Julia Escamilla moved to Rainbow in 1992 after obtaining a position at the Mission Resource Conservation District. She spent eight years with the Mission RCD as an irrigation technician before accepting her current position with the Rincon Del Diablo Municipal Water District.
Escamilla, who still lives in Rainbow, is back with the Mission RCD. On Dec. 3, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors appointed her to Seat No. 1 on the district board. The term of the seat previously held by Paul Allen, who has moved to Northern California to be with family, expires on Nov. 30, 2014, although Escamilla can be reappointed for another four-year term.
“It’s interesting to come full circle,” Escamilla said.
Resource conservation districts, which are formed to control water runoff and prevent soil erosion, were originally created to focus on agricultural use of land but now involve themselves in watershed management, recreational area management, urban and agricultural irrigation and water use, water quality, forest land productivity, and public education for children and adults.
On April 27, 1935, the Soil Conservation Act which was passed in response to the Dust Bowl of that era created the Soil Conservation Service branch of the United States Department of Agriculture. Farmers were skeptical about federal involvement, so the program included the creation of local soil conservation districts with locally-elected boards. Those boards and districts had no regulatory power but worked in conjunction with the Soil Conservation Service. In order for those local districts to be created, states had to pass enabling legislation.
The Soil Conservation Service is now the National Resources Conservation Service and is still part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In the 1970s, California’s soil conservation districts became resource conservation districts, although some states retain the soil conservation district designation. Currently San Diego County has three resource conservation districts.
“Julia brings all of her experience from working on our programs,” said Mission RCD manager Judy Mitchell. “It gives her a unique knowledge of how the district works and how to be most effective.”
When Escamilla was on the RCD staff, her activities included agricultural management and educational outreach programs. “She’s very familiar with the district’s non-regulatory approach to helping property owners,” Mitchell said.
The five Mission RCD board members may live anywhere in the district, although Mitchell notes that Escamilla’s Rainbow residence gives her familiarity with that community. “We’re delighted to have a representative from that area of our district,” Mitchell said.
Escamilla is now the public services information officer for the Rincon Del Diablo Municipal Water District. “She’s going to bring even more knowledge and experience about water,” Mitchell said.
“I’m pleased to fill vacancies on county boards and commissions with qualified and competent candidates,” said Supervisor Bill Horn, whose recommendation of Escamilla’s appointment received a 5-0 Board of Supervisors vote.
“I’ve got experience from living in the area as well as my water conservation background, and I see its value as a grass-roots organization and I’d like to contribute in any way that I can,” Escamilla said.
Escamilla is originally from South Pasadena. Her father was a vice president of Trader Joe’s, so Escamilla and many other family members worked for Trader Joe’s.
Escamilla was interested in agricultural biology when she came to San Diego County. “I was able to experience that,” she said of working at the RCD.
“My aspect is more preserving the agricultural heritage and the open space,” Escamilla said. “Environmental sustainability is my angle.”