The Colorado Association of Conservation Districts’ 2016 Annual Meeting was held November 14th through 16th, at the Embassy Suites in Loveland. CACD’s theme this year was “Conservation in Colorado – Navigating Our Future”. Meeting speakers this year included: Les Owen, the new CO Department of Ag’s Conservation Services Director; Lee McDaniel, the President of the National Association of Conservation Districts; Jeff Burwell, NACD’s Western Issues Specialist; Clint Evans, CO’s State Conservationist with NRCS; Cindy Lair, Program Manager for the CO State Conservation Board; and Brett Moore, CACD’s Lobbyist.
CO Ag Council at the Capitol – CACD, as a member of the Colorado Ag Council, meets on a quarterly basis, with the other member Ag related organizations. This is our opportunity to collaborate and discuss relevant issues regarding conservation, natural resources, farming and ranching. As a member of Ag Council, CACD has a larger voice on current legislative issues that affect our Districts and their cooperators around the state. The next meeting has been scheduled for June 29th, in conjunction with the next meeting of the CO Ag Water Alliance. CAWA reviews and addresses CO’s current water issues and legislation and provides input to the CO Water Conservation Board.
Local Work Group Meetings – By now, most of our Districts have either had or have scheduled your Local Work Group meetings, in order to affirm the local on-the-ground conservation needs and priorities in your District/Watershed area. CACD encourages your District to advertise and market these important input sessions, with meeting facilitation assisted by the CSCB Conservation Specialist for your area.
2016 Camp Rocky – Camp Rocky is in its 53nd year and registration has already started for camp this summer! CR will be held this year during the week of July 10 - 16, just outside of Divide, CO. This CACD sponsored co-ed event is for 14 – 18 year olds, who are interested in learning about natural resource conservation. There are 4 conservation based disciplines—soil and water, forestry, range management, and wildlife. Camp Rocky is one of the most supported of CACD’s programs by the Conservation Districts statewide. Many Districts help to sponsor our future conservation leaders for the entire week at this educational summer camp. Please check out the latest Camp Rocky news on CACD’s website, along with all of the 2016 forms, at: www.coloradoacd.org , under the “Education and Events” tab.
CACD Long Range Planning – The CACD Board of Directors is working on some long range planning goals for your state association. A LRP Committee has been formed and has been meeting monthly, via teleconference, and will report to the full CACD Board of Directors in August, at their face-to-face meeting.
District Funding for 2016 – Last year, CACD was able to secure an increase to the Conservation Districts’ 2015 Direct Assistance funding in the amount of $92,053.00. This came about from a CACD membership driven request and we continue to work at making sure that this increase remains in place for the 2016 fiscal year.
2016 CO Envirothon – CO Envirothon is our statewide natural resource competition for high school students, and is open to all CO high schools, 4-H Programs, and FFA Groups. The 2016 event is being held on April 26 and 27th, at the Douglas County Events Center in Castle Rock, CO. This year, CACD has partnered with the Rio Grande Watershed Education Initiative to put the contest on next month. As of this writing, we have 17 teams that have sent in a verbal commitment to participate, from all parts of the state! As a District/Watershed, please contact your local high schools, FFA and 4-H Chapters to get them involved in this fun annual event. For the team requirements and the 2016 forms, please check out the COE website at: www.coloenvirothon.com
CACD and NRCS – We continue to work on our partnership with NRCS, which includes quarterly meetings between CACD, CSCB, and NRCS at the area level. I attend NRCS’s Leadership Team meetings and the NRCS State Technical meetings on a quarterly basis.
This past November, CACD held its 71st Annual Meeting at the Park Hyatt Resort in Beaver Creek, CO. The event this year started off on Monday evening with a fantastic membership reception sponsored by Bob Warner, Warner Ranch, that included a variety of heavy appetizers and two complimentary drinks for its attendees.
Our meeting theme this year was: “Conservation through Partnerships – Strategies for Success”. That concept was started off on Tuesday morning, despite the wintry weather, with a special keynote address to the CACD General Assembly from Don Brown, CO’s new Commissioner of Agriculture. The other speakers that morning included: Gary Moyer, CACD’s current President; Clint Evans, CO’s State Conservationist; Brent VanDyke, NACD’s First Vice President; and Brett Moore, CACD Lobbyist. Tuesday’s networking luncheon included an introduction to and a brief address by Jeff Burwell, who is the new NACD Western Issues Specialist.
