PENQUIS - Conservationists from the Piscataquis County Soil & Water Conservation District joined 1400 of their colleagues nationwide to discuss natural resource issues on America's private lands. The 57th Annual Meeting of the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) convened February 9-12 in Orlando, with the theme "Conservation - Imagine the Future." The conservationists met to set policy, discuss key conservation issues, elect officers and recognize national award winners.
NACD President J. Read Smith challenged America's conservation districts to imagine a future in which they meet a broad range of resource needs for their constituents and to face change head-on.
"Embrace these changes, and share in their development," he said. "It is never too late for you and your district to capture the opportunities that lie before us."
The Piscataquis County SWCD's local programs bolster conservation efforts by educating students and the public and by addressing local natural resources issues including vernal pool protection, lake quality, roadside erosion, pond construction and the promotion of forestry Best Management Practices.
Bruce Knight, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief, told the group that trust and accountability are big words when it comes to conservation, adding that Congress has placed a tremendous amount of trust on NRCS and partners like America's conservation districts.
"That will also require more accountability, " Knight said. R. James Woolsey, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, spoke about how carbohydrates rather than hydrocarbons can meet a large part of America's energy needs. He said that a biomass program has the potential to help farmers and meet conservation and environmental goals.
The conference also featured three special forum sessions addressing Farm Bill implementation, smart growth and source water protection. More information on the meeting can be found at http://www.nacdnet.org. While Piscataquis County SWCD Board Chair Stephen Hobart was not named National Conservation District Employee Association's "District Professional of the Year," he did take third place nationally in that competition. The local district was also recognized recently as recipient of the Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief's Field Award for the Eastern region of the country.
The Piscataquis SWCD has been working with landowners and other interested parties since 1944 to provide natural resource conservation protection and technical assistance. For more information, contact the district at 564-2321.
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