Wyoming represented at National Association of Conservation Districts Annual MeetingWritten by Saige Albert
Reno, Nev. – Representatives of the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) represented the state’s 34 local conservation districts in the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Annual Meeting, held Jan. 31 to Feb. 3 in Reno, Nev.
The NACD Annual Meeting brings together top conservation leaders from across the nation for educational sessions, workshops, networking and national awards recognizing leaders in conservation.
“This annual convention is an important venue for our issues from Wyoming and our fellow western states to be discussed and policy to be established,” said Shaun Sims, WACD president.
A highlight of the 2016 meeting was passage of a key resolution that Wyoming has been working on for several years.
“We worked with our counterparts from Kansas and several other states to see the successful passage of a policy resolution opposing the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule,” said Brian Lovett, Wyoming’s National Board delegate. “Having recognition across our organization of the challenges the WOTUS rule will present in implementing conservation and management practices is very important to us.”
WACD Executive Director Bobbie Frank noted that Wyoming brought a similar resolution last year, but it failed.
“We already had policy that opposed the expansion of jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, but this resolutions strengthened that,” Frank said.
The resolution reads, “NACD supports the repeal of the WOTUS rule through the legislative process through U.S. Congress and supports efforts to gain judicial relief for the WOTUS rule.”
Frank added that WACD also shared examples of overreach that are already going on.
“During the convention, there were a number of resolutions that were addressed, but many didn’t have an impact on Wyoming,” she said.
Honors and education
Also during the event, WACD received recognition on several fronts.
“Shaun Sims finished his term and went off as an executive board member,” Frank commented. “He was recognized for his service.”
Wyoming’s programs for district training were also recognized by NACD during the event.
NACD also featured a number of informational presentations, of which Wyoming speakers presented several.
Frank spoke during one of the break-out sessions, describing the Pathway to Water Quality project, and WACD’s Cathy Rosenthal presented on the categorical Use Attainability Analysis that Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality released.
“Cathy talked about how we helped DEQ with field verifications and worked collaboratively with them,” Frank explained.
Congressman Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) kicked off the Feb. 1 general session with a Nevada welcome address, and change management consultant and motivational speaker Michael Tchong served as the session’s keynote speaker. A Leadership Luncheon that day featured remarks by National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson.
A General Session on Feb. 2 included presentations from U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Jason Weller on their work to build the legacy of natural resource conservation and the importance locally led conservation has had in those conservation efforts.
The sessions also featured a special video address from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who mirrored Weller’s emphasis on the importance of local leadership to get conservation on the ground and the value of creating and sustaining partnerships at the local, state, regional and national levels.
The session concluded with a panel discussion that featured the National Conservation Planning Partnership Leadership Team. The panel shared their vision for the future of conservation planning and the work already underway in an effort to reinvigorate conservation planning as the foundation for voluntary conservation delivery.