Successful 70th NACD Annual Meeting in Reno

NACD kicked off 2016 with a successful 70th Annual Meeting in Reno, Nevada. The meeting, held January 31-February 3, focused on the theme “Historic Legacy Guiding a Brighter Future” and featured addresses from USDA NRCS Chief Jason Weller, U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell, a video address by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a Nevada welcome by Congressman Mark Amodei [R-NV 2nd District], and many more!  

This year’s Annual Meeting was a great success and set a record for our Live Auction event. This year’s live auction was sponsored by John Deere and brought in $81,275! Those proceeds will go to fund NACD’s conservation outreach and education efforts. Thank you to everyone who donated to this year’s auction and helped us make this year’s auction one to remember.

During the Appreciation Banquet on Tuesday, February 2, NACD and NRCS announced the winner of the Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award to Larry “Skip” Ahlgren and Diane Ahlgren of Winnett, Montana. NACD also presented the President’s Award to Joe Lomax, NACD Board Member from New Jersey; the Friend of Conservation Award to Chris Wible of Scotts Miracle-Gro; and the Distinguished Service Award to Debbie Moreland, Program Administrator for the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts.  

Also during Tuesday’s banquet, First Vice President Brent Van Dyke of New Mexico was sworn in as NACD President-elect and Gary Moyer of Colorado was sworn in as the new Southwest Region Executive Board Member. NACD also recognized outgoing Southwest Executive Board Member Shaun Sims, for his years of dedication and service and had a special recognition for Charles Holmes, NACD Board Member from Alabama for his nearly 30 years of service. 

During the meeting NACD and National Agriculture in the Classroom signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote education and outreach projects and opportunities of mutual interest and foster collaborative relationships between Conservation Districts and state Agriculture in the Classroom programs. The agreement was signed by NACD President Lee McDaniel and Amber Smyer with Nevada Ag in the Classroom.  

Check out our NACD News page for press releases from the conference with more details on the meetings events. Also, please take a quick moment to fill out our post-conference survey to let us know how we did and ways we can improve for next year. 

NACD would like to thank the host state of Nevada and the Nevada Association of Conservation Districts for all their hard work in pulling off this year's event. We would also like to thank all of the meeting sponsors for their support: Agri Drain Corporation; Bayer CropScience; Bob Warner; Case IH; John Deere; Monsanto; National Farmers Union; Scotts Miracle-Gro; Soil Health Institute; Syngenta; U.S. Forest Service; U.S. Sugar; and Verdesian. 

Pictured:  NACD President Lee McDaniel (left) swearing in NACD President-Elect Brent Van Dyke

Joint Forestry Team at the NACD Annual Meeting

Representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Association of State Foresters and National Association of Conservation Districts gathered at NACD’s annual meeting in Reno, NV last week for the annual Joint Forestry Team meeting. It was the first time the JFT met in conjunction with an NACD event. The group was addressed by leadership, including Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and NRCS Chief Jason Weller who both encouraged the JFT to continue to support all-lands collaborative efforts and to find new ways to reach private forest landowners. 

The JFT discussed findings from a recent state-level forestry survey and began to construct its 2016 work plan. To learn more about the Joint Forestry Team and its mission, visit

President’s FY17 Budget Released

NACD President Lee McDaniel praised the 2017 President’s budget released today as a conservation-minded budget that acknowledges the success of voluntary incentive-based conservation practices coupled with local delivery and technical assistance. 

The President’s budget includes important funding for conservation, including $860.374 million for Conservation Operations, an increase of $29 million over last year’s request and $11 million more than was enacted. 

“The President’s proposed budget signals strong awareness in the administration that conservation practices are the key to our future as a nation and as a sustainable provider for the world’s growing population,” said President McDaniel. 

The President’s budget also emphasizes the importance of Farm Bill conservation programs. Of special note is continued support of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) which retained its authorized acreage level of 10 million acres and the lack of cuts to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which had seen cuts of $300 million in the President’s budget last year. 

“We are excited to see this level of commitment to conservation from the administration and look forward to working with the administration and Congress on priority programs like Conservation Operations, State and Private Forestry Programs, EPA 319 Grants, Watershed Operations, and Farm Bill Conservation Programs,” McDaniel said.

