They’ve come a long way since the Dust Bowl.
The Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District celebrates its diamond 75th anniversary Sept. 13 with an open house and dinner banquet at Shaw Farms, 1737 SR 131 in Miami Township.
Clermont County Park District naturalists will have a display table at the open house highlighting some of the ways the two agencies work together to protect the county’s natural resources.
“Conservation districts grew out of the Dust Bowl era,” said SWCD Administrator John McManus. “Very little was being done in those days to preserve the soil.
“The pictures of erosion you see from those days are just mind blowing. We’ll have a lot of things like that on display. But (lasting 75 years) shows the positive effect conservation districts have had, not just in Clermont County, but all over the country.”
Annual events like the Spring Cleanup and the Great Outdoor Weekend East Fork Canoe Float serve as projects for the two agencies and their volunteers to tidy up local waterways.
SWCD gave the Park District a huge assist on its 2014 wetlands restoration project at Shor Park in Union Township. Funded by a Surface Water Improvement Fund grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, it restored 10 acres of wetland habitat along Tealtown Road.
The two worked together to create rain gardens at Pattison and Sycamore Parks. Most recently, the Park District took over a conservation easement to facilitate the Williamsburg Dam removal project.
“It’s a great partnership,” McManus said. “We’re both very conservation minded. Primarily, our mission and our role is to promote conservation through education.
“We don’t have any authority to own land. We work through education and partnership, but the Park District has the ability to hold and protect land and conservation easements, so it just makes sense to work together toward the same goals.”
“We are proud of the work we’ve done in the county with SWCD,” said Mark Motz, Park District community relations manager. “We are proud to celebrate this milestone with Soil and Water.
“As the Park District approaches its own 50-year anniversary (in 2020), we will probably take some cues from Soil and Water on how to celebrate as much as we have on protecting resources.”
McManus said while there have been some changes since 1943, many elements of the SWCD will remain the same going forward.
“A big change from 1943 to now, all our work is not agricultural,” he said. “Growth and development has to play out in a well thought out and planned way. Street quality, hillsides, all that has an effect on the soil and our waterways.
“For the next 75 years and beyond, we’ll keep working with farmers and communities to protect the area. That need is not something that will go away.”
In addition to the anniversary celebration, SWCD will elect two members to its Board of Supervisors. Information on the voting process – including absentee ballots – is available here.