History of SWCDs
KANKAKEE SWCD HISTORY
The Kankakee County Soil and Water Conservation District was established in 1946 under the Illinois Soil and Water Conservation District Act of 1937. Acting as a "local unit of government", SWCD's provide assistance to the public in conserving and protecting soil, water, and other natural resources. There are 97 county based SWCD offices serving all 102 counties in the state. Each district is governed by a board of directors.
FUNDING AND OVERSIGHT
One of 97 Soil and Water Conservation Districts in the state of Illinois, the Kankakee SWCD is a type of local government through the State Comptroller. The District does not tax, but is supported in part by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) state funding. State funding is used for costs related to staffing and general District operations.
In recent years, the Kankakee County SWCD has taken initiative to secure grants to fund conservation-centric projects that benefit farmers, landowners, and the community.
HISTORY & ORIGINS
The following excerpt was taken from the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts (AISWCD) website:
"In the early 1930s, along with the greatest depression this nation ever experienced, came an equally unparalleled ecological disaster known as the Dust Bowl. Following a severe and sustained drought in the Great Plains, the region’s soil began to erode and blow away, creating huge black dust storms that blotted out the sun and swallowed the countryside. Thousands of “dust refugees” left the black fog to seek better lives. But the storms stretched across the nation. They reached south to Texas and east to New York. Dust even sifted into the White House and onto the desk of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
On Capitol Hill, while testifying about the erosion problem, soil scientist Hugh Hammond Bennett threw back the curtains to reveal a sky blackened by dust. Congress unanimously passed legislation declaring soil and water conservation a national policy and priority. Since about three-fourths of the continental United States is privately owned, Congress realized that only active, voluntary support from landowners would guarantee the success of conservation work on private land. In 1937, President Roosevelt wrote the governors of all the states recommending legislation that would allow local landowners to form soil conservation districts."