Forestry tour in California showcases CD-led conservation
Last Thursday, regional leaders who gathered in Sacramento for NACD’s annual Pacific-Southwest Regional Meeting were treated to a forestry tour showcase of conservation districts in northern California.
The first stop was located in Placer County, California, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Placer County RCD board member, Steve Garcia, spoke there about the important role conservation districts play in forest and wildfire fuels management. At the site, conservation district representatives from throughout the region were able to see a timber stand that was owned and managed by Pacifica Gas and Electric. The property had been thinned and managed to be resistant to wildfire, insects, and disease, despite there being little timber industry involvement left in the area to help implement best management practices.
Garcia explained that for this property, the most effective means of treatment was to harvest trees for biomass utilization. However even with the progressive management that was implemented, the area is now seeing damage from pine beetle and is challenged by drought.
Luckily conservation districts can provide the outreach and education necessary to help landowners make informed decisions about managing their forested acreage to maximize overall forest health and timber quality, and reduce the risk of wildfire. For more information about forestry- and wildfire-related issues, visit NACD’s website.
CARCD hosts Pacific-Southwest Regional Meeting
The California Association of Resource Conservation Districts hosted NACD’s joint Pacific-Southwest Regional Meeting in Sacramento last week. Fifty-five attendees, including the furthest traveler Roland Quitugua from Guam, first heard Karen Ross, California’s food and agriculture secretary, give a keynote address on carbon farming. After a panel discussion on forestry and wildfire took place, an afternoon session focused on the future of conservation districts and state associations.
The conservation tour on Thursday started with a visit to an organic walnut ranch. The operation’s owner conserves moisture in his soils with compost and pulverized walnut shells, provides nutrients to his trees using soil health practices, and controls pests without the application of pesticides by using a unique blend of legumes and flowering forbs at different times during the growing season to attract beneficial insects that prey on walnut pests. The Yolo and Solano Resource Conservation Districts hosted a Farm-to-Fork lunch at another farm that provides hands-on training for aspiring new farmers.
Tour attendees also experienced the Sierra foothills where they were briefed on the forest health and tree mortality issues plaguing California conifers. The Placer RCD later treated participants to a wine tasting at Lone Buffalo Winery, and the tour ended with dinner and an auction. Next year’s Pacific-Southwest Regional Meeting will be held in Arizona. Be sure to check out NACD’s website for updates as they become available.
USDA launches $328 million restoration in the Gulf of Mexico
USDA announced yesterday it will support conservation investments on agricultural lands in the Gulf of Mexico region with $328 million in funding. The three-year, farm bill funded strategy is part of USDA’s ongoing effort to improve water quality and help coastal ecosystems heal following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Technical and financial assistance will be provided to landowners through EQIP, CSP, and ACEP to key coastal counties and parishes in the five gulf states. From now through 2018, NRCS will help these agricultural producers plan and implement conservation improvements on 3.2 million acres. For more information, take a look at USDA’s press release.
NACD plays role at Field to Market meetings
NACD, which serves on several Field to Market committees, met with a diverse group of agribusiness, academic, governmental, and other agricultural groups last week in Washington, D.C., to focus on defining, measuring, and advancing the sustainability of food, fiber and fuel production.
Field to Market seeks to engage 20 percent of productive acres of U.S. commodity crop production in its supply chain sustainability program by 2020. NACD Director of Development Melisa Augusto sat in on the awards and recognition committee, which is charged with developing programs for Field to Market members and growers to help accelerate grower adoption of sustainable practices.
NACD Communications Specialist Bill Berry participated on the verification committee meeting, which makes recommendations to the Board of Directors and General Assembly on establishing and revising participation, measurement and impact claims protocols. The committee also oversees engagement with third-party verifiers and ensures ongoing compliance efforts.
For more information on Field to Market and NACD’s engagement with the group, contact Augusto at email@example.com or Berry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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