Effective Protection in farmland conservation

February 27, 2013

By ADMIN| Published: FEBRUARY 26, 2013


Former USDA Deputy Secretary and Co-Chair of AGree Jim Moseley Makes Case  for Attaching Compliance to Crop Insurance in Next Farm Bill

Washington, D.C., Feb. 26, 2013—Over the last 25 years, one of the least-publicized farmland conservation efforts has actually been one of the most effective, says a new report by former USDA Deputy Secretary and Co-Chair of AGree Jim Moseley. Conservation Compliance: A 25-Year Legacy of Stewardship explains how conservation compliance, which has historically required farmers to implement conservation measures in return for federally funded farm support, helped save millions of wetland acres while keeping billions of tons of soil on farms. As a result, millions of marginal, erosion-prone lands have remained healthy and productive.

“Few conservation programs can boast the success rate of conservation compliance,” said Moseley, who served as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2001 to 2005. “This program has helped farmers save 295 million tons of soil per year and kept an estimated 1.5 million to 3.3 million acres of vulnerable wetlands from being drained. The results of this compact between farmers and taxpayers have been astounding.”

The report urges Congress to reattach conservation compliance to crop insurance premium assistance in the next farm bill reauthorization.  As federal farm policy is updated, it is increasingly likely that some commodity programs will be phased out in favor of a strengthened crop insurance program that is becoming the core component of the farm safety net. Therefore, according to Moseley, it seems essential that conservation compliance also be updated to apply to the crop insurance premium assistance.

“As Congress reauthorizes the farm bill, it is important that the conservation gains made over the last 25 years be retained,” said Moseley. “Unless included in the ongoing farm bill discussions, there is a possibility that, for the first time in a quarter century, conservation compliance provisions will no longer be attached to the largest federal payment program supporting producers.”

In addition to highlighting the successes of conservation compliance, the report dispels several myths about conservation compliance and presents key facts about the program, including:

  • Conservation compliance is a reasonable expectation in exchange for the significant safety-net benefits the public provides for producers.
  • Most producers are already in compliance.
  • Re-attaching crop insurance premiums to conservation compliance will lead to minimal administrative burden.
  • Conservation compliance includes common-sense protections for farmers.
  • Conservation compliance saves money.

Visit http://www.farmbillfacts.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Conservation-Compliance-Legacy.pdf to download the full report.


New Year’s resolution: Become a volunteer

December 10, 2012

Is volunteering for you?

Do you like being outdoors in a beautiful natural setting or would you like to spend some time in a garden?

Sequoia Riverlands Trust would love to have you as a volunteer at Kaweah Oaks Preserve or Dry Creek Preserve!

If you’re thinking about doing some volunteering in the New Year, here are some tips for finding that perfect volunteer spot.

1. Identify the causes you’re passionate about.


(Kids at Kaweah Oaks Preserve)

Do you feel strongly about a particular problem or issue? Just to think, “Oh, well, volunteering would be a nice thing to do,” isn’t really enough. You might start, but will you stick with it? If you feel strongly about something, such as nature, open space, animals, homelessness or helping children, then that is a very good sign and the start of a great volunteer experience.

2. Determine how much time you have.

(Nature guides showcasing preserve on walk)
Do you want something that is short and infrequent? Or could you donate a certain amount of time each week or month? This is something you’ll want to share with the nonprofits you talk with. There are volunteer opportunities that can fit any time commitment, from being a Girl Scout leader for a school year to registering attendees at a charity event for a few hours.
Nonprofits have become quite adept at tailoring volunteer opportunities to fit our modern lifestyles. For instance, Sparked, a website that helps people engage in “microvolunteering,” matches volunteers who just want to devote snatches of time to their causes with nonprofits that have suitable projects.You may even be able to use work time to volunteer. Many companies have employee volunteer programs, days of service during which teams of employees help a cause, or even loan out “skilled” volunteers to help with sophisticated projects at charities. You can even find a way to use your professional skills to benefit others through a matching service like Catchafire.

