Special Message for Members and Partners

The action taken by the State Conservation Commission last week came as a surprise to everyone.

It was difficult for Commissioners to make that choice. I have seen this kind of thing happen before so I know how much it eats at the people who decided. It is very hard on each and every one of them.

It is also difficult and unsettling for the rest of us: Commission staff, CD board members and staff, and partners. At a time when the largest budget for Commission and conservation district programs is on the table, all of us feel this sudden vacuum in leadership. All of us worry about the impact this change may have on the trust and confidence legislators have in the Commission and conservation districts.

Photo of Ron Shultz
Ron Shultz

I write to reassure you that legislators hold the Commission and conservation districts in high regard. Despite several attempts to carve out some of the riparian restoration funds for other entities or purposes, legislators have continued to express confidence in Washington State’s conservation delivery system. I do not see this changing anytime soon. As long as we stay focused on providing superb, seamless service to landowners and resource users, that confidence won’t erode.

Of course, all of us want to know: what happens next? This week, the Conservation Commission’s Policy Director, Ron Shultz, is also the Acting Interim Executive Director of the Commission. The ship has a captain. It is not rudderless. Ron brings deep experience and knowledge to this role and I have full confidence in his ability to keep the Commission moving forward. WACD will help whenever and wherever we can.

Meanwhile, the Commission is looking for an Interim Executive Director. We’ll know more about that by this time next week, if not sooner. How to find the next permanent Executive Director has not yet been decided but it’s a topic the Commission will need to take up soon.

During this unsettled time, please be patient and supportive with Commissioners and Commission staff. Have compassion for the turmoil they are experiencing as they work through the challenges facing them over the next several weeks or months.

This is a moment when we can spend energy looking backward or invest energy in looking to the future together. I encourage you to lean forward toward building an even better future for our entire community and the people served.

Always yours for conservation,

Tom Salzer, WACD Executive Director