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eNotes: Weekly News Briefs from the National Association of Conservation Districts

July 6, 2011

It’s Not Too Late! Register for the 2011 NACD Legislative Conference Today!

If you have not yet registered for NACD’s 2011 Summer Legislative Conference, now’s your chance! This year, participants will receive an update on conservation and land issues from U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Marcilynn Burke, Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Bob Perciasepe and other agency heads. The conference will also feature expert panels on TMDL and the Chesapeake Bay.

Take advantage of this opportunity to meet with your members of Congress to discuss conservation policy and the work of districts at the local level. The conference is a great time to interact with Capitol Hill staff and learn about the latest 2012 Farm Bill developments. Your voice on Capitol Hill can be powerful; do not miss the chance to make your message heard!

On Wednesday, July 20, NACD will be offering a special workshop titled “Kicking Your Conservation Message into High Gear.” The workshop will consist of two sessions: “Social Media Boot Camp” and an “In-District Advocacy Activity.” The sessions will focus on developing powerful messages and communications tools to effectively share the message of conservation with your local community and policymakers.

To register for the 2011 Legislative Conference and the “Kicking Your Conservation Message into High Gear” workshop, click here.

Numeric Nutrient Criteria Letter

On June 23, NACD, with a diverse group of 50 state, local and agriculture associations, sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging them not to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to reducing nutrient pollution.

The letter states that “Rather than giving states room to innovate and respond to local water quality needs, the Agency appears to reinforce a more inflexible and counterproductive EPA position…that states must adopt numeric nutrient criteria (NNC), in all water bodies, for both nitrogen and phosphorus.”

The groups acknowledge that nitrogen and phosphorus pollution is a serious water quality concern, and point to state efforts to develop meaningful approaches to control nutrients.

The letter states that “EPA’s insistence that states must ultimately develop independently applicable NNC for all water bodies, even in the absence of a cause and effect relationship between the nutrient level and achievement of designated uses, is not scientifically defensible and is undermining innovative state approaches to reducing nutrient pollution.”

The letter encourages EPA to “take meaningful public steps to support innovative approaches for reducing nutrient loadings and, where a state believes NNC areappropriate, innovative approaches for developing scientifically defensible NNC.”

House Will Examine Farm Bill Conservation Programs and Hold Appropriations Markup

On Thursday, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry will hold a hearing titled, “Agricultural Program Audit: Examination of conservation programs.” The hearing will focus on Farm Bill preparation, as well as education for freshmen lawmakers on the Agriculture Committee. The subcommittee will highlight the state of current conservation programs and examine whether the funding for these programs is fitting the needs of landowners. NRCS Chief Dave White and Bruce Nelson, FSA, will testify. The hearing, previously scheduled for Wednesday, June 22, is part of an attempt to increase oversight of agricultural programs.

The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. To view the hearing live, via webcast, visit the committee website.

Also on Thursday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing to mark up draft legislation for fiscal year (FY) 2012 appropriations. The hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m., but will not be available on webcast.

For more information, click here.

Senate Agriculture Committee Holds Livestock Hearing

Last week, NRCS Chief Dave White testified before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee during the “State of Livestock in America” hearing. In his testimony, Chief White focused on three areas that assist livestock producers: Farm Bill conservation programs, innovative technology and risk reduction.

Chief White made it clear that NRCS will work to keep farmers and ranchers on the land by creating programs to ensure that producers may continue to do their jobs. Through conservation programs like Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA), farmers and ranchers are able to increase efficiency through new technologies and avoid regulation by implementing best management practices.

Though conservation was the focus of the hearing, programs like CSP, EQIP and the Conservation Reserve Program received praise from a number of witnesses. Both Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) also voiced support for EQIP and vowed to look for ways to support the program in the 2012 Farm Bill.

