MANSFIELD – Brian Alt, Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (Richland SWCD) Board Supervisor Chairperson led a ribbon cutting ceremony on Jan. 18 to kick off Richland SWCD’s 75th anniversary.
The ceremony began with Brian sharing the history of how Soil and Water Conservation Districts were formed.
When the Dust Bowl hit in the 1930s, there was mass devastation to land, crops, livestock, and human health. The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms, caused by a combination of both natural factors (severe drought) and manmade factors (destruction of topsoil by bad practices). While the term "the Dust Bowl" was originally a reference to the geographical area affected by the dust, today it usually refers to the event itself (the term "Dirty Thirties" is also sometimes used).
On May 12, 1934, the worst dust storm in the nation's history swept eastward from the Great Plains to the Atlantic Ocean, obscuring the sun and depositing obvious films of dust as it moved. This catastrophic storm served as the catalyst for public outcry and congressional action for soil and water conservation throughout the nation.
Although the Dust Bowl was a tragedy, out of the tragedy, good resulted in the creation of the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1935.
Landowners, primarily farmers, had little interaction with USDA and were wary of working with the federal government. Congress went on to pass, and the President signed, a resolution calling for states to provide conservation assistance from USDA and form local soil and water conservation districts.
Richland Soil and Water Conservation District was created in 1948 and a Board formed with local farmers to work with residents of Richland County to provide educational and technical assistance. Richland SWCD serves as a resource to help people voluntarily adopt management practices that better protect, preserve, and conserve soil and water health with the goal of preventing another Dust Bowl.
Since Richland SWCD’s inception, needs have changed, and assistance to residents has expanded to include urban, rural, commercial, woodland, and residential areas.
Having a solid soil and water infrastructure is important to our health and well-being and the economic impact is far-reaching. It fuels our recreation, business development, and is a beacon to those seeking an area to raise their family or build a business and encourages those who grew up here to stay. It also leaves a long-lasting legacy for future generations.
Brian expressed gratitude to Jennifer Wagner, Richland Area Chamber Member Coordinator for helping coordinate the ribbon cutting ceremony, to all those in attendance, and those who support soil and water health. Brian also recognized other Board Supervisors, Fred Cooke, Lanny Hopkins and Jean McClintock.
Brian announced the launch of the new interactive Richland SWCD website and afterward those in attendance enjoyed cake, visiting with each other, and were offered free Richland SWCD and United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) 2023 calendars.
On behalf of the Board Supervisors and staff, Brian thanked the Richland County Commissioners for supporting soil and water health in Richland County. Board Supervisors and staff look forward to working with residents and partners to put more conservation on the ground in the coming years.
To learn more about services and programs Richland SWCD provides, please visit https://richlandswcd.net/ or call 419-747-8686.
The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District develops, implements, and assists landowners, government agencies and our partners with a wide range of natural resource conservation programs.
Programs and assistance of the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District are available without regard to race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, age, national origin, ancestry, disability, or veteran status.