A weekly blog for all things conservation
By: Nathan Dewing, Agricultural Team Leader
For seven decades, Pennsylvania’s county conservation districts have actively engaged residents to understand management of our natural resources. What is a conservation district anyway?
Let’s start by asking “why?” PA county conservation districts were birthed with the 1945 passage of the PA Conservation District Law. What was the issue requiring leadership? Soil conservation. Farming practices were degrading the soil resource, risking future productivity and affecting other resources like air and water. The law provided for a “grass-roots” conservation effort to build awareness and capability of local landowners to voluntarily manage the resources well. Potter County established PA’s first conservation district in 1945. 2019 marks 63 years for the Bradford County Conservation District. Strong leadership has developed significant capacity to resource Bradford County residents in the task.
Who? A county conservation district is a seven-member, volunteer board of local residents. County Commissioners have some input into the makeup of the board to properly reflect the county’s character. The board is to consist of one county commissioner, not less than two or more than four farmer members, and not less than two or more than four public members. Bradford County has designed the board to be one County Commissioner, four farmer members, and two public members. To make good choices for the right people to direct a conservation district, approved nominating organizations submit nominations to the County Commissioners who make appointments to the board. Directors serve a 4-year term.
Now let’s ask – “How?” A conservation district inevitably ends up hiring staff to carry out its mission. In PA, you find conservation districts with staffs ranging from two to 30 people, depending upon the support or leadership it receives. A staff can often leverage resources two or three times its cost to help landowners make improvements. The board then directs these resources to address priorities that they, more than any other group are best positioned to understand. This idea of a conservation district has developed a reputation for being highly effective at taking limited resources and applying them where they will make the most difference.
Conservation districts excel because of strong leadership and strong partnerships. Look for opportunities to thank and engage with current conservation district directors including Commissioner Daryl Miller, Chairman Keith Heimbach (Windfall), Bruce Chase (New Albany), Anthony Ventello (Central Bradford Progress Authority), Al Herman (Alba), Josh Ford (Orwell), and Rob Miller (Columbia Crossroads). Key partnerships include USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency, Penn State Cooperative Extension, PA Department of Environmental Protection, PA Dept of Conservation and Natural Resources, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and many more.
Your input is always highly valued! Stop by our booth at the Troy Fair this week to introduce yourself and share your thoughts. We will be there all week with activities for kids and adults alike. Take a look at the inter-seeder parked in the exhibit area. Doing the small things together, we can make a big difference. Yes, even lasting seven decades from now.
The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District