WACD Testimony on HB 1720 on Riparian Areas
On Tuesday, February 7, 2023, WACD Executive Director Tom Salzer testified in favor of House Bill 1720 concerning the protection and restoration of riparian areas.
WACD testimony on HB 1720
Good morning, Chair Chapman, Vice Chair Morgan, and all members of the Committee. For the record, my name is Tom Salzer and I serve Washington’s 45 conservation districts as Executive Director of the Washington Association of Conservation Districts.
WACD is signed in as PRO on House Bill 1720. We are very pleased with the expression of confidence in voluntary conservation and in the collaborative way the bill language was developed.
The State Conservation Commission is the right entity to create and implement a riparian grant program because of the multiple entities represented on the Commission and because of the strong, trust-based relationships conservation districts have with landowners. We depend on landowners to actually implement conservation practices on their land, and that requires trust and commitment by all parties. I just can’t imagine any regulatory agency being effective in designing and running such a program.
WACD believes that any evaluation or assessment of a riparian grant program should be reported to the implementing agency, that is, to the Commission, with a copy to the Governor and to the Legislature. This would encourage more nimble adaptive management as potential improvements come to light.
HB 1720 allows the Commission to implement a good-better-best system of riparian improvements that we anticipate will help strike a productive balance between landowner needs, local site conditions, and improved riparian habitats.
We are sure that HB 1720 will move the dial in a positive direction on this key natural resource and societal issue. On that basis, WACD is happy to support this legislation.
I thank you.