NVSWCD Board Meeting Minutes July 22, 2008



Fairfax County Community Development Center (Herrity Building), Room 941
12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia 22035
July 22, 2008


(As approved by the Board of Directors on September 23, 2008)

Mrs. Packard called the meeting to order at 9:35 a.m.   Those present were:

  • Jean Packard, Chairman, NVSWCD
  • Sally Ormsby, Vice Chairman, NVSWCD
  • John Peterson, Treasurer, NVSWCD
  • Adria Bordas, Director, NVSWCD
  • Johna Gagnon, Secretary, NVSWCD
  • Harry Glasgow, NVSWCD Associate Director
  • Marian Carroll, Stormwater Compliance Specialist, Department of Conservation and Recreation
  • Ron Tuttle, DPWES-Stormwater Planning Division
  • Larry Wilkinson, District Conservationist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Jim McGlone, Urban Forest Conservationist, Virginia Department of Forestry
  • Christin Jolicoeur, Watershed Specialist, NVSWCD
  • Nick Kokales, Administrative and Technical Assistant, NVSWCD
  • Willie Woode, Senior Conservation Specialist, NVSWCD
  • Dan Schwartz, Soil Scientist, NVSWCD
  • Joanna Cornell, Human and Aquatic Ecologist, NVSWCD
  • Asad Rouhi, Urban Conservation Engineer, NVSWCD
  • Diane Hoffman, District Administrator, NVSWCD
  • Chandler Eaglestone, recipient of Youth Conservation Camp scholarship
  • Melissa Reardon, recipient of Youth Conservation Camp scholarship
  • Mrs. Eaglestone and Mrs. Reardon
  • Arthi Aravind, member of Hidden Pond Envirothon Team
  • Mike McCaffrey, Coach Hidden Pond Envirothon Team

Youth Conservation Camp – July 2008.   Mrs. Jolicoeur introduced Chandler Eaglestone, a sophomore at Langley High School and Melissa Reardon, a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, who received District scholarships to attend Youth Conservation Camp at Virginia Tech.  Ms. Eaglestone volunteers as a stream monitor and at Riverbend Park and with a veterinarian on weekends.  She said that the week-long camp experience allowed her to explore all of her interests – biology, entomology, zoology, public policy and education.  It helped her see the possibilities and plan for her future.  She gave highlights of some of her favorite activities – a hike to the waterfalls, learning about the agricultural operation at Virginia Tech, monitoring in healthy natural streams, land-use planning, and experiencing forests, caves and bats. She expressed her appreciation for the time she spent at camp, saying she could not have experienced it anywhere else.  Ms. Reardon thanked the District for the opportunity to attend camp.  She said it was a good learning experience and that she also enjoyed meeting students from all over the state who also were interested in the environment.  The subject she found most interesting was learning about soil quality and conducting soil infiltration and respiration tests.  She liked the hiking and kayaking and plans to stay touch with many of the other campers. 

Envirothon 2008.   Mr. Schwartz said the Hidden Pond Envirothon Team did very well this year, coming in second at the regional competition and fifth overall in the state competition.  On behalf of the District, he presented a certificate of appreciation to the team for its hard work and accomplishments.  Team member, Arthi Aravind, thanked the District for the certificate and said she enjoyed preparing for and participating in Envirothon.  She especially liked working on the special topic, which allowed the team to use its knowledge in a practical application.  She enjoyed meeting people from all over the state and hearing their different perspectives.  Mike McCaffrey, the team’s coach, thanked the District for coordinating the program and providing training for the team.  He said the Envirothon team looks forward to next year, when all but one graduating senior will be back.  He noted that the experience helps the students with their studies in high school, and later in college.  Several former team members have continued in the field.  Dan Dutton is working on his PhD at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and Julia Rausch is working in soil and water conservation. 

Approval of Minutes.   A motion (Ormsby-Gagnon) passed (5-0) to approve the minutes of the June 24, 2008 board meeting.   Mrs. Gagnon’s name was not included on the attendee list, but will be added.