Tuesday afternoon was filled by the Resource Committee meetings and the 2015 Resolution hearings. This year, there were a total of twenty-one By-Law or Policy resolutions that were reviewed, with twelve passing out of Committee and then sent on to be voted on by CACD’s General Membership.
Another busy month, as we wrap up the Fall 2015 Watershed meetings around the state! This is one my favorite parts of my job as your Executive Director—travelling to these typically bi-annual Watershed meetings. These fall meetings are especially important because it is usually when each Watershed votes on their Conservationists of the Year, in the categories of Farmer, Rancher, and Small Acreage, and also when the formal Resolution process begins. New resolutions are brought to the Watershed level, coming up from a Conservation District, to be voted on by the Watershed membership. Resolutions that are passed by the Watershed are then moved on to one of the five CACD Resource Committees, to be review before being sent on to the general membership, for voting during the annual business meeting in November.
CACD’s 2015 Annual Meeting is only six weeks away! As most of you know, we hold a statewide meeting in November of each year as an educational and networking event for our Conservation Districts, their landowners, and our partners in natural resource conservation. Our 2015 theme is “Partnerships through Partnerships – Strategies for Success”, and the conference will be held over on the western slope this year, at the beautiful Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort.
CO Ag Council/CO Ag Water Alliance – CACD was present at the summer meeting of the Colorado Ag Council held on the morning of June 30th at the CO Department of Ag building in Broomfield. Immediately following, the CO Ag Water Alliance (CAWA) met for their summer meeting also. These two entities have a unique and close relationship and present a strong united front in the agricultural and water sectors for our state. I really enjoy attending these meetings and feel that CACD benefits in this relationship with the other strong Ag partners within Colorado.
Additional District Funding for 2015 – Direct Assistance funding for 2015 will increase in the amount of $92,053.00. On July 1st and 2nd, the Colorado State Conservation Board (CSCB) met to decide how to distribute those funds and most Districts will potentially see a bump in their DA allocation for 2015, depending upon performance. This increase to Conservation District funding was a 2014 CACD membership driven request, and is an example of what CACD’s annual membership dues dollars are used for legislatively.
2015 Camp Rocky – Camp Rocky was held on July 5th through 11th and was another great week for high school students interested in natural resource conservation! Although the camp week was a bit wet due to rain--a good time was had by all!! CACD, along with collaboration and funding help from some of its Districts and our great conservation partners, brings this educational youth camp together each year for high school students, ages 14 – 18 years. Our camp offers four natural resource conservation based disciplines: Soil and Water Conservation, Forest Management, Rangeland Science, and Fish and Wildlife Management. A big THANK YOU to all of the Conservation Districts who helped support our 2015 Camp Rocky program this year! Also, we could not put this youth camp program on without the help of NRCS and the CO Department of Agriculture volunteer instructors. Next years’ camp is scheduled for July 10th through the 16th, 2016.
Additional District Funding for 2015 – It’s official! CACD was successful at lobbying for an increase to the Conservation Districts’ Direct Assistance funding for 2015, in the amount of $92,053.00. These additional dollars could potentially increase each Districts DA annual allocations up to $1200. On July 1st and 2nd, the Colorado State Conservation Board (CSCB) will meet to decide how to distribute those funds. Most likely, most Districts will see a bump in their DA allocation for 2015, depending upon performance. This increase to Conservation District funding was a 2014 CACD membership driven request, and is an example of what CACD’s annual dues membership dollars are used for. The 2015 Legislative Session came to a close on May 6.
2015 CO Envirothon – The 2015 CO Envirothon competition took place May 14 and 15, in Alamosa, and was a huge success. CO Envirothon is CACD’s statewide natural resource competition for high school students, 4-H and FFA groups. Sargent High School’s five member team took home the first place honors and trophy, and will travel to Springfield, Missouri at the end of July to compete in the national NCF Envirothon contest. The second and third place teams were from Castle View High School in Douglas County. A big thank you to the Districts and Watersheds that contributed funds to help assure the success of CACD’s 2015 CO Envirothon program—particularly the Center and Rio Grande CDs. For more information about this year’s event and CO Envirothon 2016, please visit the COE website at: www.coloenvirothon.com .
