highlighting the creative ways work continues during this time. Notably, the
Resource Conservation District
(RCD) in California celebrated a
Virtual Earth Week
, with virtual events like “Meet your Local Conservationists” and “Diving into the Weeds of the Delta.”
In spite of the inability to meet in person, conservation districts are continuing to develop new partnerships and collaborative approaches to landscape-level conservation. For example, California's
its NACD Technical Assistance Grant
to partner with several local RCDs on a new program supporting low-income communities in resiliency to wildfires.
“Conservation districts across the nation are facing a tough series of circumstances this year,”
NACD President-elect Michael Crowder said. "But through our strong partnerships and dedication, I know conservation districts will be able to keep their boots on the ground and further the conservation partnership nationwide.”
Todd Ballard (pictured right) and his family have been farming in the Kimberly, Idaho area for over 100 years. His normal crop rotation is beans, barley and hay. As a self-proclaimed cover crop nerd, one of Ballard’s main focuses is experimenting with cover crops.
Ballard and his dad,
Ron, started experimenting with cover crops a few years ago as part of a conservation district program. One of the benefits they noticed almost immediately was the water holding capacity of the soil. Even ten days after they irrigated the field with a center pivot, a quick soil moisture test revealed there was still adequate moisture for growing the crop. In 2018, Ballard installed water meters in the fields to continue tracking soil moisture.
Ballard has experimented with varying the planting times for cover crops, trying different methods for termination, using different varieties of mixes, and utilizing direct seeding for both cover crops and his cash crop into residue. Through trial and error, he’s not only increased his knowledge but has increased the soil health in his fields. He has become more efficient in nutrient cycling and irrigation management.
Ballard’s advice to producers still weighing the benefits and costs of soil health practices is to not be afraid to try them. Both no-tilling and cover crops have benefited his operation in many ways. There is no singular benefit that he sees. Instead, there are many.
To learn more about Ballard’s operation and his experiments with cover crops, visit his
If you or someone you know would like to become a member of the NACD Soil Health Champions Network, please visit the NACD website for more information or contact NACD North Central Region Representative
with your questions.
MAY U&C WEBINAR FOCUSES ON STORMWATER MANAGEMENT
The next NACD Urban and Community (U&C) Conservation webinar, scheduled for
12:00-1:00 p.m. Eastern
May 21, 2020
, will explore ways conservation districts are tackling stormwater management.
Lake Tahoe, known for its exceptional clear blue waters, was designated an “outstanding national resource water” under the Clean Water Act of 1972, which prohibits any degradation. However, with increased urbanization over the last 50 years, the lake's clarity has decreased to an average of 65 feet. The
Tahoe Resource Conservation District in California will share how it partnered with local government agencies around the lake to work on returning clarity to 100 feet by 2076, using a variety of effective stormwater treatment and management strategies.
Three years ago, the
Snohomish Conservation District in Washington State entered a partnership with the Veterans Affairs (VA) office to create an implementation crew composed entirely of military veterans. The crew, known as the Veterans Conservation Corps, conducts various stormwater management projects across Puget Sound, including building rain gardens, harvesting rainwater and depaving. The Snohomish CD will cover its current work and the keys to a successful partnership with the VA.
These popular webinars, held on the third Thursday of each month, are sponsored by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation in partnership with the NACD Urban and Community Resource Policy Group. There is no cost to participate, but space is limited. Registration will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Support NACD this Mother's Day
Mother's Day is coming up on Sunday, May 10. Find the perfect gift at
. We've added several new items to our catalog, including travel mugs and rain jackets
just in time for the spring weather. Save big on plenty of high-quality items by buying from NACD!
You can also link your Amazon account to "National Association of Conservation Districts Inc" or "National Conservation Foundation" by visiting
When you shop for Mother's Day gifts, AmazonSmile donates a portion of every purchase to NACD.
$15 Million for CIG
Last week, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced a $15 million investment through the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program to help support the adoption of innovative conservation approaches on agricultural lands.
CIG projects inspire creative problem-solving solutions that boost production and improve natural resources on various lands. This year's priorities are water reuse, water quality, air quality, energy and wildlife habitat. Applications are due
Monday, June 29, 2020
. To learn more, visit
SCOTUS Rules in
Favor of Maui Groundwater Case
On Thursday, April 23, the Supreme Court of the United States
ruled in favor
of the Hawaii Wildlife Fund in the case
County of Muoi v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund
, which leaves open the possibility the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can regulate groundwater.
In a 6-3 decision,
Justice Stephen Breyer
wrote the majority opinion, stating, "although this interpretation does not present as clear a line as the other interpretations proffered, the EPA has applied the permitting provision to some discharges through groundwater for over 30 years."
USDA Offers New
CRP Pilot Program
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced it will open signup this summer for CLEAR30, a new pilot program that offers farmers and landowners an opportunity to enroll in a 30-year Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contract. This pilot is available to farmers and landowners with expiring water quality practice CRP contracts in the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay regions.
The program signup period is
Aug. 21, 2020
. To learn more, visit
Montana Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) is currently seeking an executive director to serve as an advocate for conservation districts in Montana.
This position will work to support conservation districts and help develop supplemental programs and partner relationships. For full details, visit
. The position is open until filled.
USDA ARS Final
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) National Program 212 (NP212) Soil and Air will hold its final listening session this
Thursday, May 7
1:00 p.m. Eastern
The listening session, which asks participants to help ARS plan the next five-year research cycle, will be held
will run for approximately two hours.
In addition to participation by voice and input in the listening sessions, ARS is also inviting stakeholders to send written statements about their research priorities. To learn more, visit
USDA ARS website
Promote your conservation district or state association's tree sale, annual meeting, webinar, field day or more on NACD's
Calendar of Events