Mr. Eno Goes to Washington: August Edition

By: Amos S. Eno
Posted on:08/18/2014 Updated:10/29/2014

Monday, August 4

Arriving in D.C. at 2:30, I promptly headed for the Dirksen Senate building to meet with Lynn Tjeerdsma, the Senior Policy Advisor for Senator Thune, on the recommendation of Jeff Trandahl, CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). Tjeerdsma was formerly the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs at the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), and apparently did much of the heavy lifting in the Senate for creating conservation provisions in the recent Farm Bill, and closely worked across the aisle with Chris Adamo of Senator Stabenow's staff on the Ag Committee.

Thune represents South Dakota, which is a huge prairie Ag state and NFWF is going to be initiating grants there. Having previously worked for the FSA, Tjeerdsma fully grasped the importance of PLN and our other websites for rural consumers of conservation information. This was a great connection.

That evening, I met with Brian Seasholes of Reason Foundation. He has been hosting monthly conference calls on Endangered Species Act (ESA) and on strategies to make the Act and on the ground programs more effective. I walked him through our new Conservation Habitat Management Portal (CMHP) and emphasized the changing landscape wherein states are going to be more and more important in delivering on the ground solutions for species conservation, particularly for listings of species that largely inhabit private land, such as lesser prairie chicken, sage grouse, and Sprague’s pipit.

Tuesday, August 5

Next day I drove to Richmond to meet the Virginia’s new Deputy Director of Agriculture and Forestry, Travis Hill, and Deputy Director of Natural Resources, Evan Fineman, to brief them on our impending build of the Virginia Conservation Center (VCC).

When we build a new state wide conservation center the first step is to figure out how to display a map of the state for aggregating information resources. Do you map the state by counties, as we did California and Maine? Or if the state’s counties are too small and thinly populated do you use ecological geography, such as an NRCS map of ecoregions, as we did in the states of Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and are currently working on in Texas?

Rather than deciding for ourselves from our office in Maine, I always ask those who know the state’s private landowners and their conservation needs best. The Virginia folks recommended dividing the VCC into 7 zones: Shenandoah, Southwest Virginia (west of Roanoke), Central Virginia, Piedmont (Richmond, Charlottesville, Lynchburg), Hampton Roads, and NOVA (four urban counties, including Arlington, Fairfax and Alexandria). They also advised that soil and water conservation districts were the primary drivers of conservation efforts in the state.

After those meetings, I had lunch with Marshall Acuff who was a longtime supporter while I was Executive Director at NFWF. I haven't laid eyes on him since the day after I walked out the door in Washington in December, 1999. In those days, Marshall was a senior VP at Smith Barney. In 2000, he moved to Richmond, and after several years of retirement, he was enticed back into the wealth management /investment business. He is one of the best.

Wednesday, August 6

Back in DC, I met with the staff of US Chamber of Commerce to brief them on RFF's information assets. We now host close to 35,000 small businesses on our national and state sites and I thought it high time to make the US Chamber aware of our activities and our problem solving sites like CHMP.

Finally I did a lunch with a major foundation which is considering a grant to RFF to support our Lone Star Conservation Connection in Texas and potentially a project in Colorado as well.

After a hectic three days, it was wonderful to land back in Portland, go home and jump off the dock to get cool!

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re: Mr. Eno Goes to Washington: August Edition
By: Tom Reynolds on: 10/29/2014

I would be interested in knowing your stance on developing action by the US Forest Service, in an Interpretive Rule, to require more accountability in Special Permits to pump groundwater. Does PLN agree that the watersheds are by-and-large expanses of Federal forests, and that Forest Managers are fully responsible for recognizing the inter-connectedness of surface-and groundwater, and required by Congress to prevent degradation of the functions watersheds provide?