“After 40 years with NRCS, I feel like I’m just getting started,” says Rich Casale, District Conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Capitola, California. He adds, “Honestly, I don’t even think of retirement, in fact, I feel like I have more to offer now than any other time in my career.” Rich is now one of the longest (not oldest) serving NRCS employees in California, an agency with more than 400 employees statewide.
When Rich walked into the Santa Barbara field office on June 17, 1974 to report for his first day of duty, the office staff didn’t know he was coming. They were so unprepared that they gave him policy manuals to read his entire first day on the job. In April 1975, as a young soil conservationist, he transferred to the Salinas office, which at that time served both Monterey and Santa Cruz County. Later that same year he started working out of an NRCS area administrative office that was located in Watsonville in order to better assist Santa Cruz County growers and conservation districts. During the next three years he assisted four local conservation districts helping them to reorganize their territories, and allowing the formation of the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County in February, 1978. By May of 1979, NRCS opened a full-fledged field office to exclusively serve Santa Cruz County. Rich was selected to serve as the first District Conservationist for the newly established office and still serves in that capacity 35 years later.
Local partnership receives state grant to promote and construct ground water recharge, water quality and flood management projects in Santa Cruz County
The County and City of Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley Water District, the Resource Conservation District (RCD) and the Regional Water Management Foundation have partnered to successfully secure $2,259,773 in Proposition 84 Stormwater Grant Program funds to complete four projects that enhance groundwater recharge, reduce flooding and foster countywide cooperation in reducing polluted rain water runoff (stormwater). The partners are contributing an additional $712,310 of local in-kind match to complete the projects. This effort continues a long tradition of collaboration among organizations working together to improve water quality and water supply in Santa Cruz.
The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCD) has received a small grant from the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District to support chipping services for fuel load reduction in Santa Cruz County. The funding is meant to provide an alternative to burning for communities identified as susceptible to wildfire in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (2010). Visit the following website to determine if you’re within the designated area http://www.santacruzcountyfire.com/resource_mgmt/cwpp/2010_cwpp_final.pdf
Rebates of up to $800 are available on a competitive basis to reimburse landowners for chipping services. Landowners are responsible for vegetation removal to comply with the 100 foot defensible space requirement. Visit the RCD’s website for more information on creating defensible space. The “Living With Fire Guide” is an essential resource for effective clearing of vegetative fuels around your home. http://www.rcdsantacruz.org/fire-prevention-fuel-load-management
Landowners who are interested in applying for chipping rebates must complete and sign this Application for Chipper Program.pdf. Please send completed applications to:
Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County
Attention: Alicia Moss, Program Manager
820 Bay Avenue, Suite 128
Capitola, CA 95010