NACD at White House Water Summit

As part of World Water Day, the White House hosted a Water Summit to support the federal action plan of the National Drought Resilience Partnership. NACD’s Natural Resources Policy Specialist Chris Heck, was in attendance. The summit, held on March 22, consisted of nine panels discussions covering topics ranging from water science and watershed management to infrastructure and commitment announcements. Throughout the day, several panels showcased and complimented the work being done by conservation districts across the country. The day’s events concluded with the White House’s hosting of an interactive demonstration featuring booths and displays showing innovative solutions to water challenges.

NACD Meets with South Dakota Partners

NACD’s efforts to stay engaged with state partners took Communications Specialist Bill Berry, to South Dakota March 28-30 at the invitation of NRCS State Conservationist Jeff Zimprich.

Zimprich invited Berry to join him and state agency leaders for a discussion on state water quality certainty programs and how they can be complementary to NRCS’s new Resource Stewardship Evaluation (RSE). Certainty programs and the new RSE planning tool offer states and producers an opportunity to partner with public- and private-sector groups interested in agricultural stewardship and supply-chain sustainability. 

While at the meeting, Berry reviewed NACD’s State Water Quality Certainty Primer with the South Dakota leaders which included: South Dakota Department of Agriculture Deputy Director Kyle Holt, Department of Game, Fish and Parks Secretary Kelly Hepler, state FSA Director Craig Schaunaman, and South Dakota State University Dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences and Extension Director Barry Dunn.  

NRCS State Conservationist Zimprich’s soil health team also provided an update on South Dakota’s extensive soil health efforts. The NRCS team was joined by South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts Executive Director Angela Ehlers and her contract staffers, Chuck Lebeda and Mike Kuch, for the soil health discussion. The South Dakota Association has worked closely with NRCS to develop the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition. The coalition is a collective effort to increase sustainable agriculture production through diversification and improved soil health.  

Ehlers, NRCS Public Information Specialist Colette Kessler and other team members led a discussion about the work of South Dakota’s Voices for Soil Health, a group of producers who spread the word about soil health systems to peers across the state. The South Dakota Voices for Soil Health are part of the NRCS Earth Team volunteer network.  

Also participating were SD NRCS State Resource Conservationist Karl Anderson, State Soil Scientist Nathan Jones, NRCS Soil Health Specialists Jeff Hemenway and Brandon Dafoe, and Bill Smith, Director of the State Department of Agriculture Division of Resource Conservation and Forestry. 

Berry, Ehlers, Anderson and Smith also visited the Davison Conservation District in Mitchell, where District Manager Jim Lehi and District Conservationist Heidi Rients provided insights on efforts to address water quality issues in the county. 

Joint Chiefs Projects Announced

USDA, Under Secretary Robert Bonnie, unveiled 11 new Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership projects totaling $7 million for 2016 and committed additional investments totaling nearly $33 million in 28 projects launched in 2014 and 2015. Local partners plan to invest up to an additional $11 million in financial, technical and in-kind assistance for the 11 new projects. The announcement was made at the annual meeting of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts. Conservation districts were listed among the project partners in seven of this year’s 11 projects. Bonnie said, “By taking an all-lands, all-hands approach, Forest Service, NRCS, and countless partners are demonstrating that smart, proactive investments to restore forests yield extraordinary benefits for landowners, communities and taxpayers.” Read more about the announcement and projects here.

NACD April U&C Webinar

Green infrastructure is now the commonly used term for the interconnected natural systems and ecological processes that provide clean water and air and wildlife habitat. “Green Infrastructure Practices” is the topic of the next monthly NACD Urban and Community Conservation Webinar, scheduled for April 21 from 12PM to 1PM EDT.  

The Snohomish Conservation District in Washington will share their district’s work with both private homeowners and public entities to design green infrastructure features including rain gardens and stormwater pond retrofits, as well as share studies they conducted with local cities to determine feasibility for GSI within their jurisdiction. Chuck Nahn of Nahn and Associates, LLC in Middleton, Wisconsin will showcase his company’s porous asphalt work and describe case studies of past installations and lessons learned.  

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 with your name, title, district or business name, state and email address. Information to access the webinar will be sent by email.

Montana U.S. District Court Reverses FWS Decision on Wolverines

On Monday, the U.S. District Court for Montana overturned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) decision to withdraw a proposed rule that would have listed the North American wolverine under the Endangered Species Act. The Court found that the FWS unlawfully ignored the best available science by dismissing the threat to the wolverine posed by climate change, genetic isolation and small population size. In the end, the Court determined that the FWS cannot demand a greater level of scientific certainty than has been achieved in the field to date and that the “best scientific data available” standard does not authorize the FWS to act only when the agency can justify its decision with absolute confidence.

NACD Soil Health Champion of the Month: David Brandt, Ohio

As one of the NACD Soil Health Champions, David Brandt and his wife Kendra have farmed almost 1,000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat with no-till practices and cover crops since 1971. Outside of managing his farm, David also looks to utilize his acreage to assist in helping others understand farming and good conservation practices. The Brandts provide training for the Fairfield Soil and Water Conservation District and NRCS employees, as well as host conservation field days and on-farm research in cooperation with The Ohio State University’s Piketon Research Facility. 

David Brandt recently received the honor of 2016 Ohio Master Farmer. As a Master Farmer, Brandt has exemplified outstanding farm management, innovation, conservation, and leadership – demonstrating how to farm more effectively, efficiently, environmentally, and economically. It is important to note that this award is not just for the work done in a single year, but over a lifetime. 

Brandt has also been a part of the production of a series of YouTube videos focused on soil health and cover crops. One video was produced by North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (NCSARE) and can be viewed by clicking here.

Be sure to check out David Brandt’s profile on the NACD Soil Health Champion’s webpages along with many other members in our network. If you or someone you know is a leader in soil health and would like to become a member of this growing, progressive network please contact Beth Mason at NACD,, or 317-946-4463 for more information.

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