3. Contact relevant organizations.

Look up the organizations in your locale that deal with the issues you care about. Contact them and ask if they have any volunteer opportunities. You can also get an idea of what volunteer opportunities are out there by visiting the many online volunteer matching services.Your local media are also great resources. Community newspapers and the websites of your favorite TV stations often have news or listings of volunteer needs right in your neighborhood. Be sure to encourage your neighbors and friends to tell you about their volunteer experiences and how they got involved.Contact one to three organizations and then visit them in person. Ideally, you’ll meet with a volunteer coordinator and get a good idea of how the nonprofit works, the kinds of volunteer opportunities that are available, and how good a fit it is for your goals. It’s a good idea to volunteer for a small project before getting extensively involved. If it doesn’t work out, you can move on. Finding your right volunteer match can make the difference between being a volunteer dropout or a happy, dedicated one.

4. Look for a volunteer opportunity that will be fulfilling.

(Getty Images”)

Volunteer work should not be entirely selfless. It is important that you enjoy what you are doing so that you will continue doing it. Think about what you like to do. Are you a “take charge” kind of person? If so, you won’t be happy knocking on doors or stuffing envelopes. Look for leadership opportunities at nonprofits, such as serving on a board of directors, helping with fundraising, or organizing an event.

On the other hand, you might not want something intellectually challenging. Perhaps you have enough of that in your own career and would like to so something simple but meaningful. Maybe you would enjoy cleaning up a vacant lot, planting a garden or signing people up for a charity run.

5. Match your skills to the volunteer opportunity.

Make a list of the things you are good at so that you can share them with the volunteer coordinators that you talk with. People who are sophisticated with computers, for instance, are in high demand at nonprofits. But your skills might be a facility with people, ability to do detailed work such as keeping meticulous records, hands-on ability such as carpentery or sewing, a talent with the written word, or public speaking.

6. Be prepared for a challenge.

(Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation”)

Boredom and impatience with the process are the biggest threats to a fulfilling volunteer experience. Some nonprofits will be disorganized and ill prepared for volunteers. Don’t stay with that kind of situation. If they deserve you, they will be ready to use you effectively.

If you work for a high-powered corporation, you may get impatient with the way things are done at a nonprofit. Try to refrain from telling them how to do their job.

If you work with things instead of people, you may have to rethink how you operate. Working with people and their problems takes a different and more patient mindset.

7. Expect personal growth.

(Getty Images”)

You may be challenged by having to deal with people who are less educated than yourself, from different backgrounds, and who have a different ethnic background. For sure, your stereotypes will crumble as you witness the dignity of all people no matter their circumstances.

These challenges are healthy ones and will result in your own personal growth if you persevere rather than run away at your first glimpse of life as others live it.

Preserve ready for visitors: Dry Creek opens to public!

March 1, 2012

Dry Creek Preserve is now open to the public on a regular basis and it’s fun to learn a little about this amazing location and transformation. This former gravel quarry is now fully restored and is the first example of an ecologically based aggregate mine reclamation in Tulare County. Its 152 acres is also home to SRT’s native plant nursery. Dry Creek has some ecological treasures as well. It has rare sycamore alluvial woodland found in just 17 stands across central California and ranked third in size and health of all the remaining stands.
In 2004, California Portland Cement Company ended their Dry Creek gravel operations and donated the property to SRT. Twelve years of gravel mining operations significantly altered the Dry Creek streambed and resulted in the felling of numerous mature sycamores and valley oaks. Since 2004, SRT has partnered with community members, educational institutions and other conservation organizations to re-establish natural stream patterns and restore the land’s woodland vegetation with hundreds of oak and sycamore plantings and native grasses. Now, the Dry Creek Preserve once again provides critical habitat for an ever-increasing population of resident and migratory birds and supports native species such as the great blue heron, bald eagle and herds of mule deer. The preserve also has a stunning wildflower show every spring. SRT encourages everyone to come out and see this spectacular natural wonder that has been brought back to life!


