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Natural Resources

Wyoming Represented: WACD well represented at NACD annual meeting

San Antonio, Texas – Wyoming’s Association of Conservation Districts was well represented at the 2013 National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Annual Meeting this year, held Jan. 27-29, with 14 people attending and Wyoming’s citizens receiving prestigious awards and positions at the event.

“It was a good event,” comments Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) President Shaun Sims. “I think we got a lot done.”

Executive Board

Among honors bestowed on Wyoming people, Sims was elected to the NACD Executive Board representing the Southwest Region.

“I will take on duties that involve the operations of NACD,” Sims explains, clarifying that the position involves overseeing overall NACD activities, rather than day-to-day operations. “I was also appointed as chairman of the Natural Resources Policy Committee.”

  NACD leadership involves a four person officer team, the executive board and a board of directors. Sims served on the board of directors representing Wyoming prior to his election to this position.

    “I think it will be good for me to have some national exposure and experience running an association of this size,” Sims comments. “For Wyoming, it also gives us more of a voice to be heard. I’ll be able to take the ideals from the West and represent our issues to the executive board.”

Because Sims is filling Brent Van Dyke of New Mexico’s position after Van Dyke’s election to the officer team, his term ends in September.

“I do plan to run again in September,” Sims comments, noting that, if elected, he will serve a two-year term on the board.  

Grant awards

Sims wasn’t the only member of Wyoming’s delegation recognized at the event. The Converse County Conservation District was also recognized for the Pathways to Water Quality project and awarded $10,000 to complete the project this year.

“We congratulate the Converse County district on being selected to receive this grant,” says Bobbie Frank, executive director of the Wyoming Natural Resource Foundation. “Thanks to the generous support of private donors and the grant funding awarded we are closing in on our fundraising goal to complete the final portion of this project.”

The grant, sponsored by the National Conservation Foundation and the NACD Past President’s Association, is given to a conservation district sponsored project the highlights natural resources and conservation.

“The project isn’t just Converse County Conservation District,” comments Michelle Huntington, the district’s manager. “There are a number of partners who have volunteered time and supported the project financially. We are pleased to be a part of it.”

Huntington notes that the Converse County project was selected from 18 applicants. Those 18 were narrowed down to three, which were presented at a luncheon during the NACD meeting.

“The membership voted on which project should win the award, and Converse County was selected,” says Sims.

“We are hoping to complete the project before the 2013 state fair,” adds Huntington. “Converse County Conservation District is thrilled to be honored at the national level for this project.”

Also at NACD, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and WACD were recognized for the District Official Training program.

“The Wyoming Department of Agriculture has worked hard with us on this training program,” comments Frank.

Issues and resolutions

In addition to recognition, Wyoming also helped in getting several state resolutions through the national resolution process.

“We had a resolution we took from our convention dealing with support for the funding for plant materials center that Wyoming and Montana jointly own,” explains Frank. “Those are NRCS operated material centers that do a lot of research on plant production and species production, so they are very important.”

Frank notes that USDA has considered closing the centers, and WACD was concerned, so they brought the resolution forward. 

“The resolution was combined with one brought forward by eastern states and asked that no cuts be made without consultation from the affected states,” continues Frank. 

She adds that resolutions concerning comprehensive reform of the Endangered Species Act were brought forward and passed, as well.

“Other states in the West are facing the same issues we are, with endangered species and water quality issues, among other things,” says Sims. “We had some very good resolutions that looked at strengthening the policy on Endangered Species Act reform and sage grouse.”

Pathway to Water Quality

The Pathway to Water Quality project is entering its final stage this year, and Converse County Conservation District Manager Michelle Huntington notes that it will be completed before the 2013 Wyoming State Fair.

“Specifically, we are going to be putting a split rail fence around the perimeter of the wetlands, and we will be putting a boardwalk through the wetlands area so people can walk through it.”

She also adds that a seating area and gathering spot will be featured in the wetlands area with interpretive signage.

“The Pathway to Water Quality is a premier project that highlights the importance of water, riparian and wetland resources and conservation to our state,” says Huntington.

The project, located on the Wyoming State Fairgrounds, enjoys a number of partners, including Encana Oil and Gas (USA) Inc., Cameco Resources, The Nature Conservancy, Converse County Weed and Pest and Conservation Districts, Wyoming Weed and Pest Council, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Department of Environmental Quality/U.S. EPA, Wyoming State Forestry Division, Southeast Wyoming Resource Conservation and Development Council, Wyoming Community Foundation and the Wyoming Natural Resource Foundation.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at saige@wylr.net.