NACD Comments on EPA Interpretive Rule on Clean Water Act Permitting

WASHINGTON, DC—June 13, 2014—The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) submitted comments today on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Interpretive Rule (IR) Regarding Applicability of the Exemption from Permitting under section 404(f)(I)(A) of the Clean Water Act.

“Districts have more than 75 years of experience in working on locally-led clean water efforts in close partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) across the nation,” said NACD President Earl Garber. “Because of this expertise and national perspective, we are well positioned to provide comments regarding the Interpretive Rule and the role of NRCS within the process.”

NACD’s comments address three main issue areas within the IR: 1) the importance that NRCS is not placed in a compliance or regulatory role; 2) “normal farming, silviculture, and ranching” activities are exempted from permitting; and 3) producers are not required to notify regulatory agencies nor NRCS when they self-implement practices.

NACD appreciates that nothing in the IR changes the roles or responsibilities of NRCS, EPA or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). However, NACD has concerns about the way in which NRCS will be required to respond to questions from the USACE or courts. It is extremely important that NRCS maintain its role and reputation as a “non-regulatory” body in the agricultural community.

NACD is pleased that the IR acknowledges the water quality benefits resulting from voluntary conservation practices by exempting from permitting certain practices that fall under the statute of “normal farming, silviculture, and ranching” activities. However, we recognize that these practices are in addition to other practices that also fall under this statutory provision of “normal.” There will be many Best Management Practices (BMPs) and other practices with benefits to water quality and quantity that are not currently identified on the list; for this reason, we look forward to reviewing the list at least annually to ensure it fully reflects the breadth of conservation practices being implemented across the country.

Finally, NACD is supportive that the IR will not require producers to notify regulatory agencies nor NRCS when they self-implement practices. Reducing uncertainty and the administrative burdens of applying for permits will increase conservation application. Voluntary conservation programs do not include sufficient resources to allow follow-up at a regulatory scope and scale—in order to determine that the practice is implemented in conformance with [listed] NRCS technical standards— at every site where a practice is installed.

“Conservation planning is extremely important, because what we invest in our water resources today will reduce our need for clean-up efforts in the future,” said Garber. “We promote voluntary conservation. While we prefer cooperators implement conservation practices under cooperator contracts according to NRCS standards, they are not required to for CWA purposes.”

NACD’s comments on the IR are based on input from its network of 3,000 conservation districts across the nation. We look forward to continuing to gather additional member input in order to provide comments on the jurisdictional question of the definition of waters of the U.S., pursuant to EPA’s Proposed Rule.

USDA-NRCS State Technical Committee Meeting June 24

The public is invited to the next meeting of the Natural Resources Conservation Service State Technical Committee on June 24, 2014 from 9am–1pm.
The meeting will be held via video teleconference at seven NRCS locations throughout the state:

· Flagstaff Area Office
· Tucson Area Office
· Arizona State Office in Phoenix
· Fredonia Field Office
· Holbrook Field Office
· Shiprock Field Office
· Yuma Field Office

The attached flyer contains specific address and contact information for each location.

Typical agenda items include conservation priorities and programmatic updates. However, specific agenda items will be posted two weeks prior to the meeting date at www.az.nrcs.usda.gov. The main audience consists of Federal, State, and Tribal agencies, along with other related organizations, but the meetings are open to the public and all are invited. For more information call 602-280-8808.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

20140521_STACAnnouncementJune24.pdf

Hearing Rooms for hearings regarding the Arizona Navigable Stream Adjudication/ANSAC

Thanks to Senator Gail Griffin, Senate Chief of Staff Wendy Baldo and to Senate staffer Sylvia Oliver, and absent any emergencies or other unforeseen circumstances, we have the following hearing rooms reserved for the inclusive dates indicated. These are the dates that resulted from the Scheduling Conference/Meeting held on April 25, 2014 in Phoenix.

Arizona State Senate Hearing Room No. 1, 1700 W. Washington, Senate Building, Phoenix, AZ 85007:

June 16-June 20, 2014 – Gila River.
August 18-August 21, 2014 – Upper Salt River.
October 20-October 23, 2014 – Verde River.
December 15-December 19, 2014 – Lower Salt River.

