The Bureau of Land Management is renewing a partnership with a nonprofit that works with farmers on land and water stewardship measures, advancing the Obama administration’s commitment to working with private landowners to achieve conservation goals.
BLM late yesterday announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) pledging to work together on a range of public lands issues, including forestland and rangeland management needs to address invasive plant species and increased wildfire risks, as well as issues dealing with wild horses and burros.
The national association represents some 3,000 conservation districts nationwide and their state associations. Since it was founded in 1946, the association has worked with private landowners and private land managers to apply conservation practices endorsed by BLM and other federal agencies on their lands. The association also works with local communities and landowners to coordinate funding and assistance from state and federal governments for conservation.
BLM and the national association share common goals “in managing, developing, and protecting federal and private land and water resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner,” according to the four-page MOU. The partnership is necessary in Western states where federal and private lands often intertwine, requiring public and private landowners to work together to make conservation programs effective.
“The BLM values this relationship. The cooperative spirit and goodwill of the more than 3,000 districts across the nation have allowed us to make great strides,” Jamie Connell, BLM’s acting deputy director, said yesterday in a statement. “By renewing this MOU, we acknowledge there is still much left to do, and we recognize we can accomplish so much more together than we could individually.”
The MOU, signed by Connell and Earl Garber, NACD’s president, renews an agreement originally signed between the two parties in 2001, said Beverly Winston, a spokeswoman for the national association.
The renewed partnership comes at a time when budget cuts have affected the ability of BLM and the Agriculture Department, in particular, to put farmland conservation measures and other programs in place (Greenwire, April 29).
NACD helps to lobby for the farm bill’s conservation programs, which among other things pays farmers to idle cropland for conservation, promotes conservation on working lands and provides funding for environmental improvements on farmland.
“We are very pleased to be renewing our MOU with the Bureau of Land Management,” Garber said yesterday in a statement. “Over the previous years, our close working partnership with BLM has helped open many doors to address important natural resources management issues. The MOU will allow the diverse conservation work underway to continue forward.”
The Washington, D.C.-based national association has actively worked with farmers to help them put into place conservation measures on their lands. The NACD has worked closely with the Obama administration on such measures.
Indeed, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said before leaving his post last spring that he was proudest of his work with private landowners who agree to participate in programs that permanently protect their lands from development through the use of measures like conservation easements (Greenwire, April 5).
The MOU continues a long-standing relationship between the NACD and the Interior and Agriculture departments.
President Obama recently nominated USDA chief of staff Krysta Harden, NACD’s former CEO, to become the agency’s deputy secretary (E&E Daily, June 28).
And in May it was announced that Dave White, who retired last year as USDA’s natural resources chief, would work as a strategic consultant for NACD (Greenwire, May 3).