Mission & History

June 4 1937, at Goodwell, Oklahoma. (Mrs. Emma Love, Goodwell, Oklahoma)

June 4 1937, at Goodwell, Oklahoma. (Mrs. Emma Love, Goodwell, Oklahoma)


Years of poor agricultural practices such as over-grazing and over-plowing along with years of drought led to the devastating decade-long event we now refer to as the dust bowl. This event was a wake up call to people that their traditional way of farming was not suited for their surrounding environment. In March of 1935, Hugh Hammond Bennett, a soil scientists commonly referred to as "the father of soil conservation"  testified before Congress about the need for soil conservation. The result was the passing of the Soil Conservation Act. This act established the Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resources Conservation Service), as a permanent department of the USDA. 

Not long after the Soil and Water Conservation Districts were formed as local government subdivisions to serve as liaisons between private landowners and federal agencies. Since their formation by the Ohio General Assembly in 1941, Ohio's 88 Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) have been at the forefront of protecting and managing our soil, water, and related natural resources. 

Portage SWCD is governed by a five-member local Board of Supervisors and elections are held yearly at the Annual Meeting. The Board of Supervisors has the ethical and legal responsibility to ensure that the SWCD meets its mission. Acting as volunteers, board members serve staggered, three year terms and are granted specific powers under Chapter 940 of the Ohio Revised Code. This strategic structure and design of districts enable the unique ability to provide landowners with education and conservation programs that address local needs, while advancing state and federal objectives for natural resource protection. 

Decisions of property owners impact our natural resources. By developing outreach programs and providing education, Portage SWCD provides information and guidance on natural resource management issues including but not limited to: soils, streams, wetlands, drainage, ponds, wildlife, plants, and forests. By providing technical assistance to residents, agencies, townships, and county government, the District helps others comply with current environmental regulations such as erosion and sediment control, agricultural pollution, water pollution, and wetlands protection. In addition, Portage SWCD offers a variety of services including plan reviews, education programs and workshops, annual tree and fish sales, aerial photographs, access to the county's no-till drill, and general property site information.