NACD Submits Comments on BLM’s Proposed Planning Rule

On Monday, May 23, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) submitted comments to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) raising concerns regarding BLM’s Resource Management Planning proposed rule, commonly known as “Planning 2.0”. The proposed rule seeks to modify existing regulations relating to land use planning and opportunities for public engagement in the BLM’s planning process.  

NACD encourages districts with BLM land within their jurisdictions or other districts and State Associations interested, to provide comments to the BLM on the Planning 2.0 rule. For your convenience, a letter template (editable PDF) is available on our website here and a Word document was emailed to all of NACD’s state contacts, and Board Members yesterday afternoon. Feel free to use the information in the letter template as you deem fit.  

NACD is concerned that BLM’s proposed Planning 2.0 rule:

  • Changes in responsibilities and protest procedures
  •  Proposes changes that will reduce requirements to ensure federal consistency with local policies 
  •  Use of multistate landscape level of analysis that could diminish BLM’s ability to assess the local impacts of management decisions and limit local involvement

In order to ensure your voice is heard, the BLM must receive your comments no later than 11:59 PM (EDT) on May 25, 2016. The cover page of the letter provides a detailed set of instructions on how to submit your comments to the BLM. 

NACD Attends White House Roundtable on Wildfire in the Wildland-Urban Interface

On May 18, the White House hosted a roundtable on wildfire in the wildland-urban interface (WUI). NACD’s Natural Resources Policy Specialist, Chris Heck, represented NACD at the roundtable. The roundtable included a keynote address from Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, a presentation from Ray Rasker, Headwaters Economics on the Dimensions of the WUI Challenge. The roundtable consisted of 2 panels and a next steps group discussion. The first panel entitled Community Engagement and Risk Management in the WUI, was moderated by Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Robert Bonnie. Panelists included the Mayor of Ashland, Oregon, representatives of the Intertribal Timber Council, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Nature Conservancy. The second panel entitled Addressing the Increased Complexity of Fire Response in the WUI, was moderated by U.S. Forest Service State and Private Forestry Deputy Chief, James Hubbard. Panelists included representatives from USFS, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), and the Santa Fe Fire Department. 

With the ever increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires, the issues of fire management, prevention, suppression, and public safety becomes all the more important. NACD continues to work to promote policy that will protect the environment, firefighters, and the public.  

NACD Conservation Tour to Highlight Diverse Minnesota Landscape

What do sustainability, pollinator habitat, stream buffers, plant breeding, native landscapes and a Great Blue Heron have in common? They all will be featured in NACD’s upcoming Conservation Leadership Forum and Tour being held July 15-19 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  

Stops on the tour’s planned itinerary will include visits to the Regal Creek Stabilization Project, the Plant Materials Evaluation Site in Becker, Minn., the Sherburne History Center, Mill Creek Dairy, the Great Blue Heron Supper Club and the Forever Green Initiative of the University of Minnesota. The tour will feature speakers at each stop who will provide insights into innovative conservation planning and implementation. 

An all-star lineup of speakers, forum topics, sessions and more are in the works to explore the “The Next Generation of Conservation Planning” at the Conservation Leadership Forum and Tour. An updated agenda is available here and online registration is now open and can be accessed on the summer meeting page of our website.  

Don’t forget, early bird registration is open until June 16. We hope to see you in Minnesota! 

NACD Visits with VASWCD Area II Districts

NACD CEO Jeremy Peters met with conservation district leaders attending the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ Area II meeting on Tuesday, May 17 to provide an update on new and emerging opportunities for districts. The meeting was held at Frying Pan Park in Fairfax County, Virginia. In addition to briefing leaders on various aspects of NACD’s work, Peters specifically highlighted NACD’s recent focus on increasing conservation technical assistance capacity of conservation districts through initiatives such as the National Conservation Planning Partnership, Conservation Bootcamp, and the recently announced Urban Agriculture Conservation initiative

Senate Committee Approves Agriculture Appropriations Bill

The Senate Committee on Appropriations approved the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill for the 2017 fiscal year on May 19. The bill funds discretionary programs for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other agriculture agencies. It also gives lawmakers the chance to change spending levels mandated by the 2014 Farm Bill.  
In the bill, $864.474 million is appropriated for Conservation Operations, which includes Conservation Technical Assistance. This exceeds both the president’s budget and the NACD request. The bill also sets a $1.347 billion cap for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), but sets no cap for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). It provides $150 million for the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program, but does not provide funds for Small Watershed Rehabilitation. 

The House Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill in April. Click here for a press release from the committee. 

Conservation Planning Survey for District Officials

NACD, as part of the National Conservation Planning Partnership (NCPP), is working with NRCS, NASCA, NARC&DC and NCDEA, to seek feedback on how we can improve the delivery of conservation planning assistance to farmers and ranchers.  
As a part of NACD’s role in the process, NACD is conducting a survey for conservation district officials about Conservation Planning. This survey was sent to a random sample of 500 conservation districts so if your district received this survey please have each of your district officials complete the survey individually. 

An earlier survey was distributed for conservation district and NRCS employees on the same subject.Should you have any questions please feel free to contact Rich Duesterhaus at  

South Carolina’s Enivirothon Team Now on Their Way to Canada

The 20th annual South Carolina Envirothon competition was held at the Sandhill Research and Education Center in northeast Columbia. Spartanburg High’s Team A will join the other state winners to represent their state at the North American Envirothon July 24-29 in Ontario, Canada.  

For updates on local Envirothon competitions, including photos and media, click here

Westmoreland Conservation District Receives Grant for Integrated Water Resource Plan

The Richard King Mellon Foundation awarded $350,000 to the Westmoreland Conservation District in southwest Pennsylvania. The grant will help the district develop and a resource plan for managing stormwater runoff and flooding. To develop the plan, the district first met with the local government and the public to identify where there are stormwater runoff and flooding problems in the county. The plan will focus on highly developed watersheds.  

The resource plan will be incorporated with the county’s overall land use plan. It will also be used by anyone with plans to develop in the identified areas, so they can incorporate best management practices in their development plans.  

Click here for a full article on the grant and the resource plan.  

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