Increasing Pace and Scale for Conservation at the 74th Annual CARCD Conference


The Annual CARCD Conference is a highly anticipated event that brings together conservation practitioners, scientists, private landowners and land managers, legislators, and non-profits, as well as state, federal, and regional agency representatives.

Increasing Pace and Scale: Local Action for Water, Soil, and Forest Resilience

The California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD) continued the tradition of bringing together the conservation community from around the state at the 74th Annual CARCD Conference. The theme was “Increasing Pace and Scale: Local Action for Water, Soil, and Forest Resilience” and the conference was held from November 12-15, 2019 at the Sheraton Hotel at the Sundial Bridge in Redding, California. A great big thank you to the RCD of Tehama County and the Western Shasta RCD for co-hosting the conference.

Snapshots from the 74th Annual CARCD Conference

RCD Capacity Day

Tuesday, November 12 was a free day of training for RCD staff and directors, presented by CARCD and made possible by funding from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. This year’s RCD Capacity Day featured peer-to-peer learning opportunities given by RCDs for RCDs, with presentations focused on district administration, revenue development, and strategic communications.

Soil Health Terrace

The Soil Health Terrace was a free all-day training, co-hosted by CARCD and East Stanislaus RCD, and held in conjunction with our Annual CARCD Conference. Use of Ross Ranch for the Soil Health Terrace was generously donated by The McConnell Foundation. The workshop focused on providing better technical assistance around soil health and was attended by RCD staff, our partners, and the public. Attendees had an opportunity to review the Ross Ranch’s Carbon Farm Plan with Point Blue Conservation Science and the Carbon Cycle Institute. East Stanislaus RCD gave expert advice on soil health monitoring and sampling, and Rancher to Rancher gave a unique perspective on facilitation through peer-to-peer experiential learning.

Plenary Session

During the Plenary Session, Jennifer Montgomery, the Director of the Governor’s Forest Management Task Force, spoke on “Scaling Up by Scaling Down,” which offered a glimpse at how the state needs boots on the ground to achieve its vision of a fire resilient California. Laurie Tippin from the Honey Lake Valley RCD moderated the Carr Fire Recovery Efforts Panel featuring: Martin Spannaus, Fuel and Fire Education Coordinator with the Glenn County RCD; Thomas Garcia, Fire Management Officer with the National Parks Service Whiskeytown NRA; and Ben Rowe, Shasta-Trinity Unit Forester with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Toward the end of the Plenary, CARCD leadership and Marc Smiley, Principal of Solid Ground Consulting, hosted an interactive activity for the audience focused on the importance of incorporating equity, diversity, and inclusion into conservation efforts in California. This conversation signaled the launch of what will be an ongoing statewide initiative for CARCD and the RCD network centered around ensuring that our resources, education efforts, and technical assistance are reaching everyone in our communities, including those who have been historically underserved, for great conservation impact. We look forward to working with RCDs and our partners to ensure that our work truly benefits whole communities. Handouts from the opening session can be viewed here.

Karen Buhr opening session

CARCD’s executive director Karen Buhr speaks about CARCD’s renewed commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion at the opening session for CARCD’s Annual Conference

Partnership Awards Luncheon

Resource Conservation Districts and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service celebrated their long partnership, and presented awards to recognize outstanding staff. Videos of the awards ceremony can be viewed at the following links:

Sponsor mixer

During the CARCD Annual Conference Sponsor Mixer, attendees enjoyed drinks and appetizers while networking with sponsors and partners.

CARCD Awards Dinner

The RCD network celebrated excellence and service in the conservation community during the annual CARCD Awards Dinner. See the full list of award winners here.  Shasta County Supervisor and champion of RCDs, Mary Rickerts, offered opening comments and Jenny Lester Moffitt, Undersecretary with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, spoke about our long-standing partnership and the importance of scaling conservation from the state to the local level.

High School Speak-Off Competition

Every year, CARCD hosts a statewide competition for high school students who want to speak out about relevant conservation topics. Students first compete at the regional level, with the top speakers advancing to the state competition. The 2019 speak-off topic was: “Why do we need to act to save the monarch butterfly? What can RCDs do to help?” The high school students gave fantastic presentations, demonstrating a clear desire for and dedication to natural resource conservation. Cash prizes were awarded to the top three competitors: Alexandre Widman with the Sierra RCD (1st prize), Izabella Fredericks with the Glenn County RCD (2nd prize), and Kiyani Carter with the Inland Empire RCD. Congratulations to the winners! Keali’i Bright with the California Department of Conservation closed the competition by celebrating the partnership between the Department and RCDs, laying out an exciting vision and updates for the Department for the next few years.

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

CARCD received more presentation abstracts than ever before, and featured concurrent breakout sessions in four tracks:

  • Partnerships and Programs for Relevant, Excellent, Visible RCDs
  • Working Lands Are the Solution
  • Forest Health and Fire Resilience
  • Increasing Pace and Scale for Watershed Management

We are constantly inspired by the work of RCDs and our partners. You can see the full conference agenda here.

Conference 2020—See You in Santa Barbara!

We are in the process of finalizing our hotel for our 75th Annual CARCD Conference in Santa Barbara, generously co-hosted by the Cachuma RCD. Stay tuned by liking our Facebook page or subscribing to our e-newsletter with the form on our home page. We hope to see you there!