This month the Laramie Rivers Conservation District was awarded the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance’s “Member of the Month”.
We sat down with the director, Tony Hoch amidst his busy schedule of organizing the Laramie Conservation Expo, protecting Albany county’s water sources, and providing community gardening programs to help K-12 kids (and adults) learn about the importance of water resources, conservation, and habitats.
The mission of Laramie Rivers Conservation District is to “provide leadership for the conservation of Albany County’s soil, water, and all other natural resources; preserve and enhance wildlife habitat; protect the tax base; and promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens of Albany county through responsible conservation ethic.” The agency was formed 75 years ago after the Dust Bowl as a way to support local farmers and ranchers with knowledge, tools, and funding to keep working lands working. With only 4 members of staff and 5 Board of Supervisors, it’s a big responsibility.
If you live in town, you may not be fully aware of the effects of our water shortage. “Our water shortage is one of our biggest challenges,” explained Tony. “That’s why we are heavily involved in the Pilot Hill Project, to help protect the Casper aquifer. We also help ranchers with their water and range management, and people in town with low-water landscaping.”
One of the programs LRCD provides is a “Cost Share” program. Some of the projects include: installing solar run pumps for remote livestock water tanks, installing drip irrigation systems, and helping home-owners with purchasing rain barrel catchments. LRCD currently monitors water quality on the Big Laramie and Little Laramie Rivers as well as offers assistance through the Cost Share program to address water quality issues. Some projects that LRCD has provided technical and financial support on include: stream restoration projects (including the large Laramie River Restoration Project), riparian area fencing to keep livestock out of vulnerable areas, and general water tests/analysis costs.
In addition to water conservation, LRCD had many soil projects. “The health of the soil is a key concern for agriculture producers whose livelihoods depend on good land management.” Grazing management plans, assistance and funding for range land cross fencing to eliminate overgrazing, seeding recommendations, funding for stock watering systems, are some of the many programs LRCD is involved in. “We are also involved in creating living snow fences throughout Albany County.”
“Projects I am most proud of,” Tony explains, “are the Laramie Midwest Refinery Restoration project and the Laramie River Restoration. Also I’m proud of the many programs we are doing with K-12 kids since they are the future of conservation.”
Advice for Laramie Businesses: “I think it’s important for business owners to become involved in the community and know what is going on within Laramie.” Hoch explained, “By knowing what is happening locally transfers to buying local and helping the tax base.”
To learn more about the LRCD programs, visit www.lrcd.net. The applications for the cost-share program can be found on their website and are reviewed monthly.
Laramie Rivers Conservation District
5015 Stone Rd., Ste. 1
Laramie, WY 82070-5915