Monthly Archives: May 2011

IASCD Lobbies Idaho’s Congressional Delegation to Support the Government Litigation Savings Act

The Idaho Association of Soil Conservation District’s Board of Directors held a conference call on May 16th and voted to support the Government Litigation Savings Act. This bill is authored by Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Senator John Barrasso (R-WY). IASCD sent a letter to our two US Senators and two Congressmen asking they become original co-sponsors of this legislation. Because of this effort, Congressman Mike Simpson (ID-02) and Senator James Risch (R-ID) added their names as original co-sponsors to this legislation.

The bill number in the US House of Representatives is HR 1996 and in the US Senate it is S. 1061

**June 1st, 2011 update:  Congressman Labrador has agreed to become a co-sponsor of this legislation.  Senator Crapo has also added his name as a co-sponsor to the Senate version of the bill.**

If passed, this legislation would require tracking and reporting of the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) and Judgment Fund payments. This bill would bring transparency and accountability to a flawed system that has led to the abuse of taxpayer dollars. Currently, EAJA allows small businesses, individuals and public interest groups to be reimbursed for legal fees they are the prevailing party during litigation against the federal government. These fees come out of the federal agency’s budget.

The Government Litigation Savings Act would prevent organizations whose net worth exceeds $7 million from filing for EAJA payments, require that EAJA filers show a “direct and personal monetary interest” in the action to be eligible for payments and limit the number of annual reimbursements and amount a filer may receive. This bill would also cap total EAJA reimbursements to $200,000 for any single action and allows no more than three EAJA awards in one calendar year. Additionally, this legislation would establish an online database of those that have received payment from EAJA and require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct an audit of payments made over the last 15 years.




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We Have A New Website!

We are very excited to have our new website up and running! Please drop by, take a look around, and send us your feedback. There’s still a number of improvements we want to make, and your input is more than welcome.

Our goal is to have the website be the source of all natural resource content for districts, elected officials, the media, or even a high school student researching a term paper. Keep in mind this is a living, breathing website. Expect to see content updates almost weekly.

Finally, we lost the ‘www’ part of our web address. We’re not sure why, so please bookmark:

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Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act

Prior to adjourning for a district work period, Congressman Mike Simpson (ID-02) added his name as a cosponsor of HR 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act. If passed, the bill would stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its current review from imposing more stringent dust standards for one year. Currently, the bill is waiting to be heard in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The EPA is in the midst of a five-year review of the Clean Air Act’s National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter (PM). One form of regulated matter, coarse PM (dust), becomes airborne when a person drives on unpaved roads or farmers work in their fields, and is composed primarily of soil particles and naturally occurring organic materials.

“The EPA acknowledges that the evidence that rural dust is damaging to human health is inconclusive, yet they continue to regulate it in the same manner as other forms of particulate matter, for which evidence is more definite,” said Simpson. “This is a prime example of the EPA overstepping its authority without justification. Once again, the EPA has failed to recognize the everyday impacts of over-regulating based on inconclusive evidence.”

There is no US Senate version of this bill at this time.

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Rigby High School Envirothon Team Wins State Competition

Yesterday, the Rigby High School Envirothon team won the 2011 Idaho Enviorthon.  In July, the team will travel to Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada to compete in the Canon Envirothon Competition July 24 to 29.   The team is made up of team captain Joseph Hale, Tanner Fonnesbeck, Chase Hines, Luke Bigelow, Preston Caldwell, and their advisor Joh Hogge.  They were sponsored by the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District.

“Our state Envirothon program is a hands-on, natural resources competition for high school students,” Randy Purser, President of the Idaho Association of Soil Conservation Districts said.  “We use our conservation partnerships and bring in environmental scientists and experts to teach young men and women the vital balance of conservation and land usage.  I’m very proud of all the teams that participated, and I expect the Rigby team to do very well at the international competition in July.”

“Our team put dozens of hours into study for this competition, and I credit our team captain Joe Hale for leading the team,” Jon Hogge, Rigby High School’s advisor said.  “Our speech program at Rigby High, as well as the numerous FFA competitions the team has participated in has truly honed our competitive skills.  Our team knows how to win, and we’ll be putting in more study hours and additional preparation over the next few months.  The international competition will be at a high level, and we want to represent Idaho as best as we can.”

