Because of concerns about COVID-19, and in an abundance of caution, the Washington Association of Conservation Districts has chosen to delay participation in the Spring Fly-In organized by the National Association of Conservation Districts.
What does this mean?
This means that Washington’s Conservation Partnership delegation will not be flying to Washington D.C. for the March 25 Fly-In. (The Partnership delegation consists of representatives of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Washington State Conservation Commission, and WACD.) We will not be meeting with Washington State’s congressional delegation and their staff at this time. WACD hopes to schedule in-person meetings with our congressional members later this spring and summer when they are back in their home districts.
WACD will seek to meet as soon as possible with the leadership of the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) via telephone or videoconference. The issues we wish to discuss with FSA and NRCS revolve around several programs, including:
- Conservation Reserve Program
- Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
- Regional Conservation Partnership Program
- Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
Why did we delay the trip to DC?
We feel an obligation to our leaders (both within the Washington Conservation Partnership and in Congress) to not expose them to the additional risk that COVID-19 presents. Of course, this also means we are not exposing others to potential risk, including those we would travel with and those at our destination.
WACD also feels that our key conservation messages may become overshadowed by COVID-19 concerns once people recognize that many of us had flown from the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, with King County as the current epicenter for COVID-19 in the United States.
There may be benefits to delaying
Delaying is not cancelling. WACD remains committed to communicating our conservation concerns and ideas to national leaders.
The widespread concern about COVID-19 caused WACD to delay our scheduled trip to Washington D.C. but this may work to our benefit. First, we believe that communicating to leaders the reasons for delaying our trip will be memorable and appreciated. Second, scheduling in-person visits when congressional folks are in Washington State will likely give us more time with these decision makers. We should also be able to arrange field visits and conversations with people on the ground that will help illustrate the importance of our concerns.
We invite discussion
WACD recognizes that some of our members may not agree with the decision to delay our participation in the Spring Fly-In. We invite discussion by members and conservation partners in the Washington Conservation Network forum. You may also send feedback directly to WACD Executive Director Tom Salzer at firstname.lastname@example.org.