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HISTORICAL ORIGINS

Soil and Water Conservation Districts were an outgrowth of a difficult period in our Nation's history. Their creation was hastened by a public awakening to the ravages of soil erosion, by the Depression, and the dust storms of the 1930's. These storms brought ominous clouds of dust from the West to the Atlantic Seaboard and beyond.

The destruction of millions of acres of land by soil erosion was a grave problem, not only to the farmers, but to the Nation itself. On April 27, 1935, an Act of Congress (16 U.S.C. 590a) established the Soil Conservation Service, formerly the Soil Erosion Service. It was set up as a permanent agency under the United States Department of Agriculture with the authority to work directly in an active program with farmers and ranchers in applying conservation practices to the land. The name of the agency was again changed, in October of 1994, to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

In 1936, the U. S. Department of Agriculture issued a pamphlet entitled "A Standard State Soil Conservation Districts Law. This publication informed the states about the kind of state law that would be acceptable to the USDA as a basis for further assistance from the Soil Conservation Service. It was prepared at the suggestion of representatives of a number of states. In the forward, signed by the Secretary of Agriculture, is the statement: "While it is anticipated that the Standard Act will be appropriate to the needs of most of the states in its present form, it is true, of course, that changes may have to be made in some of the provisions to adapt the legislation to the requirements of particular states.

This Standard Act was studied by members of the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service, the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and interested farm organizations. As a result, several changes were made in the law for Illinois. The principal ones were to require land ownership as a qualification for voting on organization of a Soil Conservation District, to require a favorable majority of all qualified voters for organization, and to increase the necessary favorable vote for adoption of land-use regulations from a simple majority to three-fourths of all affected landowners. On July 9, 1937, the Illinois General Assembly adopted the Soil Conservation Districts Law.

The first District formed under the Districts Law was the Shiloh-O'Fallon District (St. Clair County) in July 1938. The last District to be formed was the Sangamon County SWCD on February 19, 1959.

Several amendments have been added to the Districts Law since 1937. In 1961, certain responsibilities dealing with the conservation and protection of water resources were added to the Law and the word water was added to the title, making the districts "Soil and Water Conservation Districts." The Law's title was again changed, and it became the Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts Act in 1977. Perhaps the most significant change to the Districts Act occurred in 1977 when the General Assembly amended the Act giving the authority to the Illinois Department of Agriculture to develop a comprehensive state soil erosion and sediment control program. It included guidelines to be used by districts in the establishment and administration of local erosion and sediment control programs and standards.

FORMATION DATES OF DISTRICTS

1. St. Clair (Shiloh-O'Fallon S.C.D.) July 22, 1938
2. Henry August 4, 1939
3. Greene September 27, 1939
4. Winnebago May 20, 1940
5. Montgomery September 6, 1940
6. JoDaviess January 29, 1941
7. Peoria April 21, 1941
8. Johnson June 2, 1941
9. Carroll August 15, 1941
10. Marshall-Putnam December 6, 1941
11. Boone January 8, 1942
12. Stephenson February 4, 1942
13. Ford March 6, 1942
14. Rock Island March 10, 1942
15. McLean April 2, 1942
16. Ogle April 2, 1942
17. Shelby April 6, 1942
18. Edgar April 8, 1942
19. Tazewell April 9, 1942
20. Warren May 11, 1942
21. Piatt May 12, 1942
22. Bureau May 14, 1942
23. Adams June 22, 1942
24. Vermilion June 29, 1942
25. Morgan August 13, 1942
26. Lee September 9, 1942
27. Jefferson October 21, 1942
28. DeWitt February 8, 1943
29. Champaign April 12, 1943
30. Stark April 16, 1943
31. Randolph May 12, 1943
32. Macon May 17, 1943
33. Henderson June 16, 1943
34. Woodford January 6, 1944
35. Edwards April 25, 1944
36. Iroquois April 25, 1944
37. Kane April 25, 1944
38. LaSalle April 25, 1944
39. McDonough April 25, 1944
40. Whiteside April 25, 1944
41. Mason May 9, 1944
42. Menard May 26, 1944
43. Gallatin May 31, 1944
44. Bond July 19, 1944
45. Fayette July 19, 1944
46. Macoupin July 19, 1944
47. Knox July 27, 1944
48. Hancock October 16, 1944
49. Marion November 10, 1944
50. Jackson December 18, 1944
51. Clay January 24, 1945
52. Crawford March 7, 1945
53. Lawrence March 7, 1945
54. Richland March 7, 1945
55. Wabash March 7, 1945
56. Livingston April 3, 1945
57. Moultrie April 3, 1945
58. Pope-Hardin May 1, 1945
59. Schuyler May 11, 1945
60. White August 10, 1945
61. Massac December 11, 1945
62. Brown March 5, 1946
63. Effingham April 25, 1946
64. Kankakee April 25, 1946
65. Mercer April 25, 1946
66. Madison May 9, 1946
67. Pike July 23, 1946
68. Williamson August 2, 1946
69. Saline September 6, 1946
70. Will September 6, 1946*
71. Franklin September 12, 1946
72. DeKalb January 6, 1947
73. Grundy January 6, 1947
74. McHenry January 6, 1947
75. Pulaski-Alexander January 6, 1947
76. Clinton April 8, 1947
77. Scott April 14, 1947
78. Washington April 29, 1947
79. Cass May 5, 1947
80. Christian May 6, 1947
81. Kendall June 2, 1947
82. Union July 1, 1947
83. Douglas July 2, 1947
84. Monroe July 2, 1947
85. Jasper March 3, 1948
86. Calhoun April 20, 1948
87. Perry April 20, 1948
88. Fulton June 8, 1948
89. Wayne August 23, 1948
90. Clark April 20, 1949
91. Cumberland June 8, 1949
92. Hamilton June 18, 1949
93. Coles December 23, 1949
94. Jersey March 30, 1950
95. North Cook August 30, 1950
96. Logan June 29, 1952
97. South Cook March 23, 1953*
98. Lake November 13, 1957
99. Sangamon February 19, 1959
 
*NOTE: The reason for 99 districts is that Will County SWCD was formed September 6, 1946, and South Cook County SWCD was formed March 23, 1953. The two districts combined February 16, 1962.

 
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