Wade Troutman epitomizes selfless dedication to the sustainability of our natural resources. He has quietly left a lasting impact on conservation throughout Washington State. Troutman has served on the Foster Creek Conservation District (CD) board of supervisors since 1982 (37 years, and counting). He has lived in Douglas County all his life and resides in the house in which he grew up. Troutman has carried on the conservation legacy of his father, Tex L. Troutman, who is recognized in the Leaving A Legacy memorial book of the Washington Conservation Society.
Troutman has not confined himself to district service. He has served on the board and as president (2001-03) of the Washington Association of Conservation Districts (WACD); as well as WACD National Director (2010-14). Wade has been actively involved with the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) in several roles: Executive Board Member – Pacific Region (2017-19); Chair, Natural Resources Policy Committee; Chair, District Operations and Member Services Committee; Pacific Region Chair on the NACD Board (2016-18).
Perhaps Troutman’s greatest leadership example is what he has learned and implemented on Open Heart Ranch, his family’s fourth-generation farm (since 1895) on Pearl Hill in Bridgeport, Wash. He farms 6,600 acres of wheat and canola and makes use of conservation practices such as no-till, spot spraying of weeds and other precision farming strategies. In early 2018, Troutman stated, “Everything is local. Every piece of dirt is very local — what’s important is to know your land. No-till has given me an opportunity to understand my ground further.” In the Fall 2016 resource guide published by the National Conservation Planning Partnership, Troutman wrote the following: “Twenty years ago I needed a conservation plan that would help make my land more productive and reduce erosion. Today, my conservation plan helps me provide assurance to both my customers and state environmental regulators that I am farming in ways that meet their quality standards.”
Troutman actively manages his farm to protect habitat for the sharp-tailed grouse. More than 30% of the land he farms is left in its natural condition, allowing cover and food for grouse and their young. No one can describe the mating ritual of the sage grouse quite like Troutman. As a long-serving member of the Foster Creek CD board, he was involved in a process initiated by the CD in 1998, that led to a historic agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in October 2015: the signing of the Douglas County Multi Species General Conservation Plan (a habitat conservation plan for four species), the first conservation district in the country to do so.
Troutman’s farming experience was recognized in 2010 by the WACD, awarding him the Vim Wright Stewardship Farm of the Year. This annual award recognizes an agricultural producer who is exemplary in the use of environmental practices and who achieves absolute sustainability on the land.
In further recognition of Troutman’s farming and environmental stewardship, he was appointed by the governor as a charter member of the Washington Biodiversity Council representing farmers. He has also served two, four-year terms on the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Advisory Council.
Troutman has been and continues to be an inspiration and mentor to innumerable supervisors at the local, state and national levels. In his ever humble, self-deprecating manner, Troutman has been a mentor for supervisors, farmers, and others – encouraging, prodding and cajoling folks to become leaders and/or stay in leadership roles. This quote by Wade aptly defines him: “I want my grandchildren to enjoy the same great biodiversity that my grandfather left me. I am very proud to have helped produce a strategy that recognizes the need for healthy lands containing both wild areas and working farms and ranches.”