Fourteen teams participated in this year’s Envirothon, with each team being made up of five to six students, plus one advisor.  Also, nearly 50 volunteers and instructors donated their time to teach lessons, correct exams, and assist teams.  The top five finishers were: Rigby High School, Mackay High School, Gooding High School, Jerome High School and Challis High School.

Canon Envirothon is a not-for-profit organization established to coordinate the delivery of an environmental education program for high school students throughout North America.  The program consists of the annual Canon Envirothon Competition in which winning teams from participating states and Canadian provinces compete for recognition and scholarships by demonstrating their knowledge of environmental science and natural resource management.  The competition is centered on four universal testing categories: soils/land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, and wildlife) and a current environmental issue.  This year’s issue is Salt and Fresh Water Estuaries.

“We want to thank all of our sponsors, and the soil and water conservation districts throughout Idaho for their continued support and donations,” Purser said.  “The conservation districts in our state have a long history of working with their local schools to encourage participation in the state Envirothon program.  Without them, we would not have a successful Envirothon year after year.”

IASCD wants to thank the following businesses for their financial contribution to this year’s state competition: Agrium, the Bureau of Land Management, CHS, IASCD Auxiliary, Idaho Barley Commission, Idaho District Employees Association, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, Idaho Grain Producers, Idaho Mining Association, Idaho Power Company, Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission, Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission, Monsanto, National Wild Turkey Federation (Idaho Chapter), Natural Resources Conservation Service, JR Simplot, Thompson Creek Mining Company and the United Dairymen of Idaho.

Sponsored by the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District

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Federal Legislative Update: Next Week & Grey Wolf Statements From Congressional Delegation

Next week, the US House of Representatives and US Senate will be in session. The House will have votes starting May 10th and complete their work for the week on May 13th around 3pm. They will then have a district work period for the week of May 15th.  The US Senate convenes on May 9th at 2pm EDT.

While not directly related to natural resource conservation, the House Committee on Agriculture will hold a hearing to review pending free trade agreements. Some of Idaho’s top agricultural export markets are Canada, Mexico, Japan and China. According to the 2010 Idaho Agricultural Statistics, Idaho exported over 283 million pounds of alfalfa, field and garden beans, sweet corn, Kentucky bluegrass, peas, onion seeds and other agricultural products to 84 countries. This hearing will take place on May 12th and start at 10:00am EDT. Click here to listen/watch the hearing.

Also on May 12th, the US Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety is holding a hearing titled Federal Efforts to Protect Public Health by Reducing Diesel Emissions. This hearing begins at 2:30pm EDT. You should be able to watch or listen if you click here.

Finally, the US Department of the Interior delisted the recovered grey wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains. If you click the links below, you’ll be able to read the comments from Idaho’s US Senate and House members.

Senator Mike Crapo

Senator Jim Risch

Congressman Mike Simpson

Congressman Raul Labrador

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Western Idaho Fair Announces “Family Farm Today” Celebration

This year, the Western Idaho Fair is planning to recognize ten farm families through their Farm Family Today celebration. This brand new initiative will recognize farm and ranch life, promote outstanding farmer qualities, and strengthen a relationship between an urban fairgoer and the agriculturalists who have made fairs a fantastic family tradition.

This year’s fair starts on August 19th and ends on August 28th. Nearly 250,000 people attend the fair each year.

Selections for “Farm Family of the Day” are open from April 15 to June 15. If you click here, you’ll be taken to the nomination page. Families are eligible from any agricultural basis and must be farming/ranching in Idaho. Selected producers will receive recognition during the annual Western Idaho Fair, the Fair’s visitor’s guide and website, and a special tribute in the Idaho Statesman.

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Congrats to Peter Van Der Meulen!

On Friday, April 29th, Governor Butch Otter announced his appointments to the Idaho Water Resource Board. Mr. Peter Van Der Meulen, who serves on the Blaine Soil Conservation District board, was one of Governor Otter’s three appointees.

We know Peter’s background in conservation will be a great asset to the IWRB. Congratulations Peter from the IASCD Board of Directors and staff!

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