West Greeley Conservation District: A Story of Success Leveraging a Cost-Share Program
While many of us applaud the intentions that others adopt toward conservation, following through with action can be financially difficult. Because of this, well-intentioned individuals may hesitate at the idea of planting, for example, a windbreak, a pollinator-friendly garden, or working toward the restoration of a stream bank. But, there is reason to hesitate no more in the Greeley area thanks to Liz Schneider and the crew at the West Greeley Conservation District (WGCD). That reason? A cost-sharing program.
The cost-share program is available to Greeley district taxpayers and includes a myriad of services. But, before we dive into the services, you may be wondering what a cost-share is in the first place. A cost-share is a splitting up of the costs between involved parties. In this case, the WGCD will pay up to 50% of the cost of a project. While the total amount shared varies by project (a point which is noted on the application for the cost-share), it is still an exceptionally helpful program for any landowner looking to work toward conservation on their property. Below is a brief summary of some of the cost-sharing programs offered by the WGCD:
Below is a brief summary of some of the cost-sharing programs offered by the WGCD:
- Windbreak/living snow fence: designed to help establish windbreaks for conservation purposes.
- Cement ditch repair: designed to repair cement ditches that leak water and are generally not functioning properly. Often, notes Schneider, these ditches can leak a lot of irrigation water and fixing them helps landowners conserve said water.
- Small acreage irrigation: designed to improve irrigation on properties of up to 20 acres.
Other cost share opportunities include CRP recovery, livestock well, riparian area grazing, and a reseeding program.
Offering the cost share program is just one part of the game, however. In order to get access to these wonderful programs, landowners, as alluded to above, must apply and be approved for them by a board of supervisors. Schneider works directly with the landowners interested in one or more of these opportunities and guides them through the application process. This includes, at the terminus of the process, taking the application to the board of directors for approval. If approved, she oversees the execution of the desired services. Additionally, the district offers soil testing for landowners that requires no board approval; you can just call the office and ask for Jasen Kettle who will take and have the sample run.
All landowners welcome
Schneider and the rest of the crew at the WGCD work to ensure that the services they offer are known by the local community. They promote their programs all year. Some of their promotional strategies are more “traditional” (at least by modern standards) such as making website and Facebook posts and sending press releases to local media. They also find success in using both mail and in-person strategies; they send out order forms to all district landowners and work directly with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to help interested customers.
It should be noted, too, that landowners of all sizes are encouraged to work with the West Greeley Conservation District as the quality of trees is high and the prices are kept reasonable. This allows plantings of large or small quantities to be more than affordable. Don’t know what trees are optimal for your plans? Not to worry, the crew at the WGCD are more than happy to help you figure that out. They have the expertise about appropriate plant material for the area and what species are optimal for certain plans (Rocky Mountain Juniper or Eastern Red Cedar, anyone?).
In conjunction with providing you with exceptional tree knowledge, there are a number of other educational opportunities always offered by the district. Organized by Kristi Helzer, the education and outreach coordinator for West Greeley, one of these regular events is a planting class. It generally has a few dates and times and calls upon the assistance and expertise of Mike Hughes, an assistant district forester for the Colorado State Forest Service.
Clearly, the WGCD goes above and beyond to provide exceptional customer service and it is no small task. The office helps cover a total of 1.65 million acres of land or about 66% of Weld County. This includes 1.39 million acres of private and about 260,000 acres of federal/state land.
The mission statement for the agency is to “provide leadership and guidance in the conservation and management of natural resources through research, education, financial assistance, and on the ground conservation practices.”
I think you can agree with me in saying they are certainly accomplishing their mission!