Treasurer’s Report.  Mr. Peterson said he had reviewed the June 2008 and Fourth Quarter Treasurer’s Reports and the found everything in order.  He noted that the Chestnut Fund included the income and expenses for the rain barrel program.  A motion (Peterson-Ormsby) passed (5-0) to accept and file for audit the Treasurer=s Reports for June 2008 and the Fourth Quarter of FY 2008.    

Approval of Resolutions for bank accounts.  A motion (Peterson-Ormsby) passed (5-0) to approve resolutions to authorize bank accounts at PNC Bank and United Central Bank. 

Approval of Soil and Water Quality Conservation Plans.  Mr. Woode presented two plans that were prepared during the fourth quarter of FY 2008.  They comprise 4 parcels on 506 acres and include 35,602 linear feet of Resource Protection Area.  County Code requires a conservation plan in order to establish or renew an Agricultural and Forestal District.  Both plans meet this requirement for the landowners to renew their A&F Districts.  A motion (Peterson-Ormsby) passed (5-0) to approve the Soil and Water Quality Conservation Plans for:  Edith Spalding (470 acres on 3 parcels in Great Falls with hay production, a wildlife preserve, and 33,235 linear feet of RPA; Helen Hill (36 acres on 1 parcel in Vienna with a plant nursery, a wildlife preserve, and 2,367 linear feet of RPA.  Mr. Woode said that some of Mrs. Spalding’s hay land is in an RPA, which is allowed because of the nutrient management measures in her conservation plan that she is implementing; however, Mr. Woode is encouraging her to take hay land in the RPA out of production. 

Cooperator of the Year.  Mrs. Packard announced that the Board approved the staff recommendation to name Jim McGlone as the District’s Cooperator of the Year.  Mr. McGlone and District staff cooperate on providing technical assistance to landowners, participating on the County’s Natural

Landscaping committee, supporting the Master Naturalist program, conducting the annual seedling program, serving on the District’s High School Science Fair judging team, and coaching the Envirothon team.  He writes articles for Conservation Currents, and attends board meetings and the Green Breakfasts.  Mrs. Packard said the District appreciates his partnership and is pleased to name him as its FY 2008 Cooperator of the Year. 

Joint Agreement with NRCS for support of one USDA computer.  Mr. Wilkinson asked the Board to approve an agreement between the District and NRCS for the support of one USDA computer.  In return, the District would agree to use Toolkit, the NRCSsoftware, to prepare conservation plans, record practices, and report practices installed under federal and state cost-share programs.  District employees using the software would be required to have a minimum level of certification and undergo a background check.  Mrs. Hoffman noted that the conservation plan needs to be identified on the NRCS-GIS map in order for the NRCS reporting system to collect the reportable data.  Mr. Woode said there have been problems in the past, such as changes in procedures about which the District was not informed, not having access to a management aspect of the software, and with using the GIS maps.  As a result, much of the District conservation planning work was not reported.  He said he may need special training in current practices, in order to comply with this requirement.  He also suggested asking for clarification as to whether or not using NRCS software to prepare plans would place restrictions on the plan.  For example, when a FOIA request is received, would the District be required to get NRCS’s permission before providing the information, particularly on plans prepared in prior years.  A motion (Peterson-Gagnon) passed (4-0-1) (Ormsby abstained) to approve the Joint Agreement with NRCS and to ask NRCS for clarification regarding potential future problems with regard to software, reporting, and restrictions on the plans.

FY 2009 Annual Plan of Work.  Mrs. Hoffman said the draft FY2009 Annual Plan of Work contains the recommendations of the staff.  The overall plan is similar to the FY2008 plan, with modifications to reflect projects completed and new initiatives.  The Board members will review the draft plan and send Mrs. Hoffman their comments and suggestions, which she will incorporate in a final plan for approval at the next board meeting. 

