DAVIS, Calif., Nov. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California has selected a team of conservationists and ecologists to receive the prestigious Outstanding Conservation Planning Team award for 2016 for their work improving wildlife ponds in Alameda and Contra Costa counties in California. The team includes conservation professionals from the local Resource Conservation Districts. "Conservation planning is the foundation of our service to agriculture customers throughout the state," said Carlos Suarez, NRCS state conservationist. "This team is continually recognized by other conservation peers and partners for their excellent service and expertise." Begun over a decade ago, the Wildlife Friendly Pond team has achieved the rare and exemplary success of finding win-win-wins between ranchers, rare amphibians and environmental regulators. The team has not only built the complex web of enabling relationships to permit these ranch ponds to provide both habitat and livestock water, but they have established the necessary biological, engineering and livestock expertise. Furthermore they continue to refine these methods, including finding better methods to filter sediment and enhance vegetation, conducting a detailed GIS analysis of Alameda water rights and wildlife data. This has culminated in the significant growth of this already successful effort as well as a capacity to serve the citizens and unique wildlife of this area. Conservation planners help landowners inventory and understand their natural resources. Planners then provide landowners with scientifically sound options for making landscape improvements. The plans can also be used to apply for federal Farm Bill assistance to implement the recommended conservation practices. More information on Conservation Planning can be found at https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/technical/. The award was presented this week during the 71 st annual California Association of Resource Conservation Districts' conference in Ontario, Calif. The three-day conference brings together leaders in on-farm conservation to discuss relevant topics, issues and priorities for the coming agricultural season. NRCS is a key supporter of the annual conference. More about their annual conference can be found at http://www.carcd.org/annual_conference0.aspx. Since its inception in 1935, NRCS has worked in partnership with private landowners and a variety of local, state and federal conservation partners to deliver conservation based on specific, local needs.