HANCOCK – The Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) is seeking candidates to run for its board of directors.
On Saturday morning, the board met for a special meeting following the resignation of former member Lydia Lytle.
Lytle, who served on the board for nearly two years, submitted a letter of resignation last week. In that letter, Lytle explained that she was quitting because her husband had taken a job out of state and she and her family were leaving the area.
“We appreciate the nearly two years that Lydia has served on the board,” said HKCD chairwoman Gina Nicholas. “She will be missed and we wish her and her family the best of luck.”
HKCD is now encouraging those interested in participating in the work of the Conservation District to apply for the vacant position on its five-member Board of Directors.
The election will take place on April 21 at HKCD’s annual meeting. In addition to the vacancy, there are also two board members in place for re-election.
“Anyone who cares about natural resources, agriculture, gardening, forestry or public lands should consider running for the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District Board of Directors,” said Nicholas.
“To be a candidate, you must be a resident of Houghton or Keweenaw counties and you must be 18 years of age or older,” she explained.
Prospective applicants must complete a nomination form, which requires the signatures of five residents of Houghton or Keweenaw counties over the age of 18.
Candidates who complete and submit their nomination forms by February 18 will be included on the ballot for the April election.
“The board usually meets about once a month and we try to limit our meetings to one to two hours,” said Nicholas. “We focus on issues and projects that impact conservation in our region.”
“Our big annual event is the tree sale, so we ask council members to participate. We also work on grants from time to time. We have several reserves and we will have work days and projects affiliated with these reserves,” she continued.
HKCD is a local government unit focused on natural resource management. Its mission is “To advise and assist the people of Houghton and Keweenaw counties to manage and use our natural resources wisely through education, information, technical assistance and land stewardship.”
“My interest, and I think the interest a lot of people would have in the district council, is to be a steward of our environment,” said board member Tom Collins.
“After the Dust Bowl, there was a lot of realization that we just can’t take resources for granted. Resources are limited, and as locals we need to see what is happening and protect the environment for there to be sustainability,” Collins continued.
State governments began establishing conservation districts in 1937 in response to the Dust Bowl, a period of severe drought and dust storms that devastated the ecology and agricultural production of much of the United States in the during the 1930s.
Recognizing the need for better resource management, states have begun to create soil and water conservation districts to help landowners maintain their soil and prevent erosion. Over time, the role of conservation districts has grown to encompass all aspects of natural resource management and conservation.
The Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District was established in 1951 to serve Houghton and Keweenaw counties under the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Over the past few years, HKCD has worked to establish and maintain several reserves, including the 5,000-acre Bete Grise Reserve, Joseph and Mary Lizzadro Lakeshore Reserve, Seneca Bat Conservation Area #3 , the Bare Bluff Shoreline Wilderness and the Pilgrim River watershed parcel.
Each spring, the district holds its annual tree sale, where a variety of fruit and evergreen trees, berry shrubs, wildflowers, and other plant species are offered to the public. The profits generated by this sale finance the operations and initiatives of the District.
Nicholas encouraged anyone interested in participating in these efforts and contributing to conservation and resource management in Houghton and Keweenaw counties to run for council.
“The Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District is open to anyone interested in participating in the wise use of our natural resources in the bi-county area,” she said.
To request a nomination form or find more information about HKCD, visit the district’s website at hkconserve.com or contact [email protected] or 906-482-0214.