Wyo conservation districts participate at NACD
Anaheim, Calif. – While Wyoming temperatures dipped below zero, a number of representatives from a variety of Wyoming conservation districts attended the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Annual Meeting, held this year in Anaheim, Calif. on Feb. 2-5.
“The conference went very well,” says Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) Executive Director Bobbie Frank. “It was productive for us as an association, and we had good representation from Wyoming.”
Frank notes that representatives from the Washakie County, Popo Agie, Converse County, Weston County, Campbell County, Uinta County, Little Snake River and Laramie County Conservation Districts, along with representatives from WACD, were all present in California.
During the convention, Frank notes that many people were excited to hear that the Farm Bill passed the Senate, marking achievements for all conservation districts across the country.
“We heard an update from Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Jason Weller on Feb. 4 about the streamlining and consolidation of Farm Bill programs,” Frank comments. “Hopefully this will make things easier for producers.”
WACD brought a resolution forward to NACD several years ago urging consolidation of the programs to simplify conservation efforts for producers, as well as for NRCS staff members.
“Now they are going to go into regulation development,” says Frank.
As a major topic discussed during the event, Frank notes that the organization passed a resolution on sage grouse and the BLM and Forest Service land use and resource management plans.
“It took some work to pass the resolution, but we got it through working with Oregon, Colorado and New Mexico,” she explains. “Oregon brought the resolution forward, and it was adopted by the full board of directors on Feb. 4.”
The resolution initially died in committee, but after some work, it was brought forward on the floor.
“To receive consideration on the floor, resolutions must receive a two-thirds majority vote,” Frank says. “It was overall passed with only two no votes.”
The resolution addresses concerns with the BLM’s approach to sage grouse issues, and Frank says that regardless of Wyoming’s Executive Order on sage grouse, WACD agreed with all aspects of the resolution.
“The resolution supported range-wide disturbance caps but only if they are developed by state, local or multi-jurisdictional efforts,” she explains. “It also looks at efforts to provide adequate funding for biological control chemicals for invasive species control, which we support.”
Efforts to manage invasive species on public lands and the use of candidate conservation agreements with assurances on public lands as a voluntary tool for producers were also represented in the resolution.
“The Oregon conservation district that developed the resolution did a great job,” Frank adds, “and we were overall able to get it passed, even though most of the country doesn’t have to deal with sage grouse.”
“Seeing the western states all pull together to get this resolution passed was the most significant part of the conference,” she says. “That was really great.”
During the conference, representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency also spoke and addressed continuing water concerns.
“The Government Accountability Office issued a report in December that talks about how the Clean Water Act needs changed to allow EPA to regulate non-point sources,” Frank says. “The EPA briefly touched on that.”
In addition, the agency emphasized cooperation and coordination with local agencies and its importance in regulating waters.
“It was overall a pretty quiet convention, but it was a good event,” Frank adds. “It is great to see western states pulling together and to see a Farm Bill come out.”
In addition to attending the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) annual meeting. Wyoming participants are involved at a higher level.
Shaun Sims is a member of the NACD Executive Board, representing the Southwest Region, and Travis Haskert of Campbell County serves as Wyoming's voting delegate.
"Jeri Trebelcock from the Popo Agie Conservation District also represents the Southwest Region for the employees association," says Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts Executive Director Bobbie Frank. "We have some very active members."