The Guilford County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors isn’t known for generating excitement, but that’s exactly what newly elected member Josh Myers and some other board members are trying to produce in 2019.
The board, which works with local farmers and other property owners in Guilford County to promote soil conservation as well as practices that keep water clean, meets on the first Wednesday of every month – and, at Myers’ very first meeting as a new member, the board, at his request, voted for him to be a liaison with the state so that he can attempt to get more money directed toward Guilford County for conservation purposes.
Myers said the work of the board is very important but he added that right now those efforts are underfunded.
“They’re trying to do a lot of great work with no money,” Myers said.
The group gets funding from several sources – the state, the federal government and private grants – and it works hard to see that the effect of that money is maximized. Myers said there are a lot of excellent conservation projects proposed in Guilford County but currently the soil and water board can only select a small percentage of those to fund.
The board used to have more money to work with but now it may only see $100,000 or so in some years. He said other counties get access to more funds and he thinks Guilford County can as well if it plays its cards right.
Myers, who manages a financial firm as his day job, said his first meeting went well.
“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “They were laid back and personable.”
The board has another newly elected member, Anna Gerringer Amoriello, but she’s no stranger to the five-member board. Amoriello started going to meetings in 2011, was named an “associate,” non-voting member in 2012 and was appointed as a voting member in April of 2017. Last month, the county’s voters put her back in that seat.
Amoriello said the work is a lot of fun sometimes.
“I’m a farmer so I like to see new things,” she said. “It’s pretty interesting to see the projects.”
Amoriello said, for instance, UNCG has a water collection program that gathers rainwater and distributes it to a plant irrigation system.
She said the board does important work like overseeing grants and supporting innovative ways to protect the soil and keep lakes and rivers clean.
“We make sure the money appropriated is spent where it needs to be spent,” she said.
Amoriello said the board does other things like pick which students with an interest in conservation get to go to Raleigh each year for the Research Conservation Workshop.
She said that much of the work can be less than glamorous –like making sure manure applications are done in the right way and at the right time of day.
Millie Langely, a staff soil conservationist for the board, works with Jamey Walker, the soil technician, and Kyleene Rooks, the education coordinator to carry out the board’s programs.
Langley said the structure of the group can be difficult to grasp since conservation has local, state and federal players.
“It’s quite complicated,” she said. “Most of the money is from the state, and we have a federal partner.”
She said the work of the group is also very diverse in nature.
“There’s a lot of issues,” she said.
She added that water pollution in Guilford County is now a major concern as a result of more and more urbanization in the county.
The soil and water board also does things like oversee educational conservation initiatives in public and private schools and help farmers whose roads are destroyed by hurricanes.