Potomac Watershed Roundtable – July 11.  Mrs. Ormsby reported the July quarterly Roundtable meeting, held at Manassas Park Middle School, focused on Urban Nutrient Management.  Speakers came from Virginia Tech, the private sector, and local government.   Presentations covered turf grass, the turf grass industry, natural landscapes, the relationship of urban nutrient management to MS-4 permits, and local government initiatives and perspectives.

Green Breakfast.  Mrs. Ormsby said Jim McGlone gave an excellent presentation about trees at the July 12 Green Breakfast.  The topic for the September 13 Green Breakfast will be an update on the status of the Residential and Infill Development Study recommendations.

August Meeting Canceled.  A motion (Ormsby-Bordas) passed (5-0) to cancel the August Board of Directors meeting. 

Pohick Creek PL-566 Rehabilitation Projects.  Mrs. Hoffman said work is underway to strengthen and realign the auxiliary spillway at Royal Lake.  Mr. Peterson said he has visited the site and encourages everyone to visit while the project is under construction.   

Emerald Ash Borer Infestation.  Mr. McGlone reported that another Emerald Ash Borer infestation has been identified in Fairfax County, in the Newington area. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has placed a quarantine on Fairfax County.  This places restrictions on wood chips and logs.  Mr. McGlone said the Emerald Ash Borer moves with yard debris, firewood and logs. He said the search for infestations will be expanded beyond Fairfax County.

Tree Commission.  Mr. Glasgow said several new members have been appointed to the Tree Commission to fill vacancies caused by resignations and retirements. 

Soil Exhibit at Smithsonian.  Mr. Glasgow suggested everyone visit the new soils exhibit, Dig It!, which just opened at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.  Mr. Peterson said he has seen the exhibit and it is very well done.

National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) & National Watershed Coalition.   Mr. Peterson attended several meetings on behalf of districts that were held in Washington DC between July 17 and 21. 

  • The NACD Urban Committee adopted four action items: 1) expand the technical assistance that NRCS and NACD can provide to all districts, 2) increase the conservation operations account in USDA’s funding, 3) explore other funding resources outside of USDA, and 4) follow-up on the survey of urban activities.  Mr. Peterson said he plans to send the NVSWCD report on the Rain Garden Study to other districts and partner agencies.  During the next year, the Urban Committee will concentrate on urban forests. 
  • The NACD Education and Stewardship Committee received a briefing on several programs sponsored by NACD, including a national poster contest and a science contest.  NACD also has worked in support of the new soils exhibit at the Smithsonian.  In 2010 it will focus on promoting urban forests. 
  • NACD’s $1.8 million budget was reviewed at the NACD Board meeting.  Mr. Peterson said the organization is well-managed and living within its budget.  Committees are responsible for raising funds for their own support.
  • The Secretary of Agriculture, Ed Schafer, spoke at the NACD Summer Legislative Conference.  He noted that at the recent Chesapeake Bay listening session in Annapolis, 80% of those making comments indicated the need for technical assistance more than the need for cost-sharing and money.  Following up to this comment, Mr. Peterson drafted a letter to Secretary Schafer stressing the need to provide technical assistance based on the needs of the resources, such as in urban districts where there is not a “Farm Bill workload,” yet they have a growing need for conservation planning assistance and the technical assistance of NRCS conservationists, engineers and others.  Mr. Peterson said that NRCS is charged with providing services for natural resources (not just for producers) and there is a need for the USDA to recognize the need to return to addressing those resources across the board in both agricultural and urban land uses.  Mr. Peterson noted that contrary to what some may have heard, NRCS is interested in being involved in the development of information for publications such as the Technical Guide for urban areas that was developed by the state of Illinois.  Such guides could be used by districts in urban areas.  Mrs. Hoffman noted that it might be appropriate for NRCS engineers to be involved in the technical advisory committees working on specifications for stormwater practices in Virginia.
  • At a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Watershed Coalition, Mr. Peterson received copies of a handout, which he distributed.  The handout highlights the consequences of the proposed severe funding cuts to USDA Watershed Programs – zero funding for planning ($35million is needed), zero funding for operations ($190 million is needed) and only $6 million for rehabilitation ($75million is needed).  Local watershed sponsors have projects they are ready to implement and aging watershed dams are in need of rehabilitation to keep them safe and functioning as designed.   