USDA Provides More Funding for Sage Grouse

On June 30, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an additional $18.2 million in funding through the Farm Bill’s Grassland Reserve Program (GRP). The money will allow farmers and ranchers to maintain and preserve Sage Grouse grazing lands.

USDA will focus on three specific Western states: Idaho ($5.5 million), Utah ($2.3 million) and Wyoming ($10.4 million.) The GRP will formally become a conservation program used for the USDA’s Sage Grouse Initiative launched in 2010.

Earlier this fiscal year, USDA provided $53 million to 11 Western states via Farm Bill conservation programs.

For information about NRCS conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs.

Schmidt Family Foundation Offers Funding Opportunity

The Schmidt Family Foundation is offering funding opportunities to organizations that “help transform the world’s environmental and energy practices in the 21st century.” Grants are awarded in the areas of environment, education and sustainable development within the range of $2,000 to $4.8 million.

To be considered, applicants must first submit a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) to the foundation. Once the LOI has been reviewed, the foundation will send notification if a formal online application is requested. The Schmidt Family Foundation will only review applications submitted online.

Visit The Schmidt Family Foundation’s website at www.theschmidtfamilyfoundation.org for more information.

Join CTIC for Annual “Great Farms, Great Lake” Conservation Tour

The Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC http://www.ctic.org) will host its annual “Conservation In Action Tour,” August 8-9 in Northwest Ohio. The tour is a great opportunity to interact with Lake Erie basin farmers and learn how agricultural conservation systems and technologies can benefit the Great Lakes.

For years, conservationists have focused on the Maumee River basin as the source of excess dissolved phosphorus and nitrogen, which is detrimental to Lake Erie. The Tour will highlight ways producers are implementing innovative conservation practices and solutions to water quality issues.

For more information and to register, visit: www.ctic.org/CIATours. Register by July 8 and save $25. The Conservation in Action Tour is sponsored in part by Mosaic, John Deere, Syngenta and Agrium.

Enjoy reading eNotes? Sign up your board today at http://nacdnet.org/news/publications/enotes/ or forward this link to a friend and encourage them to sign up too. Take advantage of helpful conservation news and resources arriving in your inbox every Tuesday at no charge.

In this Issue

It’s Not Too Late! Register for the 2011 NACD Legislative Conference Today! (read more...)

Numeric Nutrient Criteria Letter (read more...)

House Will Examine Farm Bill Conservation Programs and Hold Appropriations Markup (read more...)

Senate Agriculture Committee Holds Livestock Hearing (read more...)

USDA Provides More Funding for Sage Grouse(read more...)

Schmidt Family Foundation Offers Funding Opportunity(read more...)

Join CTIC for Annual “Great Farms, Great Lake” Conservation Tour (read more...)

Scroll down for additional
news briefs:

Forestry Notes Online

Rangelands Survey Deadline Extended

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Forestry Notes Online

The July issue of Forestry Notes is now available online.

Rangelands Survey Deadline Extended

NACD is still seeking conservation districts' responses to the Rangelands and Pasturelands Survey.

Survey results will be used to highlight districts' work in rangelands and pasturelands, as well as to identify project and partnership opportunities with the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

The deadline has been extended to Tuesday, July 12.

Click here to access the survey.

For additional questions or information, contact Yenie Tran at yenie-tran@nacdnet.org or 202-547-6223.

NACD Events Calendar

For additional details regarding the meetings listed below, click here.

  • July 16-17, NACD Summer Board Meeting, Washington, D.C.
  • July 18-19, NACD Summer Legislative Conference, Washington, D.C.
  • July 31-August 2, Southeast Region Meeting, Orange Beach, Alabama
  • August 7-9, South Central Region Meeting, Oklahoma City, OK
  • August 7-10, Northeast Region Meeting, Plymouth, MA
  • September 26-29, Southwest-Pacific Region Meeting, Taos, NM

NACD | 509 Capitol Court, NE | Washington, D.C. 20002 | (202) 547-6223 | www.nacdnet.org

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