Monthly Archives: September 2011

IASCD Sends Comments to BLM Regarding Shoshone Basin Grazing Permit Renewal

Today, the Idaho Association of Soil Conservation District Board of Directors sent a comment letter to the Bureau of Land Management regarding the Shoshone Basin Grazing Permit Renewal.  According to a Department of the Interior announcement in the Federal Register (Vol. 76, No. 170/September 1, 2011), the BLM intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for grazing permit renewals in the Shoshone Basin area located in Twin Falls County, Idaho.  The EIS will explore potential impacts from proposed grazing against the backdrop of wildfire and the development of energy projects that are foreseen in the area.

The IASCD Board of Directors reminded BLM that Idaho’s soil and water conservation districts are the local agencies to provide assistance private landowners and land users in the conservation, sustainment, improvement and enhancement of our state’s natural resources.  Federal law requires agencies to coordinate planning and implementation activities with state and local governments.  IASCD also requested the BLM meet with all affected SWCD’s in the proposed area, as well as the Idaho Soil and Water Commission.

You can read the letter in its entirety by clicking here.

There is still time to comment on this EIS.  If you would like more information, please contact Bret with IASCD.

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Job Opening with the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission

Last week, the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission posted a job opportunity to fill the Agriculture Program/District Support Services Specialist position. The position may be located anywhere in the State however the incumbent will be expected to work a minimum of one week per month in Boise.

Some duties will include leading the process for coordinating statewide technical assistance by conducting annual district needs assessment, collaborate with conservation partners, lead stakeholder workgroup(s) to rank requests for technical assistance, and strategize provision of coordinated technical assistance in accordance with the Commission, district, and partner strategic and conservation plans. Also, this position will supervise regional team leaders and field staff in performance of technical assistance duties and inspect fieldwork and review documents for technical requirements, compliance with state and federal laws, and fairness in lease/contract administration.

If you’d like to learn more about this opening, or to apply for the job, click here and you’ll be taken to the job announcement.

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Federal Legislative Update: Sept. 19th to Sept. 23rd

There are a handful of interesting hearings next week in the US House of Representatives and in the US Senate.  Also, the big debate on the House floor will probably be H.J. Res. 79, the continuing resolution legislation.

On Saturday, September 24th, 2011 the US House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture will hold a field hearing in Springfield, IL. The subject is a review of the Role of Broadband Access in Rural Economic Development. This hearing starts at 12:00pm CDT. You can listen to the hearing by clicking here.

On Monday, September 19 the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands will hold a field hearing on “Restoring Public Access to the Public’s Lands: Issues Impacting Multiple-use on Our National Forests.” The field hearing will be in Sacramento, CA and start at 10:00am PDT. Congressman Raul Labrador (ID-01) is a member of this subcommittee. You can watch the hearing by clicking here.

The US Senate Subcommittee on National Parks is holding a hearing on September 21st o consider a recently released report by the National Park Service: A Call to Action: Preparing for a Second Century of Stewardship and Engagement. This hearing starts at 2:30pm EDT, and you can watch the hearing by clicking here.

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Federal Legislative Update: Sept. 12th to Sept 16th, 2011

Next week, the US House Committee on Agriculture will hold two subcommittee hearings. The first will be held by the Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture on September 13, 2011 and will examine USDA rural development policies. It starts at 10:00am EDT, and you should be able to watch/listen to the hearing by clicking here.

On September 14th, the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry will hold a hearing to examine the issue of feed availability and its effect on the livestock and poultry industries. This hearing starts at 1:30pm EDT, and you can listen or watch by clicking here.

Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) will be holding a tele-townhall meeting on Monday, September 12th, 2011. The call will start at 7:00pm MDT/6:00pm PDT. This is an excellent way to get an update on what is happening in Washington, and also to ask the Senator a question. To participate, you’ll need to click here.

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US Senate Appropriations Committee Marks-up the FY12 Ag Approps Bill

Yesterday, the US Senate Appropriations Committee marked-up the FY 2012 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies bill. This legislation funds NRCS Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) and Farm Bill conservation programs.

The Committee approved a $19.78 billion FY 2012 spending bill, which is $138 million below FY 2011 levels but $2.7 billion above the House passed FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The Senate’s version also provides $828 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, as compared to $871 million in FY 2011. While still a decline in funds, these cuts were not as severe as the version passed by the House earlier this summer.

As always, IASCD encourages you to contact our Senators to share with them the importance of the conservation title in the upcoming Farm Bill. Also, share some of the projects that have made positive impacts to natural resources in Idaho.

Click here to email Senator Mike Crapo.

Click here to email Senator Jim Risch.

For further information, please read the Committee’s press release regarding passage of the FY ’12 Ag Appropriations bill.

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Testimony Before the US Senate Committee on Agriculture

On August 25, 2011, the US Senate Committee on Agriculture held a field hearing in Wichita, Kansas. The President of the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts presented testimony on the benefits of conservation in his state and around the nation. We encourage you to read the testimony in its entirety, but here are a few excerpts.

But the key difference between the Dirty Thirties and today is the improved farming and soil conservation practices that prevent wind erosion and keep the Great Plains from experiencing the dust storms that plagued the area back then.

Farm Bill conservation programs should be resource-driven and locally led with sufficient flexibility to allow funding to be directed to local priorities and concerns.

Ensure that the delivery system for conservation programs is easily accessible for conservation program customers. The signup process must be simple, easy to understand, completed with reasonable effort, and reach a broad customer audience.

In closing, we would urge Congress to, at a minimum, maintain the mandatory conservation funding levels as agreed to in the 2008 Farm Bill so that conservation programs aimed at providing critical assistance to farmers, ranchers, and other landowners to address local resource issues will continue to benefit us all with improved air and water quality and soil health.

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