Soil & Water Conservation District Work...Yesterday to Today

Dust storms blackened the skies in the early 1930’s, as rich top soil from the great plains states filled the air across the country. A prolonged drought combined with the conventional tillage methods used then scripted this national disaster which buried farms and towns alike. In April of 1935, a conservation pioneer named Hugh Hammond Bennett testified before congress about the need for a national soil conservation program and in response Congress passed the Soil Conservation Act of 1935. This Act created the Soil Conservation Service, now known as the Natural Resource Conservation Service, as part of the USDA. Part of the Act also made provision for the establishment of Soil and Water Conservation Districts in each state. In 1937, the Indiana Legislature passed the Indiana Conservation Act, which established an SWCD in each county.

Soil and Water Conservation Districts are a division of state government which are mostly funded and entirely administered at the local level. They are governed by a board of five Supervisors, three elected and two who are appointed. All 92 Indiana counties have an SWCD. The District is a member of the Indiana Conservation Partnership along with NRCS, Purdue University, FSA, ISDA, and IDEM.

The Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District has been a community leader in the field of natural resource conservation since its establishment in 1956.  Though its many programs, the SWCD continues to preserve the integrity of our community by protecting its existing natural resources, reducing pollution, and educating its citizens about the environment. 

Since 2001 the SWCD has overseen the White River Watershed Project, an Environmental Protection Agency funded project that aims to reduce nonpoint source water pollution in the White River.  Through its programs and education, this project has increased our community’s understanding of the sources of water pollution, the problems it causes, and the methods to reduce it. 

Beginning in 2007, the SWCD has overseen a grant from the Ball Brothers Foundation to enhance the John M. Craddock Wetland Nature Preserve along the White River.  This four-year project will create a trail system through the Preserve, making it a destination along the White River Greenway for all the citizens of our community.  The site will be an education resource for school children and college students throughout Delaware County and East Central Indiana. 

In 2008 the SWCD created a new program called Energy Efficiency in Agriculture.  This project is partially funded by the Ball Brothers Foundation and aims to reduce the amount of energy that farmers use running their businesses by auditing the existing usage on farms and educating the stakeholders on more efficient way to reduce their energy output.

The SWCD is currently spearheading a six county effort to establish a USDA Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D) in East Central Indiana.  An RC&D program pulls together community members to improve the quality of life though natural resources conservation and community development. 

Though our many programs the SWCD will be able to support the community by:

  • Increasing the awareness of sustainability and conservation though education and outreach
  • Providing a site in the City of Muncie for recreation, wildlife habitat, and environmental education
  • Supporting the ‘greening’ of Delaware County

The Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District is vital to preserving East Central Indiana’s natural resources, providing it citizens with the opportunities to live in a clean, healthful area, and educating our community to ensure that our home will stay a beautiful, wonderful place to live.