In the event of a Special Session or some other circumstance we may be moved to other rooms within the Senate or may need to find other rooms elsewhere.

George Mehnert
Director
ANSAC-Navigable Streams

email: nav.streams web: www.ansac.az.gov

Public Meeting Schedule Announced For Tonto NF Forest Plan Revision

Phoenix (May 1, 2014) -

The public is invited to participate in a series of meetings (“Community Forums”) focused on the assessment of existing conditions and trends on the Tonto National Forest as part of its Land and Resource Management Plan Revision (“Forest Plan”) process.

The four-year revision process involves three phases: Assessment of forest resource conditions and trends, development of a revised plan, and monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of the plan. The Forest is currently in the Assessment phase.

At the community forums, the public can listen to presentations from Tonto NF staff and partners on key Forest Plan topics, and give input during breakout discussions that will follow the presentations.

The Forest Plan, which is a requirement of the National Forest Management Act of 1976, provides a planning and policy framework to guide a National Forest in managing its forest resources, goods, and services. Described as “the view from 30,000 feet,” Forest Plans are strategic and broad in scope and provide guidance in the decision-making process involved with site specific projects.

The Tonto will hold community forums in Mesa, Cave Creek, Payson, Globe, Roosevelt, and Young to solicit input for the Assessment. The schedule for the public meetings is:

Mon, May 19: 6 – 8:30 PM
• Topics: Terrestrial Resources – Wildlife & Vegetation
• Skyline High School, 845 S Crismon Rd, Mesa, AZ

Wed, May 21: 6 – 8:30 PM
• Topics: Fire/Fuels, Forestry, Range
• Julia Randall Elementary School, 902 W Main St, Payson, AZ

Wed, June 4: 6 – 8:30 PM
• Topics: Recreation, Scenic Resources, Designated Areas
• Tonto Basin Ranger District Office
• 28079 N. AZ Hwy 188, Roosevelt, AZ

Mon, June 16: 6 – 8:30 PM
• Topics: Cultural Resources, Terrestrial Resources (Wildlife & Vegetation)
• Julia Randall Elementary School, 902 W Main St, Payson, AZ

Tue, Jun 17: 6 – 8:30 PM
• Topics: Air, Soil, Water Resources, and Infrastructure
• Skyline High School, 845 S Crismon Rd, Mesa, AZ

Thu, June 19: 6 – 8:30 PM
• Topics: Mineral Resources, Range, Infrastructure
• Gila County Community College – Gila Pueblo Campus
• 8274 South Six Shooter Canyon Rd, Globe, AZ

Mon, June 30: 6:30 – 9:00 PM
• Topics: Recreation, Scenic Resources, Designated Areas
• Desert Foothills Library
• 38443 North Schoolhouse Rd, Cave Creek, AZ

Wed, July 2: 6 – 8:30 PM
• Topics: Fire/Fuels, Forestry, Range
• Pleasant Valley Community Center, Hwy 288, Young, AZ

Input on the Assessment can also be provided through the Tonto National Forest Forest Plan Revision web site, and via email at tontoplan. The Forest will be accepting input for the Assessment through October 1, 2014

Additional perspective and information for these meetings:
The Center of Biological Diversity has also announced their intent for these meetings, and is included below:

Help Restore the Tonto National Forest

Over the next few weeks, officials from the Tonto National Forest are holding a number of forums to hear directly from the public. At stake is how our forests will be managed for the next 20 years.

At each meeting, Forest Service employees will explain the plan revision process, how you can get involved, and open the floor to public input. This is your chance to tell the Forest Service how destructive forest uses have damaged habitat for plants and animals and undermined the public’s enjoyment of the Tonto.

Without your voice, these forums will be dominated by livestock operators, off-road vehicle users and private industry.

Please — consider setting aside an evening to attend one of these meetings and speak up for wilderness, wildlife and quiet recreation.

