Most Viewed Stories
Fahey honored as Watershed Coordinator of the Year
There was something familiar about the biography being read at a recent awards ceremony in San Diego.
For a minute or two, Mary Fahey even let herself believe that Kandi Manhart, the executive officer of the Glenn County Resource Conservation District, was actually talking about her.
But it couldn't be, right?
Well, it was, and by the time the mystery award winner was announced, Fahey was being honored as the inaugural Watershed Coordinator of the Year in California.
"It was humbling ... very humbling, but I'm very proud of what I've done," said Fahey, who works for the Colusa County Resource Conservation District, but also owns and operates Wise Acre Farm near Arbuckle.
Among those accomplishments is the new Colusa County Grown Project, which promotes ag products from Colusa County, and helping to produce a mapping plan to eradicate invasive weeds in the watershed.
She is also responsible for a number of outreach programs to farmers and others in the community, and leads the education programs.
Additionally, she does field work such as habitat and riparian restoration projects.
But she counts as her best work the Colusa Basin Watershed Management Plan, which is said should be completed at the end of this year, and serve as a guide for natural resource management for years to come.
"I think the management plan is going to be a big deal. I've been working on it for 21⁄2 years and have collaborated with a lot of people and agencies," Fahey said.
"It's like a stewardship guide, a guide for managing natural resources in the watershed."
Fahey said that the work has been done without regulatory muscle. The agency cannot force anything onto a property owner, but rather through outreach and education, shows how the management projects work and will benefit the property owners.
She said once a couple farmers or ranchers are on board, their neighbors see how it works, and will be more accepting of the idea.
"At least that is how it is supposed to work," said Fahey.
"That is why the field days are so important because you can get a lot of people out and show them how it does work."
Fahey said she knew the award was being designed, but had no idea that Patti Turner, the executive director of the county Resource Conservation District, had nominated her.
The East Bay native, who was educated at UC Davis and came to Arbuckle 15 years ago, said what she has enjoyed about the job is being able to build it from the ground up.
She also notes that most watershed coordinators have generated a more results from the grants and other resources than what is strictly defined.
However, those funding sources are drying up. Her own grant will end at the end of January, and while she will stay on board in another capacity, she is afraid that the in-school education programs and other community partnerships will end with the grant.
What won't end, she said, is the management plan.
"It is a living document," Fahey said.
The plan includes a number of specific projects that are ready to move forward as soon as funding sources are found.