SWCD Directors to Gather for Their 72nd Annual Meeting
October 18, 2012 (Temple, TX)—Soil and Water Conservation District Directors representing 216 soil and water conservation districts (SWCDS) in Texas will be gathering October 29-31 at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort near Bastrop Texas for their 72nd annual state meeting. The meeting is expected to draw approximately 600 conservation leaders and special dignitaries.
Keynote speaker for the conference is Carter Smith, Executive Director, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Smith will address the gathering of SWCD directors at a legislative appreciation banquet on Monday evening.
During the Tuesday morning general session SWCD directors will hear addresses from Jule Richmond, President, Association of Texas SWCDS (ATSWCDS); Thomas Boggus, State Forester and Director, Texas A&M Forest Service; Tom Maynard, Executive Director, Texas FFA Association; Tom Christensen, Central Regional Conservationist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Washington D.C., and Billy R. Bradford, Jr., Chairman, Texas Water Development Board (TWDB).
Boggus, State Forester and director of Texas A&M Forest Service will talk about the agency’s drought assessment program, Bastrop Fire and Recovery program and Texas Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal (TxWRAP) program.
Christensen will focus on soil health as the foundation for conservation planning with a tie in to farm-ranch economics as the basis for long term sustainability of the resource.
He is also expected to talk about how voluntary private lands conservation programs are achieving results. “With 70 percent of the land in the lower 48 states in private ownership, the quality of our environment depends on the decisions that are made by farmers, ranchers, and other private landowners every day”, Christensen said.
Maynard will talk about the status of agricultural education in Texas and of the necessity of agricultural industries working alongside public education to connect agricultural teaching to the real world so that students have opportunities to learn, reinforce experience, apply, and transfer their knowledge and skills into the workforce.
Bradford will talk to the conservation district directors about the 2012 State Water Plan and the implementation of the plan. The focus of his address will deal with historic and projected population growth in the state along with a projected water demand compared to existing supplies. He will also talk about water management strategies.
Concurrent workshops will be held on Tuesday afternoon. Dr. John W. Nielsen-Gammon, State Climatologist, Texas A&M University will do a presentation on current and future drought prospects for the state.
Gina Bono Andrews, partner in the Houston law firm of Oaks, Hartline, and Daly, along with attorney Karen Dalton Walker, will present a workshop on the basics of estate planning, and an explanation of estate and gift taxes as well as a discussion on imminent changes to the January 2013 estate and gift tax law.
In addition, Andrews and Walker will touch on estate-planning issues and techniques for landowners on how to keep the “family farm”. Taking advantage of the large gift giving opportunity of 2012 provisions to reduce estate taxes will also be discussed.
Cary Dupuy and Lisa Elledge with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts will present a workshop on the endangered species act and its potential impact on agricultural producers.
They will also review current species under review for listing and discuss the role of the Interagency Task Force on Economic Development and Endangered Species.
SWCD directors who need continuing education units to retain the currency of their pesticide applicator licenses will have an opportunity Tuesday afternoon to attend a one hour CEU workshop on Pesticide Laws and Regulations presented by Perry Cervanta, Certification Specialist, Texas Department of Agriculture.
Following the workshops, Earl Garber, President-elect of the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) will present an address during the business session of the Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Gerber is expected to talk about the 2012 Farm Bill proposals, budget reductions through sequestration and NRCS state water quality certainty programs.
Garber recently served as the President of the Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts. He also held the position of Louisiana Board Member for the National Association of Conservation Districts before being elected Second Vice President and President-elect of NACD.
The TSSWCB administers Texas’ soil and water conservation law and delivers coordinated natural resource conservation programs through the State’s 216 soil and water conservation districts.
Additionally, the TSSWCB is the lead agency for planning, implementing, and managing programs for preventing and abating agricultural and silvicultural nonpoint sources of water pollution. The agency also administers a water supply enhancement program through the targeted control of water-depleting brush. The TSSWCB also acts to ensure that the State’s network of 2,000 flood control dams are protecting lives and property by providing operation, maintenance, and structural repair grants to local government sponsors and facilitates the Texas Invasive Species Coordinating Committee.