Inquiring minds want to know how I like my new job and the State of Idaho. From time to time I still pinch myself. And for the most part, I’ve been welcomed with gracious hospitality.
That is, if you don’t count that man who saw my California license plate last week and flipped me off.
While the job’s not without challenges like the other best job I’ve ever had (serving on the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors), what’s not to like?
Idaho’s drop-dead gorgeous. The landscape goes from lush and forested on the Canadian border to dramatically arid on the Nevada and Oregon borders where big rivers flow in deep canyons through vast desert lands. And the people? Save one impatient motorist so far, they’re great too.
The Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission has talented staff, dedicated Commissioners, and great partners that are committed to protecting and balancing the interests of the environment, production agriculture, and local economies.
The Commission’s role is to further conservation efforts delivered through soil and water conservation districts and strengthen conservation partnerships. Those who came before me left a good foundation upon which to build.
Idaho has 50 soil and water conservation districts. Each is governed by a board of locally elected “supervisors” (county supervisors are called county commissioners here). District efforts are funded by a mix of state and county contributions, grants donations, and cooperative agreements with various conservation partners.
Each district is required by state statute to put together plans and policies to guide their conservation activities over the long and short term. They submit those plans to the Commission and we report the results to the Governor, the Legislature, and other interested stakeholders.
In Idaho, districts and the Commission are the primary entities for voluntary landowner conservation – we work with partners like NRCS and the Idaho Office of Species Conservation, the Department of Environmental Quality, and others to provide technical and other support to the districts and landowners/users. There are also potential federal, state, and private partners out there that we have yet to work with though – we will be seeking them out soon.
One of the top things on my to-do list is to visit every district, get to know the people there, and see the fruit of their labors. Tough job, eh? It may take me a full year to get to every district, but that’s the plan.
So far I’ve been to visit districts in the far north, the middle, and portions of the south. Those of you who are friends (or want to be friends) on Facebook can see photos and videos I’ve posted documenting my travels.
This week I’ll go on a rangeland tour put on annually by the Idaho Woolgrowers Association. I can’t wait for that one.
As I was sitting in a district meeting in Moscow, Idaho the other day, it hit me. No matter where I go – Idaho, California, or around the nation – many districts are alike in that they are governed by locally elected landowners – farmers and ranchers – who love the land and love agriculture.
So I feel just as at home here as I did in Tuolumne County with my friends on the Resource Conservation District Board. District supervisors/directors everywhere are generally committed to finding a way to protect both. I like that.
Few district supervisors get the credit they deserve, but they aren’t in it for that. They’re in for the land, for future generations, and for agriculture.
So, for those who have wondered how it’s going for me up here in Idaho, it’s going pretty good.
Getting an Idaho license plate fairly soon might not be a bad idea though.