Naegeli receives recognition from state group

Honored as conservation district supervisor of the year


December 22, 2022

Annie Wooden

Bill Naegeli, a supervisor with Green Mountain Conservation District for the past 31 years, was recently honored by the Montana Association of Conservation Districts.

by Annie Wooden

Bill Naegeli has been a supervisor with Green Mountain Conservation District (GMCD) for more than 30 years. Last month at a state convention, he was honored as supervisor of the year for all 58 conservation districts in the state.

Naegeli, who works as the Emergency Manager for Sanders County, attended the Montana Association of Conservation District (MACD) convention in Helena in November. He has been a director at the state level for almost 15 years. He was surprised when he was announced as supervisor of the year. "It was pretty cool. I didn't expect it," Naegeli said.

GMCD Administrator Sarah Busmire nominated Naegeli for the award. "Bill plays a large role at Green Mountain Conservation District and has for over 30 years. It is through his dedication of time not only with GMCD, but with the Montana Association of Conservation Districts, that he deserved to win supervisor of the year," Busmire said. "He is a natural resource champion in western Sanders County and practices what he preaches on his ranch outside of Trout Creek. His passion for protecting and enhancing natural resources in western Sanders County is incredible and he is always willing to help landowners. He is fantastic to work with and truly cares about the natural resources and people of Sanders County."

Naegeli said he enjoys working with the people in the conservation district and seeing projects get completed. In his tenure, there have been eight administrators for GMCD and the position is now a half-time paid position.

MACD is divided into six areas, and Naegeli is one of the directors for area five, which includes conservation districts west of the continental divide. He said MACD helps the districts with both legislative matters and also by sponsoring larger grants that are passed down to the individual districts.

Naegeli said he enjoys being a GMCD supervisor because it's something different from his daily work. "It's kind of like a hobby for me." He noted that being involved at the state level allows him to visit and collaborate with his peers from across the state.

In 31 years with GMCD, Naegeli said some of the changes he's seen are in techniques for bank stabilization, as well as the amount of land people own. "Now it's 5- or 10-acre pieces instead of 40- or 100-acre tracts of land," he explained. When he first started with the district they were involved with more bank stabilization and on-ground conservation efforts, whereas now they work on more recreation projects, with more dock permits and projects of that nature. Naegeli noted that 2023 will be a bit of a learning curve for the district as they welcome three newly elected supervisors.

Naegeli said it's important for residents and property owners to participate in GMCD meetings and grant offerings. He explained that if more people are able to participate, the district can have more continuity in restoration projects and be more efficient. Some of the projects he's been involved with include restoration in the Pilgrim Creek, Vermilion and Bull River areas, as well as an emergency restoration project in the Swamp Creek area that was all on private land.


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