On Monday, Aug. 6, NACD President Brent Van Dyke and National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Vice President of Conservation Ross Melinchuk signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) during the 2018 Summer Conservation Forum and Tour and Southeast Region Meeting in Williamsburg, Va.

The MOU between NACD and NWTF establishes an agreement to enhance the productivity of wild turkey and other wildlife habitats on private lands. Additionally, the agreement signifies the commitment both organizations share to collaborate on future engagements and events. Activities include wild turkey and habitat conservation projects, delivering education materials, habitat restoration, and developing habitat enhancement techniques.

“You can’t have a healthy turkey population without healthy forests,” Van Dyke said. “Today’s signed agreement demonstrates the commitment both NACD and NWTF share in enhancing our natural resources, particularly through increasing forest health. This agreement provides both entities with the unique ability to promote and implement conservation practices at the local level.”

NACD and NWTF have worked together through a number of national efforts, including the Forests in the Farm Bill coalition. Additionally, both organizations have collaborated in several states across the country to staff wildlife biologists and other positions that otherwise would go unfilled. Through common partners like the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and state forestry agencies, NACD and NWTF are addressing resource concerns and delivering conservation programs to enhance and conserve natural resources.


During his keynote speech at the Aug. 6 conservation forum, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey announced a three-year action plan by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help agricultural producers improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Action Plan aims to improve water quality on 920,000 acres, soil health on 700,000 acres and fish and wildlife habitat on 120,000 acres.

In a press release published on Tuesday, Aug. 7, NACD applauded NRCS’ recommitment to help producers implement improvements on their land through locally-led conservation practices and programs.

“Conservation districts located throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed have been working toward a full cleanup of the bay by 2025,” NACD President Brent Van Dyke said. “Through conservation practices, including nutrient and sediment runoff reduction, farmers are taking voluntary steps to advance the recovery of the largest estuary in the country. The environmental gains the bay area has achieved are a testament to their efforts, and we applaud this administration’s commitment to support conservation districts in their efforts to improve water quality and natural resources for the watershed.”

As part of this plan, NRCS is issuing competitive cooperative agreements, which will fund projects in Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania. Applications are due September 1.


After a week of networking, education and inspiration, NACD and the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) concluded the 2018 Summer Conservation Forum and Tour and Southeast Region Meeting Tuesday afternoon with four tours.

Meeting-goers had the opportunity to pick between four tour tracks: agriculture; coastal and urban; forestry and education; and historical. Attendees visited important sites across the region, including historic Jamestown, the first successful English colony in North America. Throughout the meeting, organizers and meeting participants alike have celebrated the historical leadership exhibited in Williamsburg both by our nation's settlers and founding fathers.

Tour attendees visited Upper Shirley Vineyards and Renwood Fields in Charles City, Va., home to the world record holder for corn yield. Participants also visited The Watermen's Museum and The Virginia Institute of Marine Science to learn more about marshlands and the Chesapeake Bay watershed's importance to the region and the New Kent Forestry Center to learn about one of Virginia's most significant industries.

Meeting-goers on the historical tour visited historic Jamestown, established in 1607, where they had the opportunity to learn about archaeological investigations conducted by the National Park Service and see a period-authentic glassblowing demonstration.

NACD and VASWCD extend their thanks to the conservation forum speakers, concurrent session moderators and presenters and meeting attendees for their contributions and leadership this week. NACD additionally would like to thank VASWCD for their role in hosting this successful 2018 Conservation Forum and Tour and Southeast Region Meeting. The 2019 NACD Southeast Region Meeting will be held in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

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