Promote the sustainable use and conservation of natural resources by facilitating technical and financial assistance to district cooperators. The District is committed to conserving our ecological heritage through interactive promotion of educational activities and outreach.
The Verde Natural Resource Conservation District is managed by a five-member Board of Supervisors. Three of those members are elected for staggered six-year terms, elections are held every two years. The remaining Supervisors, at the recommendation of the District, are appointed by the State Land Commissioner. The appointed Supervisors serve for two years. All meetings of the Board are subject to the Open Meeting Law. Agendas are currently posted in the Camp Verde Community Library and on the Verde NRCD website.
The current board consists of the following community members:
Chip Norton is a third-generation Arizonan and has served as a supervisor for the Verde NRCD since 2010. Chip is co-owner of Salt Mine Vineyards, a boutique vineyard located in Camp Verde, Arizona. In addition to the Verde NRCD Chip serves as a volunteer on several nonprofit municipal and county boards and commissions. He is an advocate for community based solutions to conservation challenges.
Chris Jensen is a retired educator and Navy veteran who has lived in the Verde Valley since 2001. Chris also serves on the board of the Verde River Valley Nature Organization. He volunteers at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Tuzigoot and Montezuma Well National Monument, He is a member of the Friends of the Verde River and an is an avid outdoorsman.
Claudia Hauser is a native Arizonan that entered into agriculture when she married her late husband, Kevin Hauser. She now, with her children, proudly farms over 700 acres in Camp Verde. The crops raised by Hauser and Hauser Farms include: sweet corn, alfalfa and wheat hay, watermelons, pecans, field corn and malt barley, where the farm is in partnership with Chip Norton of Sinagua Malt. With this partnership, the farm has been saving irrigation water through a crop conversion (alfalfa to barley) and leaving water in the Verde River.
Claudia is a newly appointed supervisor for the Verde NRCD and hopes to be involved in future water saving projects and helping the community educate themselves when it comes to irrigation. Agriculture is her passion as she understands the importance of water conservation along with agriculture land preservation so everyone will have an abundant, healthy food supply for generations to come.
Brenda Hauser is well known in the Verde Valley having served on the Camp Verde Town Council as both a councilmember and as Mayor. It was Brenda’s idea to, as a newly arrived resident in Camp Verde, plant corn and the family farm is now famous for the crop throughout the state. Brenda joined the Verde NRCD as a supervisor in the fall of 2016. She serves with MATFORCE, working to reduce substance abuse in Yavapai County. She worked as a nurse in Yavapai County for over 20 years and remains active in a variety of community activities.
Nancy Higginbotham (bio coming)
Natural Resource Conservation District History
Toward the end of the 19th century, concern was beginning to build about soil loss due to wind and water erosion in our nation. In 1898, the first soil survey of the United States was conducted. Soil scientist Hugh Hammond Bennett was so concerned that he published a pamphlet, “Soil Erosion, A National Menace”, and testified before Congress. His testimony resulted in some of the first funding to fight the deteriorating natural resource base and established soil erosion experiment stations in various locations around the United States. However, no national program was established. Congress continued to be complacent on the need to address resource management concerns – until April 14, 1935.
Black Sunday, as the date is more commonly known, marked the culmination of the period known as The Dust Bowl. This was one of our country’s worst ecological disasters in history. It was a defining moment in time when America’s government and its farmers realized that food production and westward settlement could not take place at the expense of our life-giving resources – soil and water. The Black Sunday storm left a layer of Panhandle dust across the desk of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. That same year, Congress unanimously passed The Soil Conservation Act (Public Law 46) establishing the Soil Conservation Service (SCS). The SCS is known today as the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Although these were giant leaps in conservation, it quickly became apparent that for conservation practices to be effective on the three-fourths of the continental United States that were privately held lands, decisions needed to be made at the local level by concerned citizens. Most importantly, participation in government sponsored programs by private landowners had to be voluntary not regulatory in nature. There needed to be a liaison to bridge the gap of mistrust between the farmer and the government. Conservation districts were the answer.
Each state was provided model language and encouraged to draft and pass enabling legislation that would establish and provide certain authorities to local units of government known today as Natural Resource Conservation Districts (NRCDs) in Arizona. NRCDs were established in Arizona in 1941 and are codified in Arizona Revised Statues Title 37, Chapter 6. NRCD Law authorities districts to: Provide for the restoration and conservation of lands and soil resources of the state, the preservation of water rights and the control and prevention of soil erosion, and thereby to conserve natural resources, conserve wildlife, protect the tax base, protect public lands and protect and restore this state’s rivers and streams and associated riparian habitats, including fish and wildlife resources that are dependent on those habitats, and in such manner to protect and promote the public health, safety and general welfare of the people. (A.R.S. § 37-1001)
In the beginning of their history, Arizona’s NRCDs main responsibility was to serve as gateways for individuals to receive technical assistance and cost share programs from the USDA NRCS. Then, as is now, the NRCDs also prioritized natural resource concerns for that agency. In recent years, however, Arizona’s NRCDs have experienced a paradigm shift in their roles and accepted more of their 5 5 responsibilities that are outlined in state and federal legislation. Such responsibilities include exercising their authority to coordinate and cooperate with federal agencies regarding district plans and increasing their communication with cities, towns, and other local entities to develop plans that benefit the greater good of their districts. Public benefits include enhanced natural resources, which help sustain agricultural productivity and environmental quality, thereby supporting continued economic development, recreation, and scenic beauty.
Arizona’s NRCDs are established as quasi political subdivisions of the State, organized by vote of the landowners within each district, and managed by a five member locally elected and appointed board of supervisors. The district boards have the responsibility for determining the resource conservation needs of their district, for developing and coordinating long range plans and programs of natural resource conservation, and for implementing them under their district’s annual plans of operations with technical assistance from the USDA NRCS, universities, AZ Game and Fish, and other similar entities. Districts work with many organizations, agencies, and individuals to accomplish soil and water conservation. Today, Arizona has 32 NRCDs administered by Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) NRCD Program and 10 Conservation Districts authorized under Tribal Law.