Thank you!
Katie

Waters of the U.S. webinar registration now open

The EPA Waters of the U.S. Webinar for NACD members is now open for registration. To register follow the instructions on the link here. Once registered, you will receive webinar log-in information and call-in information. You have the option of just calling in if that is your preference.

The webinar will be held on Wednesday, May 7 from 2:30-4:00 p.m. Eastern

Please distribute this to all the districts within your state as it is open to all members of NACD. After this webinar, the NACD Natural Resource Policy Committee will begin gathering input to develop comments for the Proposed Rule and Interpretive Rule. The full NACD Board will also have the opportunity for input, and a call will be scheduled (It is not yet scheduled). Note: this webinar is not able to be posted after it is completed.

Link to register: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/758449610

Registration is now open for the 20th Annual SW Noxious/Invasive Short Course!

You must register online:

https://www.regonline.com/register/login.aspx?eventID=1131396&MethodId=0&EventsessionId=

Here are the details.

20th ​Annual ​Southwestern ​Noxious/Invasive ​Weed ​Short ​Course

San ​Juan ​College ​in ​the ​Henderson ​Fine ​Arts ​Center
4601 ​College ​Boulevard ​ ​
Rooms ​9008 ​9010 ​9012 ​
Farmington, ​New ​Mexico ​87402

Dates: ​​July ​22, ​23, ​and ​24, ​2014.

Location: ​San ​Juan ​College, ​4601 ​College ​Blvd, ​Farmington, ​NM ​87402 ​(The ​classroom ​portion ​of ​the ​short ​course ​will ​be ​held ​in ​the ​Henderson ​Fine ​Arts ​Center, ​which ​is ​located ​on ​the ​San ​Juan ​College ​Campus, ​Rooms ​9008 ​and ​9010).

Background: ​The ​primary ​purpose ​of ​this ​regional ​2.5-day ​Short ​Course ​is ​to ​explore ​the ​management ​of ​noxious, ​invasive ​weeds ​that ​are ​common ​or ​threaten ​the ​southwestern ​U.S. ​ ​ Local, ​regional, ​and ​national ​experts ​will ​share ​their ​ knowledge ​regarding ​this ​critical ​issue. ​ ​The ​course ​is ​broken ​into ​2 ​tracks ​– ​beginning, ​for ​those ​wanting ​to ​learn ​about ​ the ​various ​species ​of ​interest, ​and ​advanced, ​for ​those ​ interested ​in ​going ​beyond ​plant ​ID ​and ​basic ​management ​ principles. ​ ​Although ​the ​short ​course ​is ​presented ​in ​2 ​ tracks ​you ​will ​be ​free ​to ​tailor ​your ​attendance ​in ​a ​way ​ that ​best ​fits ​your ​needs. ​ ​A ​half-day ​field ​trip ​from ​ Farmington, ​NM ​to ​Durango, ​CO ​on ​the ​afternoon ​of ​July ​23rd ​ will ​provide ​hands-on ​experience ​with ​identifying ​noxious ​weeds ​ and ​discussing ​various ​integrated ​weed ​management ​options. ​ ​ Draft Agenda is attached.

Registration ​and ​Payment: ​Registration ​fee ​for ​the ​short ​course ​is ​$300 ​until ​July 9, ​and ​$330 ​thereafter. ​ ​ ​Credit ​card ​payments ​are ​the ​fastest ​way ​to ​register and will immediately confirm your participation. ​ ​If ​paying ​by ​check ​or ​P.O. ​please ​make ​your ​check ​or ​P.O. ​payable ​to ​ “University ​of ​Arizona” ​(TIN ​#74‐2652689) ​and ​write ​in ​the ​ check ​memo ​”Noxious ​Weed ​Short ​Course”. ​ ​Send ​check ​or ​P.O. ​payments ​to ​Dr. ​Larry ​Howery, ​1311 ​E. ​4th ​St. ​Room ​325, ​The ​University ​of ​Arizona, ​Tucson, ​AZ ​85721. ​ ​

What ​you ​get!

