Willcox-San Simon NRCD

District Meeting Notice

Date, Time, Location:

Most Recent Meeting: July 22, 2021

656 N. Bisbee Avenue

Willcox, AZ 8564

Announcement & Agenda:

Agenda & Minutes Physically Posted Here:

656 N. Bisbee Avenue

Willcox, AZ 8564

About the District

Willcox-San Simon NRCD includes a very diverse landscape in southeastern Arizona ranging from desert shrubs at lower elevations in the valleys, to pine-oak forest at the tops of isolated mountain ranges. Most areas of the District is rangeland used for livestock grazing, wildlife habitat and watershed protection, while some land in the valley area is irrigated farming of pecans, wine grapes, and beans.

Conservation Practices

  • Brush Control

  • Improved Irrigation Management & Efficiencies

  • Prescribed Grazing

  • Water Improvements

  • Fencing Improvements

  • Coordinated Resource Management Planning

  • Installation of Renewable Energy Production Systems

Primary Resource Concerns

  • Soil Erosion

  • Water Quantity & Quality

  • Wildlife Habitat Improvements

  • Range Management

  • Renewable Energy

  • Natural Resource Education

District Highlights

Because it has a higher proportion of private and state lands than some areas, the District has long devoted much of its effort to coordinating USDA cost haring programs for conservation practices on farms and ranches, most of which are aimed at private and State-leased lands. These practices include prescribed grazing, fencing, water developments for livestock and wildlife, brush control, reseeding, irrigation equipment and delivery systems to conserve water, and other similar types of projects.

The District also has a long history of promoting natural resource conservation through educational efforts. For example, it has sponsored an annual Range Field Day for the past 45 years where vocational ag students from nine high schools participate in various competitions. In addition, it sponsors the Willcox-San Simon Resource Center for Environmental Education, and awards scholarships for students majoring in natural resource related classes. Workshops are held periodically to promote the latest agricultural technology, well water information, and range management. An annual “outstanding stewardship” recognition program was started in 1971.

The Cottonwood Canyon Project is a cooperative effort of local landowners, the District, NRCS, Forest Service, and Arizona Water Protection Fund to improve watershed condition by slowing runoff and reducing erosion on 13 miles of Cottonwood Creek.

The Bonita Grassland Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) is a project to improve habitat on 107,000 acres of privately owned grassland for grassland wildlife, including several “declining species.” This is a cooperative program with local landowners , NRCS, Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Game and Fish, and Arizona Antelope Foundation.

The Arizona-New Mexico Borderlands Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) is a implemented program to develop Coordinated Resource Management Plans (CRMPs) for ranches with diverse land ownerships, and to implement shrub control and other practices to improve watersheds and wildlife habitat.

The District locally administered a grant offered to Arizona’s farmers and ranchers for conversion of fossil fuel agricultural production systems to renewable energy power. This program was made available in partnership with the AZ Dept. of Energy for the conversion of existing systems from gas, oil, diesel, and in some cases electric to the utilization of renewable energy available in the state and provided benefit in terms of energy savings, cost savings, better air quality and the creation of jobs in businesses related to the renewable energy and agricultural service industries.

The examples above are only a few of the District’s current or recent projects, but they illustrate the key role that districts can play in helping to coordinate conservation practices across various land ownerships, resource interests, and agency jurisdictions.

2020 Conservation Farmer of the Year award

Each year, the Willcox-San Simon NRCD selects a “Cooperator of the Year” to highlight and honor a cooperator within the District that exhibits excellent stewardship of the land and conservation of resources. The award is alternated between a farmer and a rancher and this year, T&T Farms of Willcox is the recipient. Mike and Dawna Thompson make up the T&T Farms entity that has been farming for 43 years. Mike and Dawna have two sons, Shaun (Jena) and Kayl (April) who also make their homes in Willcox. Mike and his family grew up farming and raising hogs in Willcox and when Mike’s dad, Jerome, passed way in 1995, Mike continued farming and in 2004 completed the purchase of the ground that he and his family are still farming today. Mike’s oldest son, Shaun, is a key partner in the operations that grow a variety of crops including pinto beans, cotton, corn, chilies, milo, wheat and barley. Mike’s youngest son Kayl works off the farm but always helps with harvest, which truly makes it a family farm.

T&T Farms has utilized the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) throughout the years by upgrading to more efficient center pivot sprinklers in 1984, and more recent modifications including a lower nozzle and 30” spacings to improve water application efficiency. They use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) in all of their equipment to minimize overlap of fertilizer applications and for precise planting. Mike has incorporated cover crops into his crop rotation the past 10 years and has noticed improved soil moisture conditions and the minimum or no-till actions that accompany cover crops has saved on labor and equipment costs. Mike and Shaun have also converted all of their engines to a system that minimizes emissions, which improves air quality measures. When asked which practice has helped him the most Mike replied, “It all saves. We want to be as efficient as we can be and these practices have really helped with that.”

Mike also operates his own trucking company, T&T Trucking, to transport his commodities to distributors. Mike has served locally on the Cochise County Farmer’s Association Board. Dawna is on the board for the NCCH Foundation.

While Mike is still very passionate about farming, he states, “the reason I farm is to make a living, but the goal is to pass it along to the next generation to come.” Mike & Dawn are pictured here with their grandchildren (left to right: Katelyn, Ethan, Mike, Dawna, Ashlynn, Brycen and Nataly.) Congratulations, Thompson Family, and Thank you for your contribution to conservation in our District!

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Board Members

  • Tina Thompson, Chairman
  • Larry Parker, Vice Chairman
  • Eva Morin, Secretary/ Treasurer
  • John Hart, Member
  • Matt Klump, Member
  • Alan Seitz, Advisor
  • Kolin Kramme, Advisor
  • Calvin Allred, Advisor

District Contact Information

Patina Thompson

WillcoxSanSimonNRCD@vtc.net

(520) 384-2229

(520) 384-2735 (f)