Summer 2015 Watershed Meetings – Several of the Watersheds that hold a summer meeting have already met. I attended the Rio Grande Watershed meeting on May 26th, and will travel to the Upper South Platte Watershed on June 16, in Louisville, CO. These Watershed meetings are important to be attended by at least one or two members of each District within the watershed boundaries, so that the District has the chance to share their particular concerns with the entire Watershed representation. Please work at making your Watershed meeting an important part of your District business.
CO Ag Council – April 29th marked the last meeting of the CO Ag Council during the 2015 Legislative session. CACD is a member of the CO Ag Council, which meets every other week during the months of January through April. The Council is made up of entirely agriculturally focused groups that meet to discuss any/all Ag and natural resource conservation concerns at the state level. As a group, we have a strong presence and a unified voice on any of these types of issues statewide.
Additional District Funding for 2015 – CACD is waiting to hear on the progress on CACD’s recommended increase to the Conservation Districts’ 2015 Direct Assistance funding in the amount of $92,053.00. In March, the motion was passed by the JBC by a 6-0 vote. The funds are now in the long-bill, which is still being looked at and is largely influenced by the 2016 budget. Remember, this was a 2014 CACD membership driven request. We are cautiously hopeful!
2015 CO Envirothon – The CO Envirothon’s 2015 Steering and Program Committees are getting ready for the May 14 -15 competition to be held at Cole Park in Alamosa. We are very excited to have eighteen teams registered as of the April 15th deadline. CO Envirothon is CACD’s statewide natural resource competition for high school students, 4-H and FFA groups. You can check out the COE website at: www.coloenvirothon.com for additional information about the contest. The winning team from Colorado will move on to the national Envirothon event, to be held this year in Springfield, Missouri on July 27 – August 2, 2015.
Additional District Funding for 2015 – CACD’s lobbyist, Brett Moore, continues to monitor the Joint Budget Committee and the progress on CACD’s recommended increase to the Conservation Districts’ 2015 Direct Assistance funding in the amount of $92,053.00. Last month, the motion was passed by the JBC by a 6-0 vote. The funds are now in the long-bill, which is still being put together and will be largely influenced by the 2016 budget. Remember, this was a 2014 CACD membership driven request.
CO Ag Day at the Capitol – On March 18th, the Colorado Ag Council, of which CACD is a member, held its “Ag Day at the Capitol” event. Due to illness, CACD’s Executive Director, Sharon Pattee was unable to attend, however CACD’s lobbyist Brett Moore and CACD’s NACD Alternate Bob Warner attended this annual salute to agriculture gathering by dozens of CO’s agriculture related entities. The highlight is a “cook-off” between several of Colorado’s top chefs, preparing meats and vegetables produced statewide, and then served to those in attendance. The 2015 “Ag Day at the Capitol” proved again to be a fabulous success--promoting the importance of agriculture in Colorado.
NACD Washington DC Spring Fly-in – Gary Moyer, CACD’s Board President, attended this annual event at our nation’s Capital in Washington DC. More than 100 Soil and Water Conservation District state Association representatives, supervisors, and employees participate in this important legislative gathering to meet with Senate and House Representative members of the U.S. Congress in order to express their particular state’s natural resource conservation issues and concerns. Gary met with a number of Colorado’s legislators and/or their staff members, including U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, along with U.S. House Representatives Scott Tipton and Ken Buck.
2015 CO Envirothon – The CO Envirothon’s Steering and Program Committees met in Colorado Springs for a face-to-face meeting on March 20th, in order to finalize the curriculum details for this year’s event. CO Envirothon is CACD’s statewide natural resource competition for high school students, 4-H and FFA groups. The 2015 contest is being held on May 14 – 15, at Cole Park in Alamosa. There is no entry fee this year and the deadline to enter your school or club team is April 15th! Check out the COE website that is being constantly updated at: www.coloenvirothon.com.
CACD’s lobbyist, Brett Moore, is busy tracking any potential 2015 Legislation that would have an effect on any natural resource or agriculturally related issue at the Capitol, on a daily basis. Keeping an eye on what is happening within the walls of the Senate and House is a full time job this time of the year. Also, CACD is in attendance at the bi-monthly Ag Council meeting on every other Wednesday morning, along with the many other Ag related entities around the state. Brett’s Bill Tracking Sheet is posted to the CACD website on a monthly basis.
Gary Moyer, CACD’s President, Cindy Lair, Program Manager for the Colorado State Conservation Board (CSCB) and I met with our newly assigned Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist, Clint Evans, at his office in the Federal Center, in Denver. Some of the conversation included ideas about:
CACD Executive Director