NRCS Participates in National RC&D Conference in Mobile
The National Association of Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Councils held their biannual meeting in Mobile, Alabama. “Exceeding the Vision” was the theme which drew over 300 conservationists from across the nation. The Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Jason Weller was the keynote speaker at the awards luncheon.
Weller talked about a new era in conservation with a focus on public-private partnerships through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). He encouraged RC&D Councils to become an RCPP partner by bringing innovative ideas and resources to accelerate conservation on private lands in their council areas.
RCPP will competitively award funds to conservation projects designed by local partners. Eligible partners include private companies, universities, non-profit organizations, local and tribal governments and others joining with agricultural and conservation organizations and producers to invest money, manpower and materials to their proposed initiatives.
The RCPP priorities in Alabama include irrigation water quality, soil quality, energy, wildlife habitat restoration, and longleaf pine ecosystem restoration.
Weller included examples of good partnerships that have developed with NRCS and RC&D councils across the nation.
Following the luncheon, the Northwest Alabama RC&D Council received the Outstanding RC&D Project for “In Harmony with Nature,” and Renona Seibert, Program Manager of the Alabama Mountain Rivers and Valleys RC&D, received the McCarty Award for Outstanding Council Employee.
Alabama RC&D Council Chair William Hodge moderated four concurrent sessions on USDA programs and participation of RC&D Councils. NRCS Acting State Conservationist Ben Malone and Assistant State Conservationist for Programs Steve Musser spoke about “Historically Underserved Populations for Meeting Conservation Challenges through Technology and Partnerships” and “Partnering with NRCS to Get Conservation On the Ground.” Four Alabama RC&D Council Executive Directors (Alabama Mountains, Rivers, and Valleys-Mike Roden, Northwest Alabama-Charlie Meek, Wiregrass–James Currington, and Coosa Valley-Eddie May) discussed how RC&D Councils could explore new opportunities for funding by blending federal programs with local needs to produce results.