August 11, 2011

Sequoia Riverlands Trust has two volunteer days coming up this month, at Dry Creek Preserve on Tuesday, August 16th and Tuesday, August 30th from 9 am – 11 am. If you choose to volunteer you will be helping our Nursery Tech, Andrew Glazier propagate native plants, focusing on potting elderberry and starting some willows.

We propagate elderberries and willow by taking a ‘cutting’ of a mature plant, then soaking it in water to let the roots grow out before planting it in soil. We take cuttings by cutting off a piece of the mature plant’s branch. So essentially, we make clones of wild plants, grow them in the nursery, and then plant them on the preserve where we took the cutting.

Anyone can volunteer, but you need to bring a liability release form with you. If you are under 18, then you need your parent’s signature. Anyone under the age of 16 needs to be with an adult. We hope to see you at Dry Creek Preserve!

You can download a printable copy of the liability release form here.  RELEASE OF LIABILITY_DCP Work Days_Aug 2011


Update on Dry Creek and Homer Ranch Preserves

April 12, 2011

With the opening day only 5 weeks away, the Dry Creek and Homer Ranch Preserves have taken on a new identity. Dressed up in wildflowers and brand new visitor amenities, these new nature preserves are eager to show off their splendor and welcome you to their trails on May 21, 2011.

It’s taken many helping hands to get this far, and there’s plenty more to go. Thank you to all who have shared your time, talent and dedication to the project. Check out the progress at Dry Creek Preserve and Homer Ranch. If you’d like to get involved, sign up for our volunteer e-newsletter by emailing laura@sequoiariverlands.org.


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We’ve officially begun construction at Dry Creek Preserve and Homer Ranch!

March 3, 2011

The parking lot has been graded and lined with decorative perimeter boulders and gravel collected on site. Illustrated interpretive signage is in process, with concepts being developed by three talented local artists: Matthew Rangel, Kacey Fansett and Andrea Cooper. The first phase of planting the native plant demonstration garden is happening this weekend. Trails have already been designated and prepped and await further attention from volunteers (sign up for the Trailblazing Bonanza on 4/16)! Community Boy Scouts are constructing directional signs (there are still many more projects for aspiring Eagle Scouts). And construction on wheelchair accessible bathrooms begins very soon. We are very grateful for the pro bono work completed by the following generous friends of SRT:

  • Cliff Ronk at Quad Knopf  who designed the leech field and septic system for restroom
  • Thom Black, architect, who completed the design of the gateway pavilion and is working on the observation deck design
  • Manuel Olivera who has been consulting with us on how to make the preserve more accessible for individuals with special needs.

We hope you feel a sense of pride too about the fact that Tulare County is about to have two new nature preserves. But we need your help. We need your volunteer hands to help us plant gardens and blaze trails. And we need your financial support. We’re working on the details for a buy-a-brick campaign and hope you’ll factor us into your monthly budget planning in the next couple months. Please stay tuned for your opportunity to buy a brick with your name on it and leave an indelible memory on the establishment of these spectacular preserves!

Location of the native plant demonstration garden that will feature the water-saving beauty of our valley and foothill native plant species. A trail will wind through the garden and around a natural seasonal wetland (noticeable in the middle of this photograph).

Looking out at where the bathrooms and caretaker's quarters will be constructed. Beyond that is the newly graded parking lot.

This is the view at Dry Creek Preserve from the observation deck that will be constructed this month. It looks out on the floodplain and the backside of Terminus Dam.

The poetry of construction...

The Story of Dry Creek Preserve

August 10, 2010

Click on the image below to watch an informative, inspiring 4-minute video on the unique history of Dry Creek Preserve. Also, please donate to the cause! We’re almost to our fundraising goal and we need YOUR support! You can send donations to us at Sequoia Riverlands Trust, 427 S. Garden St., Visalia, CA 93277. Or you can donate online. If you can’t donate at this time, you can help out by getting a friend to join SRT as a member. Have you asked your employer if they offer matching funds for nonprofits that their employees give to? Try it.

Thanks for all that you do for land conservation in our special part of the San Joaquin Valley! You should feel proud of your contributions.

Enjoy the video…