NACD President Lee McDaniel Tours Farms in Puerto Rico

The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) hosted NACD President Lee McDaniel, on a field trip to the Coloso Valley Water Conservation Project during his visit to Puerto Rico the week of January 18, 2016. NRCS partnered with Noroeste SWCD & the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture (PRDA) to help beginning and limited-resource farmers reduce soil erosion and improve irrigation efficiency, runoff management and water quality. Farmers in the area face challenging weather conditions: a seasonal crop water deficit from December to April, and ponding and high water tables during the rainy season. Planned conservation practices include irrigation reservoirs and pipelines, micro-irrigation systems, pumping plants, waste facility covers, residue & tillage management, access control, critical area planting, row arrangement and contour farming. 

Pictured: NACD President Lee McDaniel (2nd from left) visits Coloso Project with Mariano Robledo (Noroeste SWCD District Supervisor), Javier Torres (NRCS San Sebastián Soil Conservationist), Betzaida Marengo (PRDA), Elizabeth Fred (NRCS San Sebastián DC), Rolando Collazo (NRCS Engineear) & NRCS Caribbean Director, Edwin Almodóvar.

NACD Stewardship, Education and Marketplace Update

The following information is being provided in response to questions regarding 2016 Stewardship materials and items for sale through NACD’s online marketplace.  

NACD’s Marketplace will continue to remain open so quality items such as service pins, plaques and wearables are available as always for your district’s or association’s recognition events. 

Regarding 2016 Stewardship Week materials, NACD is going paperless, but the high-quality materials that have been developed will be available for electronic download. Materials will be available for free in both high and low-resolution for electronic download to state associations and districts beginning Tuesday, February 23, if not before. 

And if you still want printed materials for your stewardship program, the inventory of available printed materials has been deeply discounted by 25% through April 30, 2016. Discounts are applied to your cart when you check out. 

Remember, NACD’s Stewardship week is April 24-May 1, so you have plenty of time to stock up on existing materials or make arrangements to use 2016’s new, electronic materials. Additional updates and information will be provided via the weekly eResource newsletter and NACD’s website

Questions can be directed to 

NACD February U&C Webinar

The next NACD Urban and Community Conservation Webinar will be held on February 18 from 12:00 PM-1:00 PM ET. This month’s webinar focuses on “Community Green Space for Health and Wellness.” Health leaders are increasingly advocating the need for natural areas in communities and conservation districts can play key roles in creating and maintaining those spaces. 

Kathleen Wolf, Ph.D is a Research Social Scientist at the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, who will share her research about the importance of urban forestry and green infrastructure in communities for human health and wellness. In her presentation, Dr. Wolf will describe examples of how natural resources and health groups are collaborating, and how partnerships are taking shape. At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will have an idea of the populations served by city trees and parks; understand the values of natural areas to human health; and be able to use this information as an additional tool to promote green space within communities. 

These popular events, held on the third Thursday of each month, are sponsored by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company in partnership with the NACD Urban and Community Resource Policy Group. There is no cost to participate, but space is limited. Registration will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. To register, email Debra Bogar at with your name, title, district or business name, state and email address. Information to access the webinar will be sent by email. 

USDA Announces 2016 CSP Sign-Up

USDA recently announced the availability of $150 million through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The funding will allow NRCS to add an estimated 10 million acres to CSP during fiscal year 2016.  

While NRCS accepts applications for CSP throughout the year, landowners should submit applications by the March 31 deadline to ensure they are considered for enrollment in 2016.  

Landowners with CSP contracts that expire on Dec. 31, 2016 have the option to renew their contracts for an additional five years if they agree to adopt additional activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands. Renewal applications are also due by March 31. 

USDA Announces Wetland Mitigation Banking RFP

USDA has announced a request for proposals to establish wetland mitigation banks. NRCS is making available up to $9 million to develop wetland mitigation banks and market mitigation credits as an option for farmers and ranchers needing to comply with the farm bill’s wetland compliance provisions to maintain eligibility for USDA programs.  

Funds for this grant will be competitively awarded to state and local units of government including conservation districts, federally recognized Tribes, for-profit entities, and nongovernmental organizations.  

NRCS is hosting a webinar tomorrow, Wednesday, February 10, to provide further information and answer questions regarding proposals. The webinar will begin at 3 PM ET and will be available at: 

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