Local Conservationist, Jim Spear Named to Regional Post
Jim Spear, District Conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Weaverville, has been named Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations for Area 1 (northern California) and will soon be moving to Red Bluff.
Spear has been a valued leader in conservation efforts throughout Trinity County during his 18 years here, helping many landowners improve their lands and personally nurturing a spirit of cooperation here among federal, state and local agencies. By all accounts, he is one of the people most responsible for bringing heads together to make good things happen. Such collaborations have led to innovative agreements, greater efficiencies, and leveraged more funding to get more work done on private and public lands throughout the entire Trinity River watershed. That approach has garnered national recognition for its effectiveness.
The Trinity County Resource Conservation District (RCD) works in close partnership with the Weaverville office of NRCS, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the mission of “Helping People Help the Land.” The RCD relies on NRCS specialists in soils, engineering, revegetation and fisheries in order to provide conservation guidance and services to Trinity County landowners.
During his time here with NRCS, Spear has been instrumental in the growth and success of the RCD by advocating for its involvement in larger projects like the Trinity River and Grass Valley Creek restoration programs. “I am very proud of the organization the RCD is today and how critical it has become to this community,” Spear said, “and I’m proud of the partnership our two organizations enjoy.”
Bob Lowden, Superintendent of Weaverville Elementary School District, pointed out Spear was instrumental in pulling together community resources to create the annual Environmental Education Camp for sixth graders at Bar 717 Ranch near Hyampom and has also taught the soils courses there. “He has really made a difference in the lives of many young people in Weaverville,” Lowden said.
Spear also helped organize the Trinity County Resource Conservation and Development Council in 1993, (now the Northwest California RC & D Council) a volunteer-led entity focused on sustainable economic and community development throughout the region. It ordinarily takes several years to win approval from the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to form a new RC& D council, but Spear got approval and funding in just six months after submitting the application. That council now serves Trinity, Del Norte and Humboldt counties.
Spear graduated from Cal Poly, Pomona in 1981 with a degree in Soil Science and immediately took a job with the NRCS. In 1990 NRCS assigned him to Weaverville as a soil conservationist and watershed project leader and in 1992 made him District Conservationist. He has seen considerable change during his tenure. The dramatic growth of the RCD from one part-time employee in 1990 to 25 employees in 1993 was due to Spear serving as NRCS representative on the Trinity River Task Force. He put forward the RCD as the best entity to manage and administer the multi-million dollar restoration of Grass Valley Creek, a project that greatly increased the capacity of the District to handle large projects and partner on others.
RCD Chairperson Colleen O’Sullivan explained Spear will be missed for his sense of humor, innovative thinking and low-key approach. “He found myriad ways to apply NRCS programs up and down our county,” she said. “He always contributed ideas and strategies, but in a way that did not call attention to himself.