GETTING CONSERVATION “ON THE GROUND” THROUGH PRODUCTIVE PARTNERSHIPS
In order to have a more significant impact on the conservation of soil and water resources in the State of Arizona and surrounding region, it is imperative to look at natural resource issues on a landscape scale.
Conservation Districts provide a valuable resource to other government agencies and private conservation groups through their established and proven record of credibility and trust with private landowners. This relationship, along with their firsthand knowledge of the local lands and water, enables them to initiate and expand meaningful participation and successfully carry out voluntary programs with a diverse group of entities. Partnership programs combine the efforts and funding of multiple participants in order to address resource concerns that go beyond fence lines, and allow funding to go further and treat more acres.
The Bureau of Land Management launched the Healthy Lands Initiative (HIL) nationally in 2007, to accelerate land restoration, increase productivity, and improve the health of public lands in the Western United States. The Healthy Landscapes Partnership Program (HLP) in Arizona is a dynamic, long-term landscape scale, collaborative, interdisciplinary effort designed to obtain specific objectives. The primary objectives of the Arizona HLP include, but are not limited to, decreasing and/or eliminating invasive plant species, limiting shrub encroachment within native grasslands, decreasing habitat fragmentation, improving water quality and quantity, managing altered fire regimes and fuel loads.
Since 2010, the Arizona Association of Conservation Districts (AACD) has been engaged in a Cooperative Agreement with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to administer the Healthy Landscapes Partnership (HLP) in the state of Arizona. The AACD was awarded $2.5 million over a five year period (2010-2015), and has incorporated various partnership funding and in-kind service opportunities. These collaborative conservation and restoration efforts have been supported by public land users, conservation and sportsman groups, state resource agencies, and agricultural interests.
By administering this program through the AACD and the local Conservation and restoration efforts have been successfully applied at a landscape-level scale on a voluntary basis for willing participants.