Earlier today, the Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee held a confirmation hearing for the two newly appointed commissioners to the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission. Commissioner Jerry Trebesch spoke first, and shared some of his background with the committee. He has been involved in banking for many years, starting at Idaho First National Bank in Rigby. He moved around the state to Salmon, St. Maries, and settled in the Treasure Valley in 1983. Commissioner Trebesch leases about 250 mother cows on his farm in Caldwell.
Commissioner H. Norman Wright was next, and let the committee know he is an Idaho native. Commissioner Wright worked for the Soil Conservation Service for a short time, and then for Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service. He settled in American Falls in 1978. Though retired, he is the Lions Club president and serves on the American Falls City Council. Commissioner Wright told the committee that he felt service is important, and he is a firm believer in conservation.
There were very few questions to either of the commissioners, and Chairman Siddoway said they would be back on Thursday (January 26th) to vote on the confirmation.
Kristin Magruder then presented the rules governing the allocation of funds to conservation districts. She gave a short speech to the committee, and then took questions. Chairman Siddoway asked what the funding sources were for the maximum allocation. Kristin responded that typically, districts get funds from their county. But districts could also receive funds from businesses and anything other than an individual contribution as long as the funds were for general purposes.
Senator Bock moved to adopt this rule, and Senator Nuxoll seconded the motion. It was adopted by voice vote.
Finally, please know these are not official minutes! IASCD was in the audience today, and we took a few notes to share with you!
The Idaho Association of Soil Conservation Districts wrote a letter to the twenty Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) members asking they fully fund the state match to local conservation districts. While the Soil and Water Commission requested an additional $174,300 to provide full match funds, Governor Butch Otter’s proposed budget did not make this recommendation. Full match funds are consistent with the provision in section 22-2727 of Idaho State Code. The statute allows a state match of up to twice the amount received in the previous year from local support.
We hand delivered our letter to the JFAC members on Tuesday. Below you can read a short portion of our letter, or if you click here, you can read the letter in its entirety.
We know the difficult economy continues to linger across our nation and our state. Idahoans continue to make tough financial decisions regarding their small businesses or with their family checkbook. Governor Otter, the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee, and all of your colleagues have done outstanding work to keep our state’s budget balanced.
The state dollars invested in the district match ripple out into our communities and impact all facets of our economy. We are requesting an increase of $174,300 to the SWC’s FY13 budget in order to fully meet the two-to-one state match set in state code. This additional funding will allow districts to put more conservation projects on the ground, and continue to be the state leader in natural resource issues.
The Idaho Association of Soil Conservation District Board of Directors drafted a letter to welcomed the state senators and representatives to the State Capitol building here in Boise. We hand delivered the letter to nearly every legislator early this morning. If you’d like to read the letter in full, please click here.
The Board gave a brief history of districts and IASCD, as well as describing the work districts do each day to preserve, sustain, and enhance our state’s natural resources.
Locally-led, non-regulatory conservation is the most effective way to help individual land owners and communities preserve natural resources using a voluntary approach to land stewardship. The state dollars invested in these programs ripple out into our communities and impact all facets of our economy; less sediment in rivers means a pristine river for fishing or rafting; healthy soil means a more plentiful crop; responsible land management means a balance between species habitat and grazing.
Our districts and IASCD will be in touch with you during this session to share successful conservation projects that have had positive impacts to their local environment and provide background to you on any natural resources issues that come before you. Districts and IASCD will also share their support for a fully funded 2-to-1 state fund match to districts. This would be consistent with the provision in Idaho Code 22-2727.
During this legislative session, IASCD will work with member districts to tell our story to our state officials. Please let us know if you’d also like to write your legislator a short letter. We’d be happy to help you craft it!
On December 25, 2011, the Idaho Statesman ran an informative article discussing how farms are helping rural communities in Idaho. The IASCD Board of Directors read the article, and felt one piece was missing: the role of the soil and water conservation districts.
In response, the Board drafted a Letter to the Editor. Our letter was published on January 5, 2012. You can click here to read the letter, or simply read it below.
Conservation districts play an integral role
January 5, 2012
We read with great interest Mr. Rocky Barker’s Christmas Day article on rural Idaho. The only missing piece was the work Idaho’s 50 individual soil and water conservation districts do to improve rural economies and preserve Idaho’s natural resources.
For example, Mr. Barker pointed out the rising cost of fuel, fertilizer and energy. Districts work each day with farmers, ranchers and private landowners to help save each of these resources. A district can work with a landowner to install a pivot irrigation system, cutting a farmer’s energy bill dramatically. Buying the pivot from a local business can inject $80,000 into the local economy.
Local governments have been working with districts for years to improve wildlife habitat, restore forests and rebuild streambanks. Local entities know that districts are best suited to work with the land and private landowners, as districts are codified in state statute to be the primary entities for natural resource protection.
Idaho’s soil and water conservation districts are an integral part of Idaho’s rural landscape and vital players in helping our farmers and ranchers protect our precious natural resources.
RANDY PURSER, Moore
Filed under News, Outreach