Message from the Acting State Conservationist

Ben Malone-Acting State ConservationistBen Malone

As many of you know, Dr. William Puckett has taken a detail to serve as the NRCS Acting Director of Hawaii and the Pacific Islands for 120 days. We expect him to return to Alabama in October. In the meantime, I was selected as the Acting State Conservationist for Alabama during his absence.

This detail has been an exciting experience and has given me a different perspective on our agency’s operations and administration. I would like to thank my co-workers and conservation partners for their support in making this a seamless transition.

In June, I had a chance to meet Chief Jason Weller who was the keynote speaker at the National RC&D Conference awards luncheon in Mobile. He talked about a new era in conservation with a focus on public-private partnerships through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). RCPP will competitively award funds to conservation projects designed by local partners.  Eligible partners include agricultural organizations, conservation organizations, private companies, universities, non-profit organizations, local and tribal governments and others. These partners can leverage their technical and financial resources with federal funding to target specific resource concerns with an added benefit for our producers. The RCPP priorities in Alabama include water quantity, soil health, energy, longleaf pine, and wildlife habitat.

Alabama was highlighted during two of RFD TV’s “Out on the Land” segments with former Texas NRCS State Conservationist Dr. Larry Butler.  Featured in the two separate episodes were the conservation endeavors of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCBI) and Dr. Salem Saloom’s longleaf pine restoration efforts which aired during the 5th anniversary celebration of “America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative.”

I am proud to announce Joe and Patty Lambrecht as the 2015 Alabama Small Farmers of the Year. The Lambrecht’s operate Oakview Farms LLC in Elmore County. Oakview Farms is a very diverse small farming operation that has acres of fruits and vegetables, hydroponic vegetables, honey bees for pollinators, and also chickens for fresh eggs. Always applying sustainable, environmentally friendly growing methods, their u-pick operation and crops are in high demand. 

Congratulations to Shawn Manning and Steve Musser who were awarded Honorary State FFA Degrees from the Alabama FFA for their contributions to the organization. It is good to see our employees honored for what they are passionate about -- conservation.

We look forward to moving into our next fiscal year although we know there will be some challenges. Through those challenges we will continue to remain steadfast and work with our partners to Help Alabamians Help the Land.