• 2.5 ​days ​of ​intensive, ​excellent ​instruction ​from ​invasive ​plant ​experts
• Great ​networking ​opportunity ​to ​meet ​these ​experts ​and ​other ​weed ​managers
• Compilation ​of ​’fact ​sheets’ ​and ​other ​publications ​on ​many ​weed ​species ​and ​tips ​for ​managing ​problem ​plants
• 2 ​lunches, ​snacks ​and ​drinks ​during ​breaks
• Round trip ​field ​trip ​via ​air-conditioned ​bus ​from ​Farmington, ​NM ​to ​Durango, ​CO ​and ​back ​
• Opportunities ​to ​take ​pictures ​of ​various ​invasive ​plant ​ species ​and ​hear ​field ​presentations ​concerning ​various ​invasive ​plant ​problems
• Opportunities ​for ​you ​to ​learn ​from ​invasive ​plant ​experts ​ about ​integrated ​management ​options ​for ​problem ​species ​in ​both ​classroom ​and ​outdoor ​settings
• All ​of ​this ​presented ​to ​you ​in ​a ​fun, ​learning ​environment ​in ​a ​beautiful ​corner ​of ​the ​Southwestern ​U.S.

Beginning Track Topics: For those wanting to learn about the various species of interest.

• Intro to the Course and to Invasive Plants
• State and Federal Perspectives
• Invasive Grasses of the SWUS
• Invasive Woody Plants in the SWUS
• Thistles
• Knapweeds
• Additional Species of Interest
• Invasive Aquatics
• Using Herbicides
• Using Biocontrol
• Using Integrated Weed Management
• Herbicide Resistance and How to Avoid It
• Unmanned Aerial Systems
• Building a Weed Management Program
• Topics of Interest from the Audience
• Field Trip from Farmington, NM to Durango, CO!

Advanced Track Topics: For those interested in going beyond plant ID and basic management principles.

• Intro to the Course and to Invasive Plants
• State and Federal Perspectives
• Invasive Woody Plants in the SWUS
• Targeted Grazing
• Building Partnerships
• Invasive Weed Management in Riparian Settings
• Mechanisms and modes of actions of herbicides
• Environmental and Economic Impacts of Invasive Plants
• Ecological Traits of Invasive Plants
• Herbicide Registration Process
• Leaf Surfaces and the Effects of Adjuvants
• Evolution of the Herbicide Industry
• Herbicide Resistance and How to Avoid It
• Unmanned Aerial Systems
• Building a Weed Management Program
• Topics of Interest from the Audience
• Field Trip from Farmington, NM to Durango, CO!

Registration ​Policies ​(please ​read ​carefully ​– ​email ​Dr. ​ Howery ​if ​you ​have ​questions): ​

Please ​register ​early ​to reserve ​your ​spot ​for ​the ​course! ​ ​Your ​seat ​is ​not ​reserved and your reservation is not confirmed ​until ​we ​have ​received ​your ​full ​registration ​payment ​via ​a ​valid ​credit ​card, ​purchase ​order, ​money ​order, ​or ​check. ​ ​If ​you ​register ​and ​decide ​to ​cancel ​you ​will ​receive ​a ​full ​refund ​up ​until ​July ​9, ​2014. ​ ​If ​you ​have ​paid ​but ​fail ​ to ​cancel ​your ​registration ​by ​July ​9, ​no ​refunds ​will ​be ​ given ​due ​to ​our ​obligation ​to ​pay ​for ​meals, ​busses, ​ facility ​rental, ​and ​other ​financial ​obligations. ​ ​If ​we ​have ​ not ​received ​your ​full ​payment ​by ​July ​9 ​you ​will ​be ​moved ​ to ​a ​wait ​list ​with ​no ​guarantee ​that ​your ​seat ​will ​be ​ reserved ​(paid ​participants ​will ​receive ​priority). ​ ​If ​you ​are ​selected ​from ​the ​wait ​list ​you ​must ​pay ​$330. ​ ​You ​can ​avoid ​all ​of ​this ​by ​getting ​registered ​early.