(Mrs. Packard left the meeting because of another appointment.)  

Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.  Mrs. Ormsby reported that as chair of the VASWCD Urban Committee, she sent a follow-up request to Jack Frye, Director of the Soil and Water Conservation Division of DCR, asking for the status of the study on a possible Urban BMP Cost-Share and/or Tax Credit Program. 

Agricultural BMP Cost-Share Program Spot Checks.  Mr. Woode announced that District, DCR and NRCS staff will conduct spot checks on August 26 for two cost-share practices that were installed in previous years.

Approval of Grant Proposal to DEQ.   Mrs. Cornell said that the Department of Environmental Quality did not fund grants last year for citizens water quality monitoring programs; however, it plans to fund them this year.  She recommended that the District resubmit the grant that was prepared last year.  A motion (Peterson-Gagnon) (4-0) passed to submit a grant to DEQ to help support the volunteer stream monitoring program.   

DPWES-Stormwater Planning Division.  Mr. Tuttle said two rain gardens at the Mt. Vernon Unitarian Church were dedicated on June 19.  DPWES has been working with the church to install several practices in support of the Little Hunting Creek watershed plan.  He noted that the riparian buffer stakeholder meetings will be held on July 23 and July 30.  He announced that on August 4, there will be a brief ribbon cutting ceremony at 8:30 a.m. for the green roof on the top level of the Herrity building parking garage. 

USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service.  Mr. Wilkinson announced the August 12 Joint Employee Development training will be held in Harrisonburg and will cover innovative animal waste solutions.  The August 19 JED training will be held in Culpeper.  It will be an NRCS Conservation Planner Certification Class covering Parts 1, 2 and 3.  Next year, on July 14-15 in Staunton, there will be a national/regional workshop on operation and maintenance for watershed dams. 

Department of Conservation and Recreation.  Ms. Carroll distributed Mrs. Cross’s Conservation District Coordinator report.  It included:

  • First Quarter disbursements are being processed.
  • Funding amounts have been determined for technical assistance to implement the cost-share program.
  • Area II has submitted two nominees for consideration for appointment by Governor Kaine to the vacancy on the Virginia SWCB.
  • The next SWCD Dam Owners meeting will be held July 31 in Charlottesville
  • The State Agricultural BMP Cost Share Technical Advisory Committee will meet on July 31
  • The VACDE Summer Training will be held August 26-28 at Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria.
  • The basin Clean Water Farm Award nominations are due November 1.
  • NVSWCD will be audited in the fall by Robinson, Farmer and Cox.  The audit will cover two years. 

Ms. Carroll also distributed a report that DCR provided to the VASWCD on July 17.  Information  included: 

  • SWCD operational funding is being distributed.
  • Planning is underway for the Joint Employee Development training.
  • The Dam Owner work group focused on Emergency Action Plans at its last meeting and will cover the Public Procurement Act at its July 31 meeting.
  • The cost-share tracking system is being modernized; the Cost-Share Technical Advisory Committee will consider recommendations for 2010 at its meeting on August 21.
  • A subcommittee is exploring financial incentives to encourage CREP signups.
  • Materials from the marketing research on best ways to reaching farmers was tested in the Shenandoah Valley during 2007 and fact sheets are being developed for priority practices.
  • Erosion and sediment control program reviews are being conducted by DCR.
  • Three regulatory actions are underway regarding the stormwater management program and regulations.
  • The State Water Control Board is considering changes to the Biosolids Regulations.
  • DCR is working on a new category for nutrient management planner certification for developed lands.  The Virginia Turfgrass Council and Virginia Agribusiness Council support this initiative.
  • Districts implementing TMDLs will participate in an information exchange on July 24. 

Mrs. Ormsby adjourned the meeting at 11:55 a.m.  

Respectfully submitted, Diane Hoffman's signature
Diane Hoffman

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