Recently, I was catching up with a friend I hadn't seen since high school. When he asked me, "what do you do now?" I told him I work for the Washington Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). His reaction, which is normal, was, "the Washington what?" How could I explain to my friend what the Washington SWCD is?
I could give him the history report and mission statement. As a result of the dust bowls in the 1930s, legislation was passed that lead to the creation of soil and water conservation districts in Ohio. The agency's goal is to work with landowners to prevent erosion that may result in sedimentation of local watersheds. However, that doesn't tell the story.
Washington SWCD, in urban areas of the county, means things such as information on storm water quality protection. We offer technical assistance to a business or citizen concerning storm water runoff. To the cities in the county, it means assistance with their environmental operating procedures. To construction companies with projects in the cities, it means the reviewing of their sediment erosion control plans and advice on how to improve them.
To forest owners in the county, Washington SWCD means a partner in the conservation and wise use of the forest. We assist landowners by preparing forest management plans. We provide both loggers and landowners information on best management practices to prevent erosion. On the other hand, if there is a logging erosion complaint, we can assist with technical advice. We also offer a chance to add diversity to the woodlands or just beautify your yard through our annual tree sale.
To the wildlife enthusiast in the county, SWCD means a source of advice. Washington SWCD assists landowners both large and small in the planning and management of wildlife habitats. Whether it is a wetland, pond, a site for viewing wildlife in your backyard, or management of a game species such as deer, we can help. For those landowners with an uninvited guest, we also offer advice and equipment rentals to remove the nuisance animals. To pond owners in the county, we are a source of new fish to stock in their ponds with our annual fish sale.
To the agriculture industry in Washington County, the SWCD means allies in conservation and planning for wise land management. We assist both established and new farmers in water quality protection, drainage improvement, erosion control, and pasture and hay land management. We also assist them in building site reviews, agricultural conservation practices planning, engineering and design, as well as water development, ponds and springs. We also maintain