The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD) recognized the outstanding achievements of conservation planners at an awards presentation recently at Lake Natoma Inn in Folsom, Calif.
DAVIS, Calif., December 21, 2022 – The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD) recognized the outstanding achievements of conservation planners at an awards presentation recently at Lake Natoma Inn in Folsom, Calif. The awards were in three categories: NRCS planner, RCD planner, and outstanding partner. The prestigious awards were presented during CARCD’s 77th annual conference on December 1, 2022.
The awards were presented during the three-day conference that brings together leaders in on-farm conservation to discuss relevant topics, issues, and priorities for the coming agricultural season. NRCS is a key supporter of the annual conference.
The Outstanding NRCS California Planner of the Year Award for 2022 was presented to biologist Jesse Bahm for his continuing efforts to demonstrate a strong conservation ethic and his devotion to improving the science, structure, and communication of the conservation planning process through NRCS.
Working at the local level, Bahm has had significant influence on the implementation of conservation plans. For example, he has developed monitoring protocols and innovative implementation approaches for at least 10 animal species that would not have possibly occurred otherwise. In recent years, his conservation plans and field work has protected between 75-100 percent of the remaining world population of tricolored blackbirds. Specifically in 2020, his efforts protected over 177,000 adults which was the total population estimate in the statewide census.
“Jesse Bahm has been an outstanding conservation planner, partner, mentor and colleague,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS State Conservationist for California. “He has an incredible passion for habitat conservation, and he has begun to devote that same passion and commitment to his new position as the State Air Quality Specialist.”
In the category of Outstanding RCD Conservation Planner of the Year, the recipient was Sloughhouse RCD District Manager Austin Miller. Miller started with the Sloughhouse RCD in April 2019, bringing with him extensive knowledge of agricultural sciences. He has been involved in a variety of complex responsibilities ranging from day-to-day administrative and financial operations of the RCD – and the Cosumnes Groundwater Authority – to acting as the liaison between his board members and technical consultants on groundwater and other conservation projects.
In the summer of 2021, Miller and the Cosumnes Subbasin planning team held a series of online webinars to educate the public about the draft of the Cosumnes Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan. These online webinars led to face-to-face workshops that attracted an audience of over 100 community members.
The recipients of the third and final award was in the Outstanding Conservation Planning Partnership of the Year Award category. This award went to the seven-way partnership between the Gold Ridge RCD, Humboldt County RCD, Lake RCD, Marin RCD, Mendocino County RCD, Napa County RCD, and the Sonoma RCD. The partners were recognized for their collaborative efforts on the North Coast Soil Hub that provided outreach, education, planning, and implementation assistance to farmers and ranchers throughout California’s North Coast.
Conservation planners help landowners inventory and understand their natural resources. Planners then provide landowners with scientifically sound options for making landscape improvements. The plans can also be used to apply for Federal Farm Bill assistance to implement the recommended conservation practices.
Since its inception in 1935, NRCS has worked in partnership with private landowners and a variety of local, state and federal conservation partners to deliver conservation based on specific, local needs.