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News Release

2019 NHACD Meeting Was Ex-Stream!

Jeremy J. Fowler, Public Affairs Specialist, NRCS, N.H.

Donna Hepp (standing), Chairman of the Belknap County Conservation District (BCCCD) welcomes attendees to the N.H. Association of Conservation Districts’ 2019 annual meeting at the lodge at the Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford, N.H. October 17, 2019.

GILFORD, NH, Oct. 18, 2019 – More than ninety conservationists from ten districts attended the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Districts conference and annual meeting at the lodge of Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford, and the Margate Resort in Laconia October 17-18, 2019.

            This year’s conference, hosted by the Belknap County Conservation District (BCCD), focused on stream restoration on October 17, and a dialogue about local foods on the 18th, before wrapping up with the association’s annual meeting. The lectures highlighted some of the recent projects and successes within the state.

            Members of the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), New Hampshire, were on hand to listen to the lectures, as well as to participate in several panels about the financial assistance and technical resources offered by NRCS to private landowners considering conservation practices with their property.

            “Through a lot of our programs, we are really starting to see internal shift of where a lot of our programs are starting to go,” said Rick Ellsmore, State Conservationist for NRCS, New Hampshire. “We are seeing folks start to apply for aquatic organism passage projects, dam removals and stream-bank stabilization,” he said.

            The Stream Restoration Conference had a series of lectures, breakout sessions, as well as a walking tour of the local stream restoration of Poorfarm Brook, a project funded with a grant supported by NRCS.

            “Folks, despite the rain, really enjoyed and were eager to go on the stream tour; people thought it was worthwhile,” said Donna Hepp, Chairman of the BCCD and organizer of the 2019 conference.

            “We were able to provide some really great resources and examples of stream restoration projects in the state of New Hampshire, explains Hepp when asked about the outcome of the conference.

            “We were able to make that information more accessible to land owners and conservation districts within the state … and we were pleased to get the high-level participation from all the partner agencies,” she said.

            That information getting into the hands of those who can utilize the financing and resources available is what the conference was all about.

            “We really have a lot of opportunities through NRCS and a lot of the partners that I think will be very beneficial to folks that are interested in these stream-restoration projects,” explains Ellsmore,

            The NRCS is the lead federal agency in conservation of private lands with a state conservationist in every U.S. state and territory responsible for ensuring that government programs and technical assistance are known and utilized by property owners in their jurisdiction.

            One of the success stories from New Hampshire that came into the spotlight throughout the lectures was the restoration of the Beebe River project in Campton, just south of the White Mountain National Forest.

            This was, said Ellsmore in his closing remarks of the conference, “probably one of the highlights of this practice in my 34-year career that I've seen.”

            With NRCS funding and technical assistance, along with partners from Trout Unlimited, The Conservation Fund, New Hampshire Fish and Game, and others, explained Ellsmore, “we fixed over 50 crossing, and over five miles of logging trails,” something Ellsmore considered “just a positive spin on a number of things, and I look at that as conservation forever … I hope to emulate and do more of that in the future."

            The annual meeting is held in the fall each year and is hosted by a different district each year with a different theme. Next year is projected to be unique as it marks the 75th year of the passing of New Hampshire law to establish conservation districts.

            “I would really like to thank Belknap Conservation District for organizing this year's NHACD annual meeting,” said Ellsmore in address to the attendees.  “It was a great talk and very fitting for your area that relies so much on clean water for your economy and your job market. It's really great to see the number of partners here engaging in this pretty successful meeting,” concluded Ellsmore, “And I Would like to thank everybody for supporting this great organization and for all that you do for conservation in our great state."

            NRCS is USDA’s primary private lands conservation agency. The agency generates, manages, and shares the data, technology, and science-based conservation practice standards that enable partners and policymakers to make informed land management decisions.