Community Ag: Conservation districts — a local voice in agriculture, conservation | SteamboatToday.com

Community Ag: Conservation districts — a local voice in agriculture, conservation

Christine Shook/For Steamboat Today

Community Ag Alliance

Dark skies and eroded landscapes during the Dust Bowl Era were ominous signs there was a need to conserve our soil and water resources in rural America. Congress passed the Soil Conservation Act of 1935 and requested that all states permit legislation authorizing the establishment of local soil and water conservation districts.

Conservation districts have specific geographic boundaries, are governed by a board of locally elected individuals who reside within those boundaries and operate with the focus that conservation efforts and solutions to natural resource concerns should be led by local citizens. They are the important entity built to bridge the gap between government and local landowners, and as quasi-governmental units, can operate on a level of autonomy that authorizes a profound impact on productivity and performance.

Colorado is home to 76 conservation districts, each focusing attention on its own unique projects and priorities. Activity levels shift based on funding sources, community involvement and geographic or political resource concerns applicable to the area they serve.

The Routt County Conservation District, or RCCD, continues to fulfill its mission of encouraging the stewardship of our natural resources through education and implementation of conservation management practices. In recent years, the RCCD's efforts have included, but are not limited to, a soil health project experimenting with cover crop rotations using no-till technology in high elevation cropping systems, a video campaign publishing a series of short recordings exploring water and agriculture on the Western Slope, selling custom seed mixes and tree seedlings for restoration and habitat planting efforts on private lands and renting the Riparian Trailer as an educational tool for local schools or partners.

Details on these projects and accomplishments, as well as access to video shorts, can be found on the RCCD's website: routtcountycd.com . Other duties include attendance at monthly district board meetings, development and implementation of an annual plan of work and hosting an annual local work group meeting in conjunction with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The RCCD currently has three active board members and is looking to expand. RCCD is seeking two candidates to serve as board supervisors, as well as a part-time district manager to cover day-to-day operations.

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If you exhibit strong leadership skills, professionalism and hold interest in the conservation and stewardship on private and public lands, your attendance at a monthly district board meeting is welcomed and encouraged. Conservation districts are unique, multifaceted entities here to represent you, the individual landowner.

Contact RCCD Board President Ruddy Cammelletti, Treasurer Selina Heintz or Secretary Chris Frentress at board@routtcountycd.com for details.

Christine Shook is a USDA-NRCS district conservationist and a partner of RCCD.