We are delighted to have the Cascadia Conservation District staff now sharing our offices. They moved in at the end of last month and filled up much of the second of our building at 14 N. Mission.
We had extra space and they needed to save money on rent. We are enjoying having them in our building.
To get a better understanding of the organization, I sat down with Mike Rickel, the project manager, to chat about their operations. For many people outside of agriculture and conservation organizations, the Cascadia Conservation District is a mystery.
Conservation districts were set up in the 1930s after the Dust Bowl experience resulting from misuse of agriculture lands on the Great Plains, Rickel told me.
Like other county conservation districts, Cascadia works on a voluntary basis with land owners to promote thoughtful and sustainable use of lands and is governed by a board of landowners in the county. They work on such things as more efficient use of irrigation to save water for in stream flows for fish, forest fuels reduction to lessen the likelihood of wildfires, and encourage best practices for pesticide use and land management.
They also do some cool student outreach efforts, such as Kids in the Creek, which gets high school students out in the field to do hands-on learning.
One of the big emphasis points in this region is salmon recovery. They were at the center of a somewhat contentious effort to improve habitat on the Entiat River by placing woody debris strategically. There were concerns about potential safety issues and unintended consequences.
They are anxious to learn if the effort has yielded more fish, although the impacts of hydropower, hatcheries, ocean conditions and other factors also have a significant impact on numbers. Getting hard numbers is challenging.
Most recently, they've been assisting irrigators who are affected by the lowering of the Rock Island Dam reservoir because of structural issues at Wanapum Dam downstream.
Cascadia has been assisting with permit applications to help them get water to their crops.
Rickel, an Omak native, said the satisfaction they get from the work is to meet the needs of landowners, help fish and make agriculture more viable in the county
Their open house will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, March 28 at our offices at 14 N. Mission. Stop by and learn more about what they do to make our communities stronger.