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Conservation District holds annual meeting

by Carol Dunn

WALSENBURG- About 50 people attended the Upper Huerfano Conservation District’s annual meeting on November 20 at noon at the Walsenburg Golf Club.  Jim Hribar, District president, gave a summary of the District’s cost-share program, which helps landowners install conservation practices on their ranches and farms.  The 2010 on-the-ground practices, amounting to $65,000 in total project costs, included 3,970 linear feet of gated pipe; three water control structures; four stockwater tanks; 9,759 linear feet of fencing; one spring development; five acres of land smoothing; one float chamber; and 3,500 linear feet of pipeline.  Hribar said the District will not receive grant funding in 2011 for the cost-share program, but the Board has decided to continue the program by funding it fully with revenues from its mill levy.

    The District also sponsors a poster contest and photo contest; supports the Ag in the Classroom Summer Institute for teachers; employs Don Sanchez as a part-time conservation technician; co-sponsors the Ag Appreciation BBQ and the Foundation for Agriculture’s Adopt a Classroom; supports FFA State Range Judging; and financially contributes to the County’s noxious weed abatement program.

    Klancey Speaks presented a slide show about his experiences over the past three years attending Camp Rocky, in Divide, with scholarships from the Conservation District.  “It not only teaches us, the students, what we need to know about natural resources, but we get to implement what we learn,” Speaks said.  He described hikes, field trips and developing natural resource plans during the week-long work-learn camps.  Speaks said 2011 will be his last year as a student, and he has been offered a junior staff position at Camp Rocky in 2012.

    The Conservation District presented its 2010 Conservation Rancher of the Year Award to Bill and Marjorie Riggins, of La Veta.  See companion article in this issue of the World-Journal.  The District will forward the Riggins Ranch nomination to the statewide competition for Conservation Rancher of the Year in 2011.

    John Knapp, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Area Conservationist, complimented the District Board for its leadership in conservation.  He told the attendees that NRCS would have had a very difficult time completing all of its work with landowners in Huerfano County without the help of the District’s technician, Don Sanchez.  County Commissioner Art Bobian also complimented the District on its leadership and commitment to natural resources, referring to it as one of the best conservation districts in the region.

    State Forester C.K. Morey introduced Mark Loveall, who has been hired to help out with forest management mitigation and fire training locally.  Bernie Barella, FSA County Executive Director, reminded producers that the deadline is December 1 for purchasing NAP (Non-insured crop disaster Assistance Program) insurance.