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California Resource Conservation Districts Lend a Helping Hand

By Kiko Barr

The California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD) has awarded COVID-19 Recovery Community Service grants to eight resource conservation districts (RCDs). The RCDs will receive mini-grants of $5,000 each to create positive impact and to support their communities as they deal with the consequences of COVID-19. Programs that will be funded by the grants include food pantry and community garden support, outdoors-related youth programs, water quality monitoring in farmworker communities and farm worker safety. While small, the grants will have real impact, helping those most in need in California communities to weather the impacts of COVID-19.

Grantee RCDs include the Marin RCD, San Mateo RCD, RCD of Greater San Diego County, Placer County RCD, Napa County RCD, RCD of the Santa Monica Mountains, Trinity County RCD and RCD of Tehama County. Read more about their projects below:

  • Marin RCD: Small grants will help five to ten small farms develop COVID-19 response plans and implement protective measures to ensure employee sanitation needs are met, such as the availability of face masks, sanitizers for hand and contact surfaces, hand wash stations, gloves and digital thermometers.
  • San Mateo RCD: The RCD will perform testing to address concerns about drinking water quality in the underserved community on the South Coast of San Mateo. The RCD plans to work closely with the community to perform testing and outreach, partnering with Puente de la Costa Sur, the only community resource center for the South Coast, and hiring a member of the same community to do the testing.
  • RCD of Greater San Diego County: Funding will go to help community garden members suffering economic hardships due to COVID keep their garden plots by offering rent reduction to garden members. In addition, the RCD will donate CSA-style produce bags to local families in need.
  • Placer County RCD: The RCD will purchase vegetable seedlings from local farms and nurseries and offer the plants for free to those in the community experiencing food insecurity. While some have the space and ability to plant fruits and vegetables at their homes, Placer will also offer space on their property for a community garden for those who need it.
  • Napa County RCD: In partnership with Community Action of Napa Valley, the RCD will help address unprecedented food security issues that many families are facing due to COVID-19. They will purchase desperately needed food for the community and further assist Community Action of Napa Valley by donating (as cost share) paid staff time to support the Food Bank with meal packing and distribution during the grant period.
  • RCD of the Santa Monica Mountains: Students in California are expected to miss out on vital hours of science and environmental education in informal and/or outdoor settings because of COVID-19, with students in low income areas being disproportionately affected. To address this, RCDSMM will create a nature journaling program, an interactive way for young people to connect and reflect on the natural spaces around them. They will be working with schools with a high population of low income students.
  • Trinity County RCD: The RCD normally supports the Weaverville Summer Day Camp, which has been cancelled for 2020 due to COVID-19. TCRCD will partner with multiple agencies to provide alternative environmental education opportunities for children and families through the Trinity Tracks Guidebook (an educational and exploration guide for families in Trinity County), and virtual environmental education lessons including take-home kits.
  • RCD of Tehama County: The RCD will support home-based student learning and outdoor engagement with the natural world. The “RCDTC and Me” program will offer six activity kits during the grant term that are scheduled for pick-up in the county’s two main cities, Red Bluff and Corning. Each kit will contain a nature-based, hands-on activity that promotes outdoor exploration at their leisure.

“RCDs are an essential part of our communities and are dedicated to serving them in times of stress,” said Karen Buhr, executive director of CARCD.  “We were thrilled with the response we got when we requested proposals from RCDs for the Community Service mini-grants. Each proposal we received demonstrated their commitment to serve their communities, as well as their creative and determined approach to problem solving – the same characteristics that enable RCDs to get so much done with limited resources.”

The RCDs’ projects are already underway and will be completed by the end of October 2020. In addition to these projects, RCDs are continuing to serve their communities throughout the crisis by helping them prepare for wildfire, providing technical assistance to farmers and ranchers, restoring habitat for endangered species, and providing other essential services. Learn more about what RCDs are doing at carcd.org.

Kiko Barr is the Outreach Coordinator for CARCD and can be contacted at kiko-barr[at]carcd.org.

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