Conservation District History
During the 1930s, the Dust Bowl made the need to conserve natural resources, particularly soil, very clear. Agencies ranging from Land Grant Universities to the Federal Emergency Relief Administration researched and implemented conservation practices throughout the nation. Eventually, the Soil Conservation Service, now named Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) was created under the Soil Conservation Act of 1935, to develop and implement soil erosion control programs.
Sometimes agencies working with conservation ended up competing with each other. Local leadership was needed to coordinate their efforts and tie them into local conditions and priorities. Because of this, the President developed a model Conservation District Law, for consideration by state governments.
In March 1941, the State Legislature passed an enabling act which established conservation districts in Wyoming. Conservation districts were to direct programs protecting local renewable natural resources. Wyoming now has 34 conservation districts in 23 counties.
These Supervisors are elected officials, elected on the general election ballot. These Board members serve without pay. Persons interested in serving on a local conservation district board, file an application with the county clerk within the county in which the district is located. Individuals interested in filing for election should contact their county clerk’s office.
In 1987, the Wyoming State Legislature granted Conservation Districts the authority to tax up to one mill. Since that time, 23 Districts have obtained mill levy funding. Several Districts have also received the support of their County Commissioners and therefore have opted not to request mill levy funding. The Conservation Districts utilize their local funding to address publicly identified priority programs and concerns. Those programs initiated by Districts vary dependent on local needs. Currently, local people support conservation efforts with over $8 million in local funding. Conservation Districts are empowered to represent and assist their local taxpayers in a variety of capacities.
The Association, in partnership with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, facilitates Conservation District training on, at a minimum, an annual basis. For more information on training opportunities and the oversight and management requirements of conservation districts please refer to the district resources tab.