Our March/April 2013 eNewsletter has been posted to our website. Please click here to read it.
Tag Archives: soil conservation
This morning, the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee set the Fiscal Year 2014 budget for the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission. Representative Steve Miller (R-Fairfield) made the main motion to support a $50,000 increase to the two-to-one state match, and for an additional $20,000 to allow the SWC to recover indirect costs for professional services related to cooperative conservation projects.
“This is great news for our state, our natural resources, and for the fifty soil and water conservation districts in Idaho,” IASCD President Kit Tillotson said. “These increases are a result of our member districts sharing their conservation projects with their legislators, and the outreach by the IASCD Board of Directors.”
The motion to support the increases in the budget passed by a vote of 19-0, and now moves to the floor of the House/Senate chambers with a “do pass” recommendation.
The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee (JFAC) wrapped up their budget presentations today with a handful of reports from the Senate and House committee chairmen. Today’s hearing started promptly at 8:00am with Senate Agricultural Affairs Chairman Steve Bair (R-Blackfoot) discussing the budgets his committee had reviewed.
Bair said they had reviewed the Soil and Water Conservation Commission’s budget, and referenced the two-to-one match was $209,700 from being fully funded. IASCD and the SWC presented to the Senate Ag Affairs Committee on February 14th, 2013 and discussed the importance of a fully funded match.
Chairman Bair let JFAC know that districts use match funds to leverage grants from the Office of Species Conservation, Bonneville Power Administration, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, and even private grants. He also said that local soil and water conservation districts can play a great role in reducing the TMDL in Idaho’s streams and rivers. Therefor, the Senate Ag Committee recommended an additional $209,700.
The date for JFAC to hear the SWC’s budget isn’t known at this time, but we will share it with you as soon as it is set.
Thank you Chairman Bair for your strong support!
Early this morning, the Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee held a confirmation hearing for Soil and Water Conservation Commissioner H. Norman Wright. Chairman Steve Bair started the hearing promptly at 8:00am, and asked Commissioner Wright to share his qualifications.
Commissioner Wright is an Idaho native, a Boise State alum, and currently serves on the American Falls City Council.
“I have learned a lot on the Commission over the last year,” Wright said. “It’s different being involved, rather than observing. I was a loan officer with FSA, and as you know the SWC runs an active loan program. We have looked at ways to streamline the RCRDP loan program, and try to find more people for it to continue.”
Chairman Bair asked Commissioner Wright what has surprised him most during his service on the Commission. Commissioner Wright said he “didn’t know they had a loan program [RCRDP loan program]. It was a well-kept secret, and I don’t want the RCRDP to be a secret anymore.”
Chairman Bair thanked him for his service, and then called on the Commission and IASCD to give their annual presentation.
On January 29, 2013, IASCD and member districts held their annual legislative display date in the state capitol building. We alerted the media to the event, and had KTVB show up around 3pm to take footage and speak with IASCD staff.
The clip was featured on the 6pm news that evening.
Earlier today, the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission gave their annual budget presentation to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. Administrator Teri Murrison gave the committee a brief history of soil conservation districts in Idaho and the birth of the Soil and Water Conservation Commission.
Teri said that we maximize the natural resources for our state, and our “Idaho Way” is not a heavy-handed, regulatory approach. She then listed some of the major trends driving conservation are urban growth, reductions in funding, and water quality.
There are a number of core functions of the SWC such as technical support to districts, conservation programs, and administration. Teri let JFAC members know the total CREP contracts were at 157, and had a total of 17,210 acres enrolled in the program.
Next, Teri spoke about the current TMDL workload, and the number of plans completed over the last five years. She explained some of the backlogged plans and how long it takes a staff member to complete a TMDL.
“We’re passionate about the land, natural resources and locally-led, voluntary conservation,” concluded Teri. She then took a few questions from committee members.
Like last year, Representative Ringo said she is concerned that the full 2-to-1 match was note funded, and asked Teri what could be done with a full match. Teri said IASCD provided her a list of possible district projects, and that will be submitted to Representative Ringo.
Representative King asked for further explanation of the TMDL program and the requested full-time position. Teri provided the Representative with the needed background, and then took a question from Senator Nuxoll about how match funding works.
There were no further questions, and the presentation wrapped up about 8:55am.
Thank you for all who attended or listened online!