Why do we exist?
Elkhart County Soil and Water Conservation District was certified as a governmental subdivision of the State of Indiana on February 26, 1941.
Based on Indiana code, every county in Indiana has the authority to a Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD or District). Each District is supervised by a board of local landowners who are responsible for the policies and programs of the SWCD. The SWCD Board is composed of five individuals; three of whom are elected, one each year at the SWCD’s annual meeting by landowners in the county, and two of whom are appointed by the Indiana State Soil Conservation Board. All terms are for three years.
These policies must follow the guidelines set up through Indiana Code (IC 14-32-5).
You can find more information about how Soil & Water Conservation Districts are set up HERE.
History of SWCDs
The Dust Bowl
In the early 1930s, along with the Great Depression, came an ecological disaster known as the Dust Bowl. Huge black dust storms stretched across the nation, blotted out the sun, and swallowed the countryside for nearly a decade. Severe drought and a failure to apply dryland farming methods to prevent erosion caused this phenomenon.
What caused the Dust Bowl?
Poor agricultural practices included: tillage, over-grazing, removal of windbreaks, not leaving residue or cover on the soil, and not rotating crops (planting the same thing year after year). Those practices mixed with the drought spelled out disaster for Americans.
By the end of 1935, an estimated 850 million tons of fertile topsoil had been blown off over 100 million acres of land in the Southern Great Plans. In 1935, Congress declared soil erosion a national menace and established the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) within the US Department of Agriculture.
In May of 1936, The Soil Conservation Service published the “Standard Conservation District Law”
In March of 1937, Arkansas was the first state to enact the Standard Conservation District Law. The Brown Creek Soil Conservation District, in North Carolina, was established as the first district in August 1937
Extensive conservation work by the districts and land users reduced soil erosion by 65%.
Rain finally arrived ending the Dust Bowl Drought.
Indiana’s first Conservation District Law (IC13-3-1) was enacted in 1940. Vanderburgh County was the first to establish an SWCD in Indiana
Elkhart County Soil and Water Conservation District was established on February 26, 1941. J. Bernard Myers and Harry S. Eby successfully applied to the State in order to establish the SWCD office.