Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) are special purpose units of government that manage and direct natural resource management programs at the local level. Districts work in both urban and rural settings to carry out a program for the conservation, use, and development of soil, water, and related resources. SWCD Supervisors serve four-year terms and meet monthly, discussing the business of the SWCD, distributing state grant allocations to landowners, setting conservation priorities, and coordinating conservation efforts with other local units of government and state agencies.
General SWCD Information:
Brown SWCD Mission Statement
The following Mission Statement was adopted by the board of the Brown SWCD on January 28th, 2013:
The Brown Soil & Water Conservation District is organized for the purpose of dealing with a wide range of conservation problems, including soil and water conservation, watershed protection and flood prevention, farm forestry, wildlife improvement, recreational development, pollution control, and rural area development.
The District will provide an organization through which landowners, groups of landowners, and units of government may cooperate with each other and with local, State, and Federal agencies in solving their problems.
District assistance made available to landowners will encompass research, education, technical, and financial assistance. The principle objective of the District will be to encourage the use of land for which it is suited, and the treatment of all land in accordance with its needs for protection and improvement. This will result in a permanent and prosperous environment for all citizens of the District.
Brown SWCD History
On April 9th, 1958, Secretary of State, Joseph L. Donovan, issued the “Certificate of Due Organization of Brown Soil Conservation District”.
Conservation conscious leaders began the process of reformation of a District in late 1958. A Public Policy Purpose stated:
“Improper land-use practices have caused and contributed to serious erosion of farm and grazing lands of this area by wind and water and that thereby top soil is being washed out of fields and pastures and has speeded up the removal of absorptive top soil causing exposure of less absorptive and less protective, but more erosive subsoil; and that land occupiers have failed to cause the discountenance of such practice as creates this condition, and the consequences thereof have caused the deterioration of soil and its fertility and the deterioration of crops grown thereon, and declining yields therefrom, and diminishing of the underground water reserve, all of which have caused water shortages, intensified periods of drought, and crop failure, and thus brought about suffering, disease, and impoverishment of families and the damage of property from floods and dust storms; and all of these effects may be prevented by land-use practices contributing to the conservation of top soil by carrying on of engineering operations such as the construction of terraces, check dams, dikes, ponds, ditches, and the utilization of strip cropping, lister furrowing, contour cultivating, land irrigation, seeding and planting of waste, sloping, abandoned, or eroded lands to water-conserving and erosion preventing plants, trees, and grasses. It is hereby declared that it is the public welfare, health and safety of the people of Minnesota to provide for the conservation of the soil and soil resources of this State, and for the control and prevention of soil erosion, and thereby preserve natural resources, control floods, prevent impairment of dams and reservoirs, assist in maintaining the navigability or rivers and harbors, preserve wild-life, protect the tax base, and protect public lands by land-use practices, as herein provided for.”
A series of educational meetings explaining the features of a Soil Conservation District were held by County Agent Paul Kunkel and Extension Conservationist Roger Harris. On February 21st, 1958 a public hearing was held in the Sleepy Eye Municipal Hall chaired by Wm. A. Benitt of the Minnesota Soil Conservation Committee, St. Paul. The sentiment was in favor of establishing a District and a referendum was ordered by the State Committee. Polling places were scheduled at New Ulm, Sleepy Eye, Springfield, and Comfrey. Ninety-two percent of voters cast ballots in favor of the establishment of the District. The boundaries were defined in early March and the District officially formed in April 1958.
Upon establishment of a District, a Board of Supervisors must be created with two Supervisors being appointed and three elected. Waldo G. Erickson of Springfield and Norman Knowles of Morgan were duly appointed as Supervisors with a two and one year term respectively. An election was held to fill the other terms with Arley Rolloff, New Ulm, elected for a five-year term, Leonard Haala, Comfrey, a four-year term and Edmund Berg and Leon Fritsche tied for the three-year term. Berg and Fritsche drew lots at the first Board meeting held on June 25th, 1958 and Berg won the position. Rolloff was elected Chair, Knowles, Vice Chair, Erickson, Secretary and Berg, Public Relations. Fritsche was voted to be Deputy Supervisor.
During the earlier years of the Soil Conservation District all program funding was federal. On June 27, 1967, the official District name was changed from Soil Conservation District to Brown Soil and Water Conservation District and in 1978 State Law provided Cost Share Funds and administrative funds to Districts with state agency oversight. This funding mechanism is still in place and the District allocates these funds to cost share applicants for eligible best management practices according to priorities set by the current SWCD Board. The District also works with other agencies and organizations to secure funding and provide technical service to Brown County landowners.