James Pinsky: Local working group seeks input

James Pinsky

Teamwork usually enables success.

This is true in sports, business and conservation. In fact, many of your local conservationists like the Natural Resources Conservation Service and we here at the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District are big fans of collaboration. So much so that annually, on the initiative of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, there’s a meeting of the local conservation-minded folks. Officially, it’s known as a local working group and this year’s meeting is scheduled to be held at 1 p.m. June 8 at the Strasburg Community Center, 726 E. Queen St., Strasburg.

“The local working group provides an opportunity for the famers, landowners, and conservation partners to have their voices heard,” said Brent Barriteau, district conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service. “The local working group can drive natural resources management and conservation at the local level by providing input on changes or additions to Farm Bill programs. These changes or additions may be adopted for use in future Farm Bill programs.”

According to Barriteau, if you’re unable to attend the meeting, you may submit written comments for program improvements to him by June 19. His email is Brent.Barriteau@va.usda.gov.

Barriteau asks that anyone who emails him with regard to this event to please put LWG Response in the subject line, and added that emails be specific with suggested changes while briefly explaining how the changes or additions will help address a particular resource concern, or how a program can be made more valuable to farmers and landowners.

Barriteau said input is needed in order to make these programs as useful as possible to the farmers and landowners in the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District service area. He said suggestions from the meeting will be gathered and forwarded to the State Technical Committee for consideration and possible incorporation in the 2018 program year beginning Oct. 1.

“Our local working group’s suggestions have been adopted in the past so your suggestions are heard,” said Barriteau. “This is an excellent opportunity for the “grass roots” level to influence how federal programs are delivered.”

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding working groups:

What is a local working group?

Local working groups are composed of agricultural producers, owners/operators of nonindustrial private forest land, professionals representing agricultural and natural resource interests, and individuals representing a variety of disciplines in the soil, water, wetland, plant, forestry, and wildlife sciences who are familiar with agricultural and natural resource issues in the local community.

What is the role of local working groups?

Local working groups provide recommendations to the district conservationist and the state conservationist on local natural resource priorities and criteria for conservation activities and programs.

How is business conducted?

The meetings will be conducted as an open discussion among members. Discussion will focus on identifying local natural resource concerns that can be treated using programs and activities. Summaries for all local working group meetings will be available at the appropriate local NRCS office.

If you have any questions, please contact USDA NRCS District Conservationist Brent Barriteau at Brent.Barriteau@va.usda.gov or 540-465-2424, extension 114.

James Pinsky is the education and information coordinator for the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District. Contact him at 540-465-2424, ext. 104, or james.pinsky@lfswcd.org. Visit us at www.lfswcd.org or follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/lfswcd