December 2018

Training Calendar

Please visit our website for more training opportunities:

NRCS 2019 Training Course Pre-Registration Survey

NRCS is getting ready to release their 2019 Training Course Schedule. There are several courses on the list that will help you reach your desired NRCS Conservation Planner Designation, work towards CTD Certifications, and/or enhance your overall technical knowledge. Follow the link below to complete a pre-registration form for these training opportunities:


The CTD is offering ten, $500 scholarships for respondents who complete the pre-registration survey by Wednesday December 19th 2018. Scholarships can be used to support your time and travel (no per diem) for general training events, completion of AgLearn modules, and/or planner prerequisites.

Still have questions about the updated NRCS Conservation Planner Designations? The CTD and NRCS held a joint webinar on the topic earlier this year. You can find that, information about CTD certifications, and much more on the CTD website. Check it out!

...from the CTD!

Project Highlight: Kristoferson Creek

Fixing Fish Passage Barriers Takes A Village

This fall, Snohomish Conservation District partnered with Island County Public Works to remove two fish passage barriers on lower Kristoferson Creek; at the same time, a local agricultural business owner was removing the last of three barriers on the same creek approximately 1.5 miles upstream of the District's project. This fish passage barrier correction projects represent the penultimate phase of a decades-long effort led by community volunteers and myriad organizations to improve fish habitat on one of the few salmon-bearing streams in Island County and opened up unimpeded access to 0.86 miles of stream habitat to the next (and only remaining) partial barrier on Kristoferson Creek.

Kristoferson Creek supports several species of salmon at various life stages, including spawning and rearing habitat for chum and coho (which also benefit from acres of protected beaver marsh and wetland habitat that provides excellent rearing habitat), as well as rearing habitat threatened non-natal Chinook salmon and steelheads. A 2013 report by the Tulalip Tribes and Skagit River System Cooperative documented that Chinook and steelhead from from the Skagit, Stillaguamish, and Snohomish basin use the lower reach of the stream, which flows into a 220-plus acre pocket estuary called Triangle Cove, for freshwater rearing on their journey from the natal rivers through Puget Sound and out to the ocean. It is within this reach that there were two fish passage barriers that posed partial blockages to the young fish (as well as spawning adult coho and chum) accessing this critical stream habitat.

The Conservation District pieced funding together from USFWS, SRFB, WA State Conservation Commission, and the Puget Sound Partnership NTA process (Island LIO) to complete the two fish passage barrier corrections during the summer of 2018. The lower crossing, at the mouth of Kristoferson Creek, consisted of four 12-inch diameter concrete pipes lying side-by-side and was replaced with a 12-foot wide by six foot tall concrete box culvert.

The upper crossing, approximately 500 feet upstream, consisted of a 4-foot diameter round culvert that was replaced with an 11-foot diameter round aluminum culvert. Just a few weeks later, the Kristoferson Farm removed (and abandoned) a barrier culvert on Kristoferson Creek; this was the third barrier the family-owned business fixed on their property.

And about that final barrier on Kristoferson Creek? Island County Public Works is applying for design and construction funding to replace that public-owned barrier with a passable crossing to finally remove the last barrier on Kristoferson Creek and reward the over 15 year effort of community volunteers, private landowners, non-profit organizations, and government agencies to create a 100% accessible stream for salmon.

You can learn more about this project here:

Just For Fun

Looking for a low-tech soil testing method? Short on funding? Tighty-whities to the rescue!

The Importance of Proper Measurement and Documentation of Conservation Practices

As public employees, we need to show accountability for the grantor or taxpayer monies that we use to help landowners protect their natural resources. To demonstrate that accountability, we need to properly quantify and document the conservation practices that are installed.

In documenting, we need to accurately locate completed conservation practices - such as on a well-labeled aerial map and/or recording accurate latitudes and longitudes in a GIS database.

How we measure, or quantify, a conservation practice depends upon the type of practice that is installed. For example, engineered practices are usually measured with a measuring tape, measuring wheels and/or survey levels, or quantified by calculating a volume. Accuracy can be very important to the proper functioning of an engineered practice.

On the other hand, quantifying a conservation practice like a fence is more straight-forward. Fences, for example, can be measured by measuring tapes or wheels; but also by pacing, measuring on aerial maps, or using GPS points. Whatever method used to quantify any conservation practice, it’s important to identify the method used along with the measurements.

Carefully quantifying and recording of conservation practices implemented helps us all tell a more thorough story of how public dollars are employed on the ground, support analysis of natural resource condition changes, and inform plans for future work.

If you have other comments or thoughts about this topic please send them to:

AgLearn Update & Reminder

If you haven't already, make sure to login and check out the new and improved AgLearn site.

Remember that regular logins are the best way to prevent access issues with your AgLearn account -- set a reminder on your calendar to login at least once every 20 days!

Training Experiences

What We Learned at the NRCS 2018 Working Effectively with American Indians Workshop

Do your due diligence with outside research about the tribe, reservation, culture, and income sources (farming, fishing, and ranching). Research background on their history; for example, are they a horse culture, fishing & hunting, art?

Read: Tiller's Guide to Indian Country: Economic Profiles of American Indian Reservations ISBN-13: 978-1885931047 or ISBN-10: 1885931042

1) Relationship building –

  • See if there is anybody you work with or know that has worked with the tribe in the past (agency) and who may have contacts that may be able to introduce you to others. Ask about the experience they had, what worked, what didn’t.

  • Don’t assume you are invited onto the reservation. Get involved with activities with the tribe so they get to know you.

    • volunteer with them in some capacity

    • get to know somebody in the tribe that can help pave the way to go to tribal elder meetings.

  • When asked to talk about yourself, don’t go into what you know and what you have a degree in or other information that makes it seem you may be smarter than they are.

    • Be personal provide information about you so they get to know you

    • where you grew up; your family, brothers & sisters; ranched/raised cattle, sheep, hogs, etc; farmed; raised/own horses, rides; commercial fishing

2) Patience and Perseverance

  • This process takes time to build relationships so plan ahead.

  • We may watch the clock, but tribal members, like old farmers, are often on their own time. Don’t expect to have a meeting at 8:00am - it might start at 10:00am.

3) Identifying problems/ needs

  • When talking with the tribal members or council, be a proactive listener

  • Do not have preconceived notion on what they might need

  • Don’t assume they need something or have a preconceived agenda until you see what they need or having issues with

4) Tribal decision making process:

  • Understand the Tribes decision making process

  • Know who the decision maker/s are - and are they different based on the project

5) Once you determine their needs, tell them what you can do to help them and how you can help them. Address their needs through communication, go through the planning process and ensure they understand completely what they are getting, and their responsibilities.

  • Understand and follow established protocols of the tribe

  • Do not assume during the delivery process of the plan that the plan is understood as this can be an issue.

  • Ask questions in detail to clarify every step of the planning process and make sure they understand their responsibilities before signing the contract.

We as planners understand the process and what is expected, but they may not walk away with the same information.

Eric Choker & Charlie Peterson

Spokane Conservation District

What To Get the CD Employee Who Has Everything...

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