The Wallowa County Soil and Water Conservation District voted to retain its current slate of officers for the upcoming year when they met at the first meeting of 2003 Monday afternoon at the extension office in Enterprise. Jim Dawson was re-elected as chairman, Alan Klages as vice chairman and Rod Childers as secretary/treasurer.

The 14 persons in attendance also re-appointed Mac Birkmaier and Pat Wortman as associate directors.

Much of the meeting revolved around discussion of the USDA's Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQUIP) as a prelude to a local action group EQUIP meeting set for Wednesday. At that meeting the levels and practices of cost sharing under the program were to be discussed in depth.

Tom Smith of the Natural Resources Conservation Service led Monday's discussion with input provided by Ron Alvarado of the NRCS's La Grande office.

Smith shared an EQUIP ranking worksheet which included twelve resource concerns in Wallowa County. At a previous SWCD meeting the twelve had been prioritized by importance to the community with #12 as the highest rated and #1 the lowest. The highest rated resource concern was water management-irrigated land and the lowest resource concern wind erosion. The form is used as a scoresheet to grade applicants to the EQUIP program with the highest score becoming first in line to receive what is estimated to be a total of $200,000 in EQUIP money for distribution within the county.

Childers suggested that the estimated $200,000 will not go far and encouraged a lower cost share percentage when the issue was to be discussed at length on Wednesday.

Smith said after Monday's meeting that the district and local government are the decision makers on how the EQUIP program is to be implemented locally.

Extension agent John Williams gave a brief overview of the confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) rules and regulations which were just released Dec. 16 by the federal government.

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