Breakout session submission period about to close…

Now is the time to submit your breakout session proposals for NACD’s 2018 Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee! Breakout sessions – to be held in the afternoon on Monday, January 29 and Tuesday, January 30 – are a fantastic opportunity for you to present on meaningful and relevant topics that help build capacity and connections within our conservation family.

In 2018, each breakout session will be categorized into one of four tracks: (1) communications, (2) district operations, member services, and partnerships; (3) natural resources policy and protection; and (4) stewardship and education. In order to speak as a breakout presenter, you’ll need to fill out the application available here on NACD’s website and email it to NACD Northeast Representative and Policy Specialist Eric Hansen by September 1.

Northeast Region meeting honors and informs conservation leaders

Last week, more than 130 people from the 12 Northeastern states gathered in Burlington, Vermont, for NACD’s Northeast Region Meeting. Participants were treated to a packed agenda, including keynotes from Brandeis University’s Brian Donahue and former Vermont Agriculture Secretary and NASDA President Chuck Ross. Several panel discussions dove into conservation policy and the various roles of districts, including soil and water quality and green stormwater infrastructure.

NACD’s Northeast Representative and Policy Specialist Eric Hansen moderated a plenary panel on the various regulatory and enforcement activities in which some districts are involved. In the Northeast, districts are being asked or required to take on greater enforcement roles within their communities, which is a noticeable departure from their more traditional role as a voluntary technical service provider. As more states, like Vermont, are asked to take on these responsibilities, it’s critical that state associations and districts share best practices with one another.

Another highlight of the meeting was a dinner cruise on Lake Champlain. During the meal, the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts presented their annual awards. NACD’s own Rich Duesterhaus, director of projects and partnerships, was recognized for his longtime commitment to conservation districts and the conservation movement.

Minnesota governor sits down with SWCDs, producers on water quality

Minnesota SWCDs are contributing to water policy discussions with the state’s governor, Mark Dayton, in “water town halls” this summer, held in part to build support for the governor's plan to reduce water pollution by 25 percent by 2025.

One of the attendees of the second town hall, Mapleton corn and soybean farmer Steve Trio, told the governor he’s taken personal responsibility for how agricultural production has impacted the Cobb River, even going as far as installing buffers, conducting soil tests, and adding a containment system around his fuel tanks long before it was required.

"The thing is, we all gotta dig into this thing, farmers included," Trio said in a story published by the Mankato Free Press. When Governor Dayton asked Trio’s advice on getting all farmers on board, Trio told him to let farmers work with their soil and water conservation districts.

The Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ President Kurt Beckstrom, who was present at the Mankato meeting where Trio spoke, “encourage(d) the SWCD citizen board members to attend the remaining town hall meetings and share their insight on addressing the water quality, soil health, and forestry issues in your district.”

NACD thanks Tom Tidwell for service, welcomes new Chief Tony Tooke

Last Friday, the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service Tom Tidwell announced his retirement after 40 years of service to the agency. Tony Tooke, who is currently serving as the Regional Forester for the Southern Region, will succeed Tidwell starting September 1.

“NACD congratulates Chief Tidwell on his many years of dedicated service and is grateful for all he has accomplished as a friend of conservation,” NACD CEO Jeremy Peters said. “We look forward to working with Chief Tooke in his new role to address barriers to forest health nationwide, and to ensure conservation districts play a role in both public and private lands conservation.”

Tooke has worked for the Forest Service since he was 18 years old. Prior to becoming a Regional Forester, he was the Associate Deputy Chief for the National Forest System (NFS), Director for Ecosystem Management Coordination, Deputy Director for Economic Recovery, and Assistant Director for Forest Management.

“Tony has been preparing for this role for his whole professional life, and at a time when we face active and growing fires, his transition into leadership will be seamless... His focus will be on ensuring we are good neighbors and are managing our forests effectively, efficiently, and responsibly, as well as working with states and local governments to ensure the utmost collaboration,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said.

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