Latah Soil and Water Conservation District

Kyle Hawley
Meet the Latah SWCD Supervisors: Kyle Hawley
Reprinted from The Working Conservationist, Spring 2008

By Ken Preston

Though he is far too modest to admit it, Kyle Hawley has become something of a conservation icon in Latah County over the past twenty-some years. Indeed, his name is a familiar one across the entire state, and is highly respected in arenas of discourse on conservation of natural resources.

Hawley was born and raised in Latah County. He attended Moscow schools and the University of Idaho. He began majoring in electrical engineering, but found it too boring and switched his major to Agriculture, specifically, soil science. After attaining his Bachelor's Degree, he worked on his Master's and had completed all but his thesis when he left to begin farming. It turned out to be his life's calling, and he continues to farm today in both Idaho and Washington. For relaxation away from the farm, he enjoys snowmobiling, dirt biking, white water rafting, and kayaking.

For approximately the past twenty years (he says he doesn't really remember when he started), he has served on the Latah Soil and Water Conservation District (Latah SWCD) Board. He has held many positions on the Board over the years, such as Vice President, Vice Chairman, and Chairman. Kyle has also served as the President of the Idaho Association of Soil Conservation Districts (IASCD) and is currently the director of IASCD's division II (Clearwater, Latah, Lewis, Idaho, and Nez Perce counties). "There may have been other positions" Hawley says with his trademark, wry grin, "but I don't really know for sure." He says he first became interested in serving on the Latah SWCD because his brother, Lee Hawley, and his good friend Frank Walker (both longtime members of the Latah SWCD), encouraged him to join. It was to become a marriage of skills and need. Latah County needed conservation measures implemented, and Kyle Hawley had the skills and desire to help toward that end.

When asked what keeps him coming back year after year, Hawley said, "Because I see a continuing need to get conservation on the ground. We've accomplished a lot, but there is a lot more to do as everything keeps changing." He continued, "The District's [Latah SWCD] strengths as an organization are the opportunity to provide cost share and to coordinate agencies and special interest groups such that the conservation needs of Latah County can be met." He went on to say, "[Latah County] is in a favorable geographical location to attain funding for conservation programs." Hawley explains the fact that the local area has endangered species, both terrestrial and aquatic, gives special appeal to agencies with the ability to fund conservation projects. Further, he feels the area is enhanced by having two land grant universities located just a few miles apart. Hawley is proud of the proactive approach this conservation district has taken for many years to address the resource problems of the area. He states, "Another key to this area being able to get conservation funded and on the ground is the great rapport [Latah SWCD] has established with other state and local agencies such as Idaho Fish and Game and DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality). And equally important" Hawley notes, "is the diversity of supervisors this district has been able to attract. The diverse backgrounds and skills of the members help a great deal when it comes to being more involved with special interests such as the city of Moscow, the highway department, and others."

For the future of Latah County and the Latah SWCD, Hawley says it's clear the biggest challenge will be to manage the urban/rural interface. "It will require strong leadership and insightful, forward thinking to create the kind of strategic planning that needs to be put in place. Without that, we disrespect future generations and the natural resources upon which, they too, will depend." One of the most crucial concerns Hawley has is how the area will deal with the issues of water. Both groundwater supply and the hydrograph of runoff events are of major concern. He notes, "Each time we install another impermeable surface, such as a roof top or a parking lot, the hydrograph steepens as the water seeps into the ground less, and runs off faster." Similarly, each bit of development puts greater strain on the groundwater supply, as each new home or business taps into it. Hawley suggests, "Balancing the urban encroachment with the agricultural tradition will require a lot of education and guidance. It's not going to be easy."

When asked what he would like his legacy to be, Hawley began speaking about the Latah SWCD. He said hoped the Latah SWCD would continue its strong role in natural resources management. He also went on to state, "what a pleasure it has been and continues to be to serve with the current Board members and the Latah County public at large." When asked again what he would like his legacy to be, Hawley answered, "It's not about me. I don't need a legacy." His wry grin once again on his face.

Ken Preston is a former Resource Conservation Planner for the Latah Soil and Water Conservation District.

Author's note: Kyle, whether you need it or not, we suspect your legacy is already written across the beautiful landscape and natural resources of Latah County. And we thank you most sincerely, on behalf of ourselves and all the future generations to come.

Latah Soil and Water Conservation District
Gritman Medical Park (Federal Building)
220 East 5th Street, Suite 208
Moscow, Idaho 83843
blog.latahsoil.org