Letter to the editor

Dear Crook County Residents,

The CCNRD would like to thank Crook County citizens for their past support and we ask for your continued support by voting yes for the conservation funding initiative. We would like to take this opportunity to explain why we will again be going on the ballot.

CCNRD is a grass roots organization with a publically elected board that is in place to help shape conservation in Crook County. The Board can shape the way federal dollars and programs in the areas of natural resources, conservation, and agriculture are implemented in our community. We are able to influence the policies set by federal agencies as they relate to natural resources locally. Our mission is to bring your voice to the table to make sure that our community’s values, culture and tax base are represented.

Currently CCNRD is reliant on funding it receives from competitive outside grants. The grants come from various sources, i.e. private, state, and federal, but they are project specific. These funds have allowed the District to combat the mountain pine beetle, implement water development/water improvement projects, provide valuable education to assist ranches in maintaining profitability and most recently help landowners take preventative measures to protect property from catastrophic fires.

Our current grants benefit Crook County; however, their specificity dictates where our staff spend their time. A mill levy will help provide more flexible funding.

The CCNRD receives annual base funding from the county commissioners in the amount of $45,000. This is the only flexible funding that we have, and it is used to cover basic/mandatory expenses for the District (utilities, dues, insurance, etc.) as well as expenses associated with the Electronic Recycling events. If a mill levy was secured this base funding would be returned to the County Commissioners’ budget.

Although, the CCNRD has been diligent at securing grant funding we are facing a NEW challenge—grantors have changed the way they allocate funding. They are no longer willing to give us grant money up front.

Instead, we are required to spend our own money on projects prior to seeking reimbursement. We have always been dependent on receiving grant money up front to conduct projects. Without upfront grant monies we will no longer be able to offer multiple cost share programs at once. A mill levy will help us build a bank account to cash flow existing grants; as well as expand our services to meet community needs.

The mil levy is vital to the continuation of current programs or future services. Expansion of services and projects would continue to be landowner driven and tailored to meet the specific natural resource concerns that are deemed important by the citizens of Crook County.

These dollars would also add to our local economy and contribute to the County sales tax revenues. We look forward to improving natural resources and serving residents outside of the previously designated priorities dictated by grantors.

Local leadership is essential in a time when many groups with, very limited knowledge or experience, are trying to influence the use of federal lands and money to impact natural resources. It is crucial that Crook County residents have a voice at the table.

A voice to make sure our interests are being protected in federal processes, and local knowledge and expertise in natural resources is heard. Please vote yes to help the CCNRD secure mil levy funding to ensure that the citizens of Crook County have a voice and the support to sustain our natural resource base for future generations to come.

Humbly serving Crook County,

CCNRD Board of Supervisors

Wayne Garman, Ted Parsons, Jennifer Hinkhouse, Wanda Burget and Lily Altaffer