1 – NCDEA
The National Conservation District Employees Association (NCDEA) has been very active since the National Association of Conservation District’s (NACD) annual meeting in Nashville at the end of January 2018.
(I did not get as much from the Nashville meeting as I had hoped because I spent much of that time staying away from people. Somewhere just before the meeting began, I contracted the flu. I didn’t realize I was ill until after the first day. I was ill for much of February and am still catching up on tasks!)
Last year, the NCDEA Board decided to meet monthly, usually by teleconference. After the in-person meeting in Nashville, the Board has held regular teleconferences in February, March, and April.
You probably know that NCDEA is one of five core partners behind the National Conservation Planning Partnership. You may not be aware that conservation district staff are eligible to receive training through the Conservation Planning Boot Camp.
Who is eligible?
- Any employee of a soil and water conservation district, soil conservation district, resource conservation district or natural resource district
- Soil and water conservation state agency employees who work in district offices
- District employee funded by the county
- Tribal conservation district employee
Listening sessions about NCPP are occurring around the country now. I will be representing NCDEA at a session in Washington State in May.
It’s safe to say that NCDEA is paying close attention to NRCS’s new mission area called FPAC (Farm Production and Conservation). FPAC combines these three agencies under one umbrella: Farm Services Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Risk Management Agency.
In addition, a new administrative entity called the FPAC Business Center has been created. The Business Center will have authority over information technology. One goal is probably to shift some administrative burden from the FPAC agencies, thus allowing them to focus more energy on their core missions.
My take is that NCDEA is concerned about how FPAC may affect conservation delivery and conservation districts. So far, conservation districts have not figured significantly in the high-level discussions occurring around FPAC. This will probably change as newer leaders recognize the degree to which our core partners depend upon the effective local conservation delivery system we know as conservation districts. The process of creating and implementing FPAC is still very new, and I have hope that such realizations are just around the corner.
At the Nashville meeting, I was appointed by NCDEA President Tim Riley to chair our internal Communications Committee. President Riley has some goals in mind for the Committee, including taking a look at improving NCDEA branding, the website, and outreach through social media.
The Committee held a teleconference in April to begin work on those goals and more. As always, I welcome feedback.
2 – NACD
NACD Tribal Outreach and Partnership RPG
I was appointed as one of two NCDEA representatives on the NACD Tribal Outreach and Partnership (TOP) Resource Policy Group (RPG). This group met in Nashville and continues to meet monthly.
The purpose of the TOP RPG is to promote and support NACD member efforts to establish partnerships with tribes that help put additional conservation on the ground.
The TOP RPG operates on a national scale.
NACD Urban and Community RPG
Your alternate NCDEA Pacific Region representative is Vicki Carter with the Spokane Conservation District in Spokane, Washington. Vicki was recently appointed to represent NCDEA on the NACD Urban and Community Resource Policy Group.
The Urban and Community RPG operates nationally.
3 – Pacific Region
- American Samoa
- Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
- Federated States of Micronesia
- Republic of Palau
I recently attended the annual training conference delivered by OCEAN (Oregon Conservation Education and Assistance Network) and partners in Seaside, Oregon. The core audiences for CONNECT 2018 included directors and employees of soil and water conservation districts, and board members and employees of watershed councils. Quite a few land trust folks attended this year, too, along with representatives of important partner agencies.
I’ve attended CONNECT annually for several years. Attendance this year was up. I estimate about 300 people attended, and if so, that is a record for the ten years that CONNECT has been offered. Presentations were informative and of high quality.
OCEAN provided numerous scholarships for folks who might otherwise have trouble covering the cost of attending CONNECT.
At the OCEAN annual meeting held at CONNECT 2018, OCEAN President Jason Faucera declined to run for president again. Jeremy Baker and Shilah Olson were elected as president and vice-president, respectively. Jeremy hails from the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District in Portland, Oregon. Shilah is with the Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District in The Dalles, Oregon.
Jeremy is a past-president of OCEAN and Shilah has also served previously on OCEAN’s board. I’m sure that they will continue the growth that occurred while Jason was at the helm. Jason remains on OCEAN’s board. Thank you to Jason for his great work, and congratulations to Jeremy and Shilah!
WADE (Washington Association of District Employees) President Denise Smee recently stepped down, turning the reigns over to then-Vice-President Chrissy Cooley with the Pierce Conservation District. Denise has left the Clark Conservation District but is still involved in conservation work through the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board.
I’ve known Denise for many years and wish to extend my thanks for the fine work she has done to advance conservation in her community, through her presidency of WADE, and her participation in numerous initiatives in partnership with the Washington Association of Conservation Districts and the Washington State Conservation Commission.
I will be attending WADE’s annual training event in June in Leavenworth, Washington to present a session and represent NCDEA.
If you follow the NCDEA Pacific Region website, you probably noticed that it changed in April. For the past year or so, I had been using Flipboard to share information about Pacific Region conservation districts in the news. Changes made by Flipboard diluted my ability to provide meaningful content, so in April 2018 I switched to publishing conservation district news on the NCDEA Pacific Region website.
I encourage you to visit the NCDEA Pacific Region website. I’m sure you’ll gain an appreciation for the breadth and depth of conservation district activities in the region, and maybe you’ll get a new idea or two that can be applied in your own conservation district.
If you want to be sure to not miss a post, subscribe to the newsletter. I recently reconfigure the newsletter to automatically roll-up all of the NCDEA Pacific Region posts on a monthly basis.
4 – Clackamas SWCD
My work for the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District keeps me very busy. With a seven-member board and 16 employees, we have tremendous capacity and we tend to use it all!
It’s our annual budget time; because we get a voter-approved property tax to help support the District, we are required to follow Oregon’s Local Budget Law requirements.
Working forest acquisition
We are also seeking to acquire a 318-acre industrial forest to protect and improve habitat for fish and wildlife, and to provide habitat-friendly recreation opportunities. Over the long-term, this working forest property will also produce revenue through occasional timber harvests. This acquisition is not a done deal but I expect it will close in 2018.
New office facility
Ground-breaking should occur this year for the District’s new Conservation Resource Center. This facility will combine office, meeting, and education space on 15 acres the District owns just outside of Oregon City, Oregon. We will have room for our USDA partners in the facility.
I also sit on a technical committee for the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program, a new venture to find ways to keep good farmland available for future generations.
According to the OAHP website: “Oregon’s well-managed agricultural lands are the cornerstone of the state’s rural communities. They support valuable fish and wildlife habitat, and enhance other natural resources. Yet farms and ranches are increasingly challenged by fragmentation of farmland, conversion of farmland to non-farm uses, complex regulations, and planning for generational transfers.”
Working to preserve farmland for future farmers aligns with the views of Clackamas SWCD’s board of directors.
5 – Still finding time for renewal
Yes, between work, NCDEA, and family, I’m pretty busy. Nevertheless, my spouse and I still find time to get out and enjoy some of the many incredible places the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
I encourage you to take time to take care of yourself. The work you do for conservation and your community is important, and that means you are important!
6 – Feedback is welcome
Your comments, ideas, and suggestions are always welcome. Please let me know of employee changes, too.
Do share this information with other conservation district employees in the Pacific Region!