For the first time in its 48 years of operation, the Clallam Conservation District won the Conservation District of the Year Award in 2007.
The Washington Association of Conservation Districts distributes the award annually. Conservation districts are nationwide, grassroots conservation agencies.
The Clallam branch is governed by a local board of five supervisors and employs three full-time employees and three half-time employees. The district offers a variety of voluntary programs to help county landowners conserve natural resources with services that emphasize soil and stream quality, habitat, livestock, forest stewardship, native plantings and irrigation management.
"It feels good to get the award for the first time," district manager Joe Holtrop said. "2007 was a big year for us."
Fred Colvin, the Washington association president, praised Clallam Conservation District "for getting conservation on the ground through an exemplary coordinated and comprehensive conservation program" during an awards ceremony at the WACD annual meeting in Vancouver, Wash., in late November.
In recent years, the district has administered grants on behalf of the Dungeness Valley irrigation districts and companies as they replace inefficient irrigation ditches with pipelines, benefiting threatened salmon stocks in the Dungeness River.
Earlier in 2007, the district developed a stormwater management manual for residential developers to help lessen their impact to the landscape.
"Our budget for 2007 was huge, about $4.25 million, which funded some major projects," Holtrop said. "It won’t be like that every year though. For instance, next year it will be much lower than that without some of these practices continuing at the pace they kept in 2007."
Some long-established programs of the district include providing information and technical assistance to land users to enable them to practice better stewardship of resources. Traditional recipients have been livestock owners.
The not-so-traditional land users include residential landowners seeking environmentally friendly landscaping alternatives. The district assists about 200 homeowners a year by presenting workshops and conducting an annual native plant sale to help make natural landscapes more affordable.