2011 Award Winners

Cynthia Tarwater

Cynthia is the Watershed Restoration Project Implementation Coordinator for the Trinity County Resource Conservation District. She has a passion for restoration of the Trinity River System. As the Project Coordinator, Cynthia’s responsibilities include: actively seeking funds and assisting with planning and implementing a watershed restoration program through the sediment impaired Trinity River basin, including the South Fork Trinity River watershed, one of the most unstable and erosion-prone landscapes in Northern California, where restoration work requires substantial technical knowledge and expertise.
Over the past 15 years, the partnership has focused on road decommissioning and road drainage improvements. Cynthia works closely with the Forest Service to assess and prioritize watershed restoration needs. Her dedication to land restoration include some of the following achievements: securing over $5 million in outside partner funding to match $2.5 million in Federal funding, decommissioning over 300 stream crossings, removing over 250,000 cubic yards of sediment from the channel system and reducing erosion sedimentation and road maintenance needs by improving draining on over 300 miles of road. The success of the restoration program is due in great part to Cynthia’s expertise, attention to detail, and personnel dedication.

Carl Garrison, and John Bricker

Through the strong leadership of State Forester Carl Garrison and State Conservationist John Bricker, the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and Virginia National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) have expanded their partnership beyond traditional boundaries using “targeted” agreements to deliver more conservation practices without adding additional staff. Two agencies have increased the development of forest management plans, trained more than 300 natural resource professionals, and triples the number of technical assistance providers in just one year. NRCS and VDOF increased direct technical assistance to landowners to support Farm Bill programs. VDOF staff promoted the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, and the Conservation Stewardship Program, developed forestry management plans, and worked closely with landowners to instill forestry practices. Virginia became one of the first states to sign an agreement between VDOF, NRCS, and the Virginia Tree Farm Committee acknowledging the equivalence of Forest Stewardship, Tree Farm, and Conservation Activity Plans 106 forest management plans. These efforts have benefited several organizations and agencies, including the USDA Farm Service Agency, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Virginia Department of Games and Inland Fisheries, and Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Texas Conservation Collaborative

This is a partnership among the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, the NRCS, the Texas Forest Service, and Polk-San Jacinto Soil and Water Conservation District to restore longleaf pine to its historical range. The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas has enrolled 400 acres into NRCS’s longleaf pine landscape initiative through the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program. This is the first time the Tribe has signed a contract with NRCS as part of a Farm Bill program. The Tribe’s history dates to the 1700’s, when they settled in East Texas’ Big Thicket. Longleaf pine trees are a treasured cultural resource used for centuries in making handmade baskets from the needles. Leaders of the Tribe recognized the need to create a sustainable supply of the needles and approached the NRCS to help them accomplish this goal. This successful partnership benefits the estimated 1,150 Tribal members and future generations, along with the land’s wildlife habitat, and aesthetic and recreational value. Partners have developed and implemented a conservation plan focused on restoration and enhancement of this diverse ecosystem. Site preparation has begun and tree planting is schedules for 2012. A successful multi-media outreach effort includes feature stories in newspapers and partner publications. A video featuring this project has reached numerous outlets, including RFD-TV’s Voices of Agriculture. This partnership was featured at the 2011 Intertribal Agriculture Council and Indian Nations Conservation Alliance symposium.

Forestry Webinars

The Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) and the Forest Service Southern Region (Southern Region) worked with Southern Regional Extension Forestry, North Carolina State University, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, NRCS, and North Carolina A&T State University to produce five webinars in fiscal year 2011 through the Forestry and Natural Resources Webinar portal. SRS and the Southern Region invited the NRCS and North Carolina A&T State University to join the partnership to provide leadership in reaching underserved audiences. In collaboration with SRS scientist, Southern Region natural resource specialists, and university scientists, the team delivered two webinars about the Southern Forest Futures Project and three webinars about invasive plants.

Over 900 people – policymakers, scientist, managers, county officials, private and nongovernmental resource specialist, investment specialists, master gardeners, and landowners-have participants in webinars, with potential impact to 49 million acres. Responding participants indicated the total economic value of the webinars equaled $531,924. Live and archived webinars enable participants to save travel dollars and fuel costs. This also equates to a reduction of carbon emissions. For designated webinars, eligible participants can earn continuing education credits through the Society of American Foresters (SAF) and the International Society for Arboriculture (ISA). SAF credits have been awarded to 437 people, and 30 people have earned ISA credits.

Redwood Valley Collaborative Forest Service, NRCS, and CAL FIRE collaboration over the past 12 months treated 314 acres infested with Sudden Oak Death at the Redwood Valley, Humboldt County. For a decade, this disease has ravaged areas of northern California, killing over five million trees. The partnership resulted in a reduction of the disease on lands at Green Diamond Resource Company and twelve small landowner parcels. It reduced the risk of infection in the following adjacent high value areas: Redwood National and State Parks, Bureau of Land Management, Yurok and Hoopa Valley Indian Reservations, and Del Norte County. Eradication efforts here were especially important because the area is far from any other infestations. The large area, remote location, and multiple ownerships made the project particularly challenging.

The U.S. Forest Service and NRCS each contributed $200,000 through the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act and Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative, which was matched by University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and North Coast Land Conservancy. Green Diamond treated its own land. CAL FIRE, NRCS, and the U.S. Forest Service developed the biological and cultural evaluation and treatment recommendations. CAL FIRE, Department of Corrections, provided labor from two Conservation Camps and Able Forestry handled the in-camp logging, Hoopa Reservation staff marked trees. UCCE led the communication and coordination effort that engaged the affected landowners and stakeholders. UCCE also provided project level administrative and financial oversight. Infected material was taken to nearby biomass power plants to create electricity, which supported maintaining biomass infrastructure.

New Hampshire Conservation Leaders

New Hampshire conservation leaders joined forces in 2011 to enhance fish and wildlife habitat improvement on private and federal lands in the Upper Ammonoosuc and Israel River watersheds of Northen New Hampshire. The unique collaboration between the Forest Service and NRCS expands the New Hampshire conservation footprint by connecting the White Mountain Forest lands and privately owned lands to enhance fish and wildlife habitat management. Tom Wagner, Supervisor of the White Mountain National Forest and Rick Ellsmore, New Hampshire NRCS State Conservationist joined forces to pursue landscape-level habitat improvement on federal and private lands in Coos County. NRCS, in cooperation with Brad Simpkins, Acting State Forester, and Darrel Covell, Forestry and Wildlife Program Leader with New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, began to focus Farm Bill resources on private lands to restore and enhance a large and important mass of critical fish and wildlife habitat.

Key forestry agreements with U.S. Fish and Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, New Hampshire Fish and Game, Trout Unlimited, Wildlife Management Institute, Society for Protection of New Hampshire Forest, and New Hampshire Conservation Districts, energizing the New Hampshire wildlife and fisheries, control invasive species, improve dense softwood and aspen birch habitats, decommission logging roads, build fish friendly stream crossings, and reduce soil erosion and sedimentation of surface success, U.S. Forest Service, NRCS, and other partners are working together to protect important forest tracts in other key New Hampshire and multi-state watersheds water quality and fish and wildlife habitat is declining at a rapid rate.