Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey last week highlighted "Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week" and praised the important conservation work that has been achieved to better care for the air, soil and water in the state. Governor Terry Branstad issued a proclamation recognizing November 27to December 3, 2011 as Soil and Water Conservation Week.
"Soil and Water Conservation Week is an opportunity to recognize all that has been accomplished through efforts to prevent soil erosion and protect water quality here in Iowa," says Northey. "This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the law that started our statewide conservation efforts and is a great time to see all that has been accomplished and also recognize the work still to be done."
Soil and Water Conservation Districts in each county fulfilling mission
The severe erosion during the "Dust Bowl" years of the 1930s brought about the first efforts to prevent soil erosion, which also helped protect water resources. Iowa passed a law in 1939 to establishing a state soil conservation agency and also created the means for soil and water conservation districts to organize. This legislation declared it the policy of the State of Iowa to: preserve soil and water; protect the state's tax base; and promote health, safety and public welfare of people of Iowa.
Today, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship's Division of Soil Conservation and the 100 Soil and Water Conservations Districts located in each county are fulfilling Iowa's conservation mission. Other key partners in Iowa's conservation efforts include USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Iowa State University and ISU Extension.
The state ag department's Division of Soil Conservation provides state leadership in the protection and management of soil, water and mineral resources and assisting soil and water conservation districts and private landowners to meet their agricultural and environmental protection needs.
Work of all conservation partners in Iowa remains vitally important
In recent years the department has also started to work more in our towns and cities to prevent erosion and protect water quality through the capture and infiltration of storm-water runoff. The state ag department has added five urban conservationists that work with homeowners, land development professionals, city officials and government agencies to provide information and technical assistance on urban best management practices for sustainable storm-water management.
"The work of the Iowa Department of Agriculture's Division of Soil Conservation and all the conservation partners in the state remains vitally important as they continue to help farmers better care for our air, soil and water," Northey says. "Iowa's tremendous natural resources and the efficiency of our farmers is what makes our state so productive. It is vital that we preserve these resources that are responsible for such a significant part of our state's economy."
Soil and Water Conservation Week recognizes that the abundance of our agricultural products and the quality of life we enjoy are dependent upon the proper use and management of soil and water resources.