Ten SWCDs celebrate 75 years

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The Coshocton Soil and Water Conservation District is one of ten across the state celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2017.

According to state records Highland was the first district organized; Coshocton was second, followed by Morrow, Clark, Butler, Noble, Columbiana, Guernsey, Monroe and Tuscarawas.

Most of the state’s SWCDs were formed in the 1940s, with a handful formed in the 1950s and Lucas being the last district formed in 1964.

Did you realize that soil and water conservation districts were formed by a petition of local residents to the Ohio State Soil Conservation Committee at the Ohio statehouse, in our case in April of 1942?

History

County officials were authorized to proceed and organize as set forth in House Bill 646. A 95 percent referendum vote of Coshocton County citizens created our SWCD in May of 1942.

This was the beginning of the one-on-one technical assistance of the local SWCD program that continues today.

Soil and water conservation districts are governed by a board of five local residents that are elected to serve a three year term. SWCD board members are public officials who serve without pay to direct the local program.

These dedicated community members give of their time and talents, establishing work priorities to be accomplished in the local community.

Staff

During the early years of our history, SWCD board members worked with a Soil Conservation Service employee to accomplish the work of the district.

It was eighteen years later before the first SWCD employee in Coshocton was hired; a secretary in 1960 and our first technician in 1967.

During this anniversary year, we have interviewed past supervisors and staff for a series of news articles. One of the items mentioned most often was how much they enjoyed working with other board members, local officials and staff to accomplish the goals of the SWCD. It was also brought up by several that in the early years of our program, supervisors and staff only worked with farmers where today we work with all sectors of the public.

The educational tools that districts have been able to purchase over the years were also mentioned; making our message easy to understand and adding new audiences for our program.

Change

Conservation practices have changed in the past 75 years also. Contour strips were the most prevalent practice in the early years of our district. One of our early technicians could remember laying out strips with a hand level and tape.

Today, this practice is still used but we see a shift away from contour strips to No-Till with cover crops and grassed waterways. While 50 to 75 years ago our customers came to us to benefit their operations, today they may be driven to keep ahead of regulations.

There may be extra layers to address the problem today but we still want to know what the conservation problem is and how can we help fix it.

That is the reason conservation districts were formed so many years ago and are still vital in our communities today.

There are 88 soil and water conservation districts in the State of Ohio; one in every county. We are all different in the way we do our work but our goal is the same, to work with local residents to make our communities a better place to live.

If you have a soil or water resource concern, contact your local SWCD.

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