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Catawba County Soil and Water Conservation District board members and staff were recognized as the Outstanding Conservation District for Fiscal Year 2022/2023 by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) during the Feb. 5 Catawba County Board of Commissioners meeting. Pictured L-R: Board member Bill Shillito, Board Chair Steve Killian, Soil Conservationist Blake Henley, District Administrator Randy Willis, Administrative Assistant Leia Hamlyn, board member Brandon Bowman, board member Julia Elmore, and NRCS Team 5 Supervisory Soil Conservationist Jim Propst.

Catawba Soil & Water Conservation District Receives Award

The Catawba County Soil & Water Conservation District received the Outstanding Conservation District Award for Fiscal Year 2022/2023 from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The award was presented by Jim Propst, NRCS Team 5 Supervisory Soil Conservationist, during the Catawba County Board of Commissioners’ meeting Monday (February 5).

The Outstanding Conservation District Award recognizes a conservation district that has made significant contributions to conservation and the proper management of the nation’s natural resources. The Catawba County district was recognized for its high level of customer service, innovative problem-solving, and above-and-beyond efforts to assist local landowners and colleagues in other districts with a variety of complex projects.

The nomination cited several specific examples of excellence, including the district’s recent involvement in the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Streamside Rehabilitation Assistance Program (StRAP). This program removes debris blockages from streams to prevent floodwaters from damaging land and property and posing a threat to life.

To implement this project locally, the Catawba County district utilized its drone over various streams to identify blockages and developed a priority list based on assessed damage. The district received an allocation of $282,400 to address these areas and has begun working with contractors to remove the blockages.

Other examples included the district’s procurement of a grant to help protect an eroding stream bank at the Hickory Foundation YMCA, and assistance with local dairy management system project that allowed the landowner to expand and almost double his herd while also protecting the environment and nearby stream system.

The Catawba County Soil & Water Conservation District works to ensure a quality urban and rural environment with clean water, protected soil resources, properly managed forest and wildlife, and an environmentally, economically and culturally viable agricultural community. The district works with local, state and federal agencies to address natural resource concerns. For more information about the Catawba County Soil & Water District, visit the Catawba County website at or call (828) 465-8950.