By NACD Presidents Association

Before NACD’s 1962 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, an affiliate organization didn’t exist to support and champion the individuals who served as presidents of their state associations. Luckily, that changed when the “Association of Past Presidents of State Associations of Conservation Districts" was formally established through a bylaw amendment at NACD’s 1963 Annual Meeting in Denver. (Learn more about how the Presidents Association has contributed to NACD’s success over the last 64 years by clicking here!)

Several years passed before the group’s name was shortened to the NACD Presidents Association to include past and current presidents of state and territory associations; but did you know the mission of the organization hasn’t changed since 1963? (Did you know all past state association and NACD presidents are members of the Presidents Association? Submit your updated contact info here on NACD’s website to receive all of the Presidents Association’s latest updates.)

You can read this month’s Did You Know? in full on NACD’s blog. And don’t forget - any individual, state, agency, or district can write a Did You Know? article and have it featured on NACD’s blog and in eResource. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions for future editions, contact NACD Southeast Representative Phylis Vandevere.

What’s happening in Washington, D.C.?

As Congress returns to Capitol Hill after Thanksgiving, an important deadline looms large. Lawmakers have until next Friday – December 9 – to pass a stopgap measure to avoid a government shutdown. Right now, it seems Congress is leaning toward passing a short-term, continuing resolution that extends into March, rather than a funding bill that goes through the end of the Fiscal Year 2017. If this is the case, funding levels for FY 2017 programs that conservation districts utilize will likely stay at FY 2016 levels. NACD will continue to closely monitor appropriations discussions on Capitol Hill and advocate for robust funding for programs that support locally-led, voluntary conservation.

In other news, President-elect Trump’s pick to head the EPA may be coming soon. Two candidates, who are said to be the front runners for the position, recently met with the President-elect at his New York City office: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and Kathleen Hartnett, director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Both Pruitt and Hartnett have opposed the EPA’s waters of the U.S. rule and hail from oil- and gas-rich states. As for the head of USDA – no favorites are known. Trump hasn’t held meetings with any potential candidates and it’s expected the pick will come from his Agricultural Advisory Committee.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service submits ESA policy, initiates review of LPC

Last Monday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a notice of its final Endangered Species Act mitigation policy in the Federal Register. NACD submitted comments this past spring on the agency’s proposed revision to the policy, and by early December, our members can expect a detailed comparison of the final mitigation policy and NACD’s spring comments. Right now, the Service’s proposed ESA Compensatory Mitigation Policy is still under review. If when Trump takes office his administration decides to eliminate the rule, they are free to do so.

This morning, the Service announced its intention to move forward with a 12-month review of the lesser-prairie chicken to determine whether the species warrants protections under the ESA. A September petition filed by WildEarth Guardians, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Center for Biological Diversity required the agency to determine whether a review was necessary.

In March 2014, the Service listed the lesser prairie chicken as threatened under the ESA. In September 2015, the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Texas ruled the Service's decision did not properly evaluate existing conservation plans. In July 2016, the Service removed the lesser prairie chicken from the list due to this decision.

The Service’s notice to review will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, November 30, and comments will be accepted through January 30, 2017.

NACD leaders brief membership at state association meetings

NACD’s officers spent many hours on the road in November visiting with members at state association meetings.

NACD President Lee McDaniel visited with the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts during their annual meeting held November 14-16. President-elect Brent Van Dyke attended annual meetings for the Alabama Association of Conservation Districts November 13-15 and the Idaho Association of Soil Conservation Districts November 15-18. CEO Jeremy Peters attended the annual meetings for the Nevada Association of Conservation Districts November 14-16 and the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts November 20-22. Second Vice President Dick Went attended the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts annual meeting November 20-22.

The officers briefed meeting attendees on current NACD programs and initiatives including the National Conservation Planning Partnership, Conservation Planning Boot Camp, NACD’s Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative and the policy outlook for the new administration and congressional make-up as a farm bill reauthorization approaches. The officers also stressed the importance of grassroots participation in the policy process, which will on many issues culminate at NACD’s 2017 Annual Meeting in Denver.

Today is #GivingTuesday!

Giving Tuesday is the perfect time to show your appreciation for locally-led, voluntary conservation. You could become a Friend of NACD, stay active in your state association, promote soil health practices, or register for NACD’s 2017 Annual Meeting – whatever you do to support conservation, we salute you!

This Giving Tuesday, NACD is celebrating the first inductee to the NACD Hall of Distinction – an Ohioan who gave so much to his community through conservation. Clarence Durban (pictured) served in conservation district leadership positions for nearly three decades. He provided tremendous leadership to NACD as the association’s president from 1985 to 1988 and was integral in securing the organization’s Capitol Hill headquarters, which strengthened NACD's visibility and carved out a place for conservation in Washington, D.C.

To learn more about Clarence and his contributions to national conservation efforts, head over to our Hall of Distinction page. In the coming months, we expect to add to the page many more photos and biographies of those who have made the Conservation Movement possible.

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