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Limited Number of Free Mobile Irrigation Lab Evaluations Available Through June 30

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Landowners who want to improve irrigation system effectiveness are invited to request a Mobile Irrigation Lab (MIL) evaluation from the Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District (CSLRCD). The evaluation, which measures Distribution Uniformity, monitors system flows and pressures in order to pinpoint specific problem areas and provide constructive solutions to improve system function and water application rates.

A limited number of free MIL evaluations are available through June 30, 2017. Call (805) 772-4391 or email cslrcd@coastalrcd.org for more details and to schedule your evaluation. 


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Above: CSLRCD President Neil Havlik (right foreground) congratulates John Swift as the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors look on. 

Los Osos Landowner John Swift Honored for Conservation Efforts 


John Swift of Los Osos received the Conservationist of the Year Award from the CSLRCD for making outstanding conservation-related improvements to his ranch. The presentation took place Tuesday, March 7, at the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors' chambers. The Supervisors also awarded Swift a Certificate of Recognition.

In the early 1980s, Swift began farming in Clark Canyon and created Swift Subtropicals on the 600-acre Bear Creek Ranch. The operation specializes in subtropical fruits, heirloom vegetables and grass-fed beef. A holistic rotational grazing strategy is used to both manage a herd of 40 longhorn-angus cross cattle and to create healthy native grasslands and oak woodlands. Swift values sustainability and biodiversity and strives to promote native grasslands and the overall health of his land.

“My passion for conservation goes way back to my undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley in the newly created interdisciplinary program CNR, Conservation of Natural Resources,” Swift said. “The diversity and legacy of my ranch has been enhanced greatly over the years with thoughtful conservation.

“At the headwaters of Los Osos Creek and striving to be a good steward of the land, we began with a gully conversion to a grassy waterway project, which the Soil Conservation Service (now called the NRCS) designed and implemented with the CSLRCD. Several stream bank stabilization projects followed, trying to reduce sediment from ending up in the Morro Bay National Estuary.”

Although not the first of its kind on John Swift's ranch, another streambank stabilization project was successfully implemented on a portion of Los Osos Creek that runs through his property during November 2016. As a result, the streambank and stream channel were stabilized. It is estimated that 758 tons of sediment will be prevented from entering Los Osos Creek as a result. This project involved immense coordination between the CSLRCD and John Swift as well among various regulatory agencies, watershed partners and contractors. Leading up to implementation, various surveys and site visits were held.

“Despite all of the coordination and potential hiccups leading to actual project implementation, John was receptive, engaged and welcoming,” said CSLRCD Conservation Programs Manager Jen Nix. “John was always willing to work with us through the challenges to ensure we got all of the project elements in the ground and were out of the creek just in time for the start of the rains. Without John's cooperation, this project would have remained plans on paper.”

The project involved installation of a boulder weir, boulder toe protection, soil lifts and root wads in an effort to protect the creek from future incision, protect a rail car bridge spanning the creek, and enhance habitat for sensitive resources such as steelhead trout and California redlegged frogs.

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Above: John Swift stands atop the cut bank with others while observing a portion of the completed Los Osos Creek Bank Stabilization Project in January 2017. All of the project elements (boulder protection, large wood structures, soil lifts) have performed as intended during this winter's storms.


Watershed Stewardship Program (WSP) Works to Make a Difference

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Since fall 2016, the CSLRCD has participated in the WatershedStewards Program (WSP), a community based watershed restoration, education and outreach program. The CSLRCD's WSP member has had the opportunity to partner with organizations throughout San Luis Obispo County to expand stream-monitoring efforts, implement restoration projects and organize outreach events.

The San Luis Obispo Creek Restoration Day was held February 26, 2017, in partnership with the California Native Plant Society and the City of SLO. More than 30 volunteers and WSP members came together to remove invasive species and plant native riparian plants along the banks of SLO Creek near Mission Plaza. This event built upon work done at previous restoration events to improve the habitat and health of the creek.

WSP members from CSLRCD and Upper Salinas-Las Tablas RCD worked together to teach the Wonders of Watersheds education series to 50 third and fourth graders at Cappy Culver Elementary School. The series involves lessons and hand-on activities about watersheds, salmonids and conservation. The WSP members are grateful for the opportunity to work with these kids and see watersheds through their eyes.


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 At the March 21, 2017, Board of Supervisors hearing, the Supervisors unanimously decided that all new agricultural ponds, that are groundwater fed, are to be permitted through the county process and not the Alternative Review Program (ARP), which allows the resource conservation districts (RCDs) to do the processing. This decision stems from a controversy in the North County over grading violations.

Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District spoke in support of the staff’s recommendation to allow the RCDs to process agricultural ponds that are 5 acre-feet or less. We explained that our RCD has an internal policy for approving pond permits or sending the applicant back to the county
for processing; has a board and staff with capacity to provide this service, including CEQA; and, to date, we have had no problems in our review and permitting of agricultural ponds.

To our disappointment, the Supervisors chose not to allow the RCDs to process any agricultural ponds that are groundwater fed, regardless of size. It was the issue of groundwater pumping and its effect on neighbors that drove the ultimate vote. We understand this concern, and we will continue our efforts in working with landowners and municipalities in conserving water—Storm Rewards Rebate Program, development of stormwater plans, drought-tolerant ranchland, and other projects.

Note: For the agricultural community who wants to build a pond to capture rainwater, such as a stock pond, you can still go through the ARP that is processed through the RCDs. 


Join the Team at CSLRCD --

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For more than 50 years, the Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District has been helping landowners with soil and water conservation projects and education that protect the creeks and rivers leading into Morro Bay, Oso Flaco Lake and the Cuyama River.

The seven-member volunteer Board of Directors currently has a vacancy. Anyone interested in serving on the Board or interested in the RCD and its work, please see the Board Director job description (below) or call the RCD office at (805) 772-4391.

Letters of interest addressed to the Board of Directors at the CSL RCD office should be received by September 22, 2016; please send to 1203 Main Street Suite B, Morro Bay, CA 93442.  

Board Director Job Description Candidates must be registered voters in California and must reside in the District or own property in the District. Directors are either elected or appointed by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors and serve a four-year term. There are no limits on the number of terms. Directors receive no compensation, but can be reimbursed for pre-approved travel and other associated expenses when conducting work of the District.

Board Members are expected to: • Be interested in local conservation issues and willing to learn about them • Attend monthly Board meetings • Participate in District policy and program development • Provide financial guidance and oversight • Provide guidance and direction to staff and maintain fair and equitable personnel policies

Qualifications: • Understand the need for conservation of soil, water and other natural resources. Other qualifications that may be helpful are:      a) Environmental awareness      b) Skills in conduct of meetings and parliamentary procedure      c) Technical background in environmental sciences or agriculture

Other Requirements: • Complete ethics training (available on-line) • Complete Statement of Economic Interests (FPPC Form 700) upon assuming position, annually, and upon leaving position

For further information about the seven member Board of Directors: • Visit the Coastal San Luis RCD website: www.coastalrcd.org • Call the CSL RCD office: 805-772-4391




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Board of Directors Meeting

Board of Directors Meeting
12:30 Friday, August 25, at UCCE Auditorium, SLO