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October Featured Stakeholder: Theodore Toombs

October 1, 2009
Ted Toombs, Rocky Mountain Regional Director of Envirionmental Defense Fund's Center for Conservation Innitiatives.

Ted Toombs, Rocky Mountain Regional Director of Environmental Defense Fund's Center for Conservation Incentives.

By Greta Lohman

This month’s featured stakeholder is Theodore Toombs, Rocky Mountain Regional Director for the Environmental Defense Fund’s Center for Conservation Incentives (CCI). On a daily basis, Toombs interacts with organizations such as the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, rancher coalitions like the Rancher’s Stewardship Alliance, and The Nature Conservancy. The Center for Conservation Incentives’ objective is to use incentives to encourage conservation of private lands.

One of the major initiatives Toombs is currently working on involves USDA Farm Bill policy and program implementation. “Specifically, we are helping demonstrate how incentives like the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative can help ranchers enhance sage-grouse and prairie bird habitat on ranchlands, and for the Conservation Reserve Program to help farmers recover declining species, like the Lesser Prairie Chicken, by planting and restoring native grasses.”

Another project that Toombs is particularly excited about and hopes other stakeholders will become involved in is called the Coalition for Conservation Through Ranching. “I’m very excited about the new formation of this unique partnership. This is a group of six agricultural and conservation organizations that are seeking common ground on agricultural and conservation issues. If successful, these groups will collaborate to develop and support policies of common interest to ranching and conservation across the West. It would mean a stronger voice for these groups with legislators. We hope to stimulate other organizations to join in the near future and begin developing some policy topics to pursue jointly.”

Like any stakeholder, Toombs and the CCI must balance economic realities with goals and expansion objectives for the future. “We would like to place more emphasis on ecosystem services markets in the future, and yes—economic times are tough. As a result, we may have to cut back on local demonstration projects,” Toombs explained.

As the agricultural industry changes in the coming years, Toombs believes that organizations such as the ILE can help his organization and others by providing “research and support in helping producers understand what emerging ecosystem service markets might mean to them. Assistance with developing the scientific framework for measure and valuing ecosystem service flows, as well as, helping formulate decision support tools for agriculture would be of great value.”

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