Registration ​will ​be ​closed ​if ​we ​reach ​90 ​paid ​ participants. ​ ​If ​the ​course ​is ​full ​before ​July ​9, ​please ​ sign ​up ​for ​the ​wait ​list ​as ​we ​may ​get ​cancellations ​or ​ there ​may ​be ​those ​who ​do ​not ​get ​their ​payment ​in ​before ​July ​9 ​(paid ​participants ​will ​receive ​priority). ​ ​If ​the ​ short ​course ​is ​full ​there ​will ​be ​no ​registration ​at ​the ​ door. ​ ​Registration ​is ​limited ​to ​20 ​people ​per ​organization. ​ ​ ​Check ​in ​will ​begin ​at ​7am ​on ​7/22/14 ​at ​the ​Henderson ​ Fine ​Arts ​Center.

Questions? ​​Please ​email ​Dr. ​Larry ​Howery ​(lhowery).

Lodging: ​There ​is ​no ​designated ​conference ​hotel ​for ​this ​short ​course ​but ​here ​are ​a ​few ​links ​that ​might ​help ​you ​ to ​reserve ​your ​lodging ​in ​Farmington: ​

http://hotelguides.com
http://www.tripadvisor.com
http://www.hotels.com/

Contacts:

Dr. ​Larry ​Howery ​(U ​of ​A)
lhowery@ag.arizona.edu ​
520-309-5412

Dr. ​Richard ​Lee ​(BLM)
Richard_Lee@blm.gov ​
303-236-1734

Issued ​in ​accordance ​with ​Cooperative ​Extension ​work ​acts ​ of ​May ​8 ​and ​June ​30, ​1914, ​in ​cooperation ​with ​the ​U. ​S. ​ Department ​of ​Agriculture, ​Dr. ​Jeff ​Silvertooth, ​Director, ​ Cooperative ​Extension, ​College ​of ​Agriculture ​and ​Life ​Sciences, ​The ​University ​of ​Arizona. ​ ​ ​The ​information ​given ​herein ​is ​supplied ​with ​the ​understanding ​that ​no ​discrimination ​is ​ intended ​and ​no ​endorsement ​given ​by ​The ​University ​of ​Arizona ​Extension ​is ​implied. ​ ​ ​The ​University ​of ​Arizona ​is ​an ​ equal ​opportunity, ​affirmative ​action ​institution. ​ ​The ​ University ​does ​not ​discriminate ​on ​the ​basis ​if ​race, ​color, ​ religion, ​sex, ​national ​origin, ​age, ​disability, ​veteran ​status, ​or ​sexual ​orientation ​in ​its ​programs ​and ​activities. ​ ​ Persons ​with ​a ​disability ​may ​request ​a ​reasonable ​ accommodation, ​such ​as ​sign ​language ​interpreter, ​by ​contacting ​ SNRE ​(520) ​621-7255. ​ ​Requests ​should ​be ​made ​as ​early ​as ​ possible ​to ​arrange ​the ​accommodation.

2014 SW Noxious Weed Short Course – DRAFT AGENDA.doc

“Waters of the U.S.” Webinar for Conservation Districts

Please mark your calendars for a special webinar for conservation districts and our core partners on “Waters of the U.S.,” hosted by EPA on Wednesday, May 7 from 11:30- 1:00 pm AZ TIME. The webinar comes as a result of a recent meeting between NACD leadership and EPA Administrator McCarthy.

Learn what “Waters of the U.S.” means for your districts and your operations. Participants will have questions answered by experts at EPA.

Information about the webinar will be released as it becomes available. For questions or additional information, please contact Laura Wood Peterson at laura-wood@nacdnet.org.

The Proposed Rule was recently published in the Federal Register; to read the rule, click here.

Thank you!
Katie

News Flash!

Important Update…

SB 1214 NRCD; Special Expertise Bill has been signed by the Governor!!! Literally just a few moments ago.

This is a very exciting and important Bill for the Districts. Please take some time to let Senator Gail Griffin know how much we appreciate her support.

Contact Info for Senator Griffin:

ggriffin@azleg.gov

(602) 926-5895

Thank you!
Katie

USDA Announces Additional Support for Small and Midsized Farmers and Ranchers

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2014Today, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced additional support and resources for America’s small and midsized farmers and ranchers. Today’s announcement includes $7 million in university research awards in support of small and midsized producers; $8.8 million in technical assistance for small, socially-disadvantaged producers and Rural Cooperative Centers; and a marketing certification program for small and very small grass-fed beef producers. This is the second major USDA package this year in support of small and midsized producers. The first package included efforts to increase access to capital, provide better risk management tools, expand marketing opportunities, and offer food safety training and educational resources specific to America’s small and midsize producers. Today‘s announcement builds on these efforts.

“Small and midsized producers are a vital part of America’s agricultural future, and we are dedicated to ensuring their success,” said Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The programs and opportunities announced today are part of our ongoing commitment to ensure that smaller farmers and ranchers get access to the resources they need to thrive. USDA is continually reviewing our resources, programs and policies to make sure we are working for producers of all sizes.”

More information about USDA tools and resources available to small and mid-sized farmers, including information about today‘s announcement, is available on USDA’s Small and Mid-Sized Farmer Resources webpage.

Efforts announced by the Secretary today include:

$7 million in grant awards to 10 universities to develop programs that will assist small and medium-sized farmers grow their operations, enhance their production and become economically viable. These awards, made by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Small and Medium-Sized Farms program, focus on developing models to assist small farmers in their decision making with respect to management strategies, new technologies, sustainability, competitiveness and viability. These awards prioritize strategies enhancing access to markets, developing local and regional food systems, assessing the impact of economic changes to new and beginning farmers, and conducting outreach activities which can inform relevant public policy to enhance small farmers’ well-being. For example, the University of Illinois received $495,000 to research risk mitigation participation strategies for small and midsized producers in the advanced biofuel industry, while Oklahoma State University was awarded $484,000 to research economic development opportunities for small and mid-sized farms in the local and regional food system. Clarkson University in New York received $499,000 to study anaerobic digesters for small farms and University of Vermont was awarded $499,662 to research how to improve the quality of labor management decisions for small and medium-sized farm operators. A full list of awardees and their projects is available on the NIFA website.

$8.8 million for technical assistance funding opportunities for small, socially-disadvantaged producers and Rural Cooperative Centers.

In support of rebuilding America’s rural economy, USDA’s Rural Development Agency is making funding available to small and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers as well as Rural Cooperative Centers. The Small, Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant program (SSDPG) will make $3 million available to provide technical assistance to small, socially-disadvantaged agricultural producers through eligible cooperatives and cooperative development centers. Awardees will be able to conduct market research, product and/or service improvement, feasibility studies, training, and implement business plans. Applications are being accepted through June 30, 2014. More information about how to apply is on the Rural Development website.

The Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program (RCDG) will make up to $5.8 million available to Rural Cooperative Development Centers, which in turn, provide technical assistance to individuals and entities improving the economic condition of rural areas by supporting start-up, expansion or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other business entities. Cooperatives have often been the mechanism used by small and midsized producers to work together to access new markets or market value added products. Information about how to apply is on the Rural Development website. In 2013, business and cooperative funding through Rural Development helped 17,773 rural businesses, including 4,200 farmers and 4,472 small businesses. These investments created or saved over 41,600 jobs. Under the 2014 Farm Bill USDA will be creating an Interagency Working Group to improve coordination of programs and services between federal agencies and national and local cooperatives through the RCDG program.

USDA Certification for Small and Very Small Producers of grass-fed beef. Administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), this new verification program is tailored to meet the needs of small-scale livestock producers and the growing grass-fed beef industry. It allows small and very small-scale producers to certify that their animals meet the requirements of the grass-fed marketing claim standard, helping them differentiate themselves and communicate value to their customers. As part of USDA-wide efforts to create more opportunities for small-scale livestock producers, AMS is targeting producers that market 49 cattle or less each year by designing a less costly application process for these producers to use the USDA Certified Grass-Fed claim. Producers who are certified under the new program will receive certificates that allow them to market cattle to slaughter facilities as USDA certified grass-fed, increasing their market value and creating new economic opportunities throughout the supply chain.