On September 19, 1933 actual operation of the Soil Erosion Service began. Hugh H. Bennett transferred from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the U.S. Department of the Interior as Director of the Soil Erosion Service. He was the first and only employee of the new agency on this date. The following day Lillian Wieland entered on duty as his secretary. From this beginning the agency’s growth was rapid and many thousands of people were employed during subsequent years.
The first great dust storm was on May 11, 1934, (see photo on left) originating in the “Dust Bowl” of the Great Plains area sweeping fine soil particles over Washington, D.C., and 300 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean.
On February 27, 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States, recommended that states allow landowners to form soil and water conservation districts.
*On August 4, 1937, the first Soil Conservation District was organized in the United States. Established in North Carolina in parts of Anson and Union Counties the district was named “Brown Creek Soil Conservation District”.
*Across the United States, nearly 3,000 conservation districts—almost one in every county—are helping local people to conserve land, water, forests, wildlife and related natural resources.
*More than 17,000 citizens serve in elected or appointed positions on conservation districts' governing boards. The districts work directly with millions of cooperating land managers nationwide to manage and protect natural resources.
*Among other things, conservation districts help:
· implement farm, ranch, and forestland conservation practices to protect soil productivity, water quality and quantity, air quality, and wildlife habitat;
· conserve and restore wetlands, which purify water and provide habitat for birds, fish, and numerous other animals;
· protect groundwater resources;
· assist communities and homeowners to plant trees and other land cover to hold soil in place, clean the air, provide cover for wildlife, and beautify neighborhoods;
· help developers control soil erosion and protect water and air quality during construction; and reach out to communities and schools to teach the value of natural resources and encourage conservation efforts.
*Information can be found on the National Association of Conservation Districts website: www.nacdnet.org