Thursday, June 20, 2024

Bridgeport City Council welcomes Foster Creek Conservation District

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BRIDGEPORT – Two presentations opened the regular monthly meeting of the city council on Wednesday, May 15. 

Qristian Solorio, Chief of the Bridgeport Volunteer Fire Department, brought the council up to speed with a current report about fire staff, vehicles, and equipment. Solorio said two new recruits are in training and should be crew-ready by July. He also asked Public Works Superintendent Stuart Dezellem about the correct procedure for checking each city hydrant to ensure all are in working condition.

Foster Creek Conservation District (FCCD) Coordinator Jackson Moody followed up on a previous visit by co-worker Desiree Elliott to the Bridgeport Planning Commission on May 2. Moody began by clarifying that FCCD is based in Waterville and serves the northern half of Douglas County from Mansfield north and that Bridgeport is the largest city within its boundaries,

“We serve the community through quality technical assistance for natural resource stewardship,” said Moody. “We do that by offering a variety of programs across five different focus areas.” 

Those areas include:

  • Agricultural liability
  • Habitat preservation and enhancement
  • Wildfire recovery and resilience
  • Watershed resilience
  • Community education

“We offer a variety of programs that help offset the cost for farmers who want to implement regenerative practices,” said Moody. “One is a direct seed cost-share program that helps farmers switch to no-till agriculture to help cut down erosion and build soil health.”

FCCD has been working with some producers that are trying Sorghum in their fields as a commodity and to improve soil health. FCCD has been offering those crop innovators free soil testing.

“We have a grant from the Washington Shrub Steppe Resiliency and Recovery Initiative that is paying to replace a lot of the things that got burned in the 2020 Pearl Hill fire,” Moody said.

Last year, FCCD replaced 6.5 miles of fence.

“We already started helping producers replace 35 miles of fence this year at no cost to the producer, a 100 percent cost-share and wildlife-friendly program,” said Moody. “It has a smooth top and bottom wire easier for wildlife to go over and under.”

Fire resilience primarily involves noxious weed management.

“I was working with the Bureau of Land Management, Nature Conservancy, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife to manage some of the noxious weeds on their land,” Moody said.

FCCD also addresses Foster Creek stream restoration projects.

“Last year, we installed 154 in-stream structures that are designed to let fish pass upstream but slow the water down to create more habitat and allow for ponding,” said Moody. “That lets the water soak into the bank and makes it easier for those banks to support trees and other bank life.”

FCCD collaborated with the Red Cross in Mansfield to help educate homeowners on how to make their properties more fire-resistant. 

Council member Matt Schuh said that would be a helpful program to bring to Bridgeport since the city lost homes to the Pearl Hill fire.

FCCD recently hosted an Envirothon near Bridgeport that drew teams from North Central Washington, including several from the Bridgeport school, to compete and share their enviro knowledge.

Council member Jackie Hentges asked if FCCD could bring a tree and shrub distribution or sale day to Bridgeport, similar to one she heard about in Waterville. Moody said that was not an FCCD project, but he would contact that group to see if they could bring it to Bridgeport.

To learn more about the Foster Creek Conservation District, visit its website, fostercreekCD.org.

Mike Maltais: 360-333-8483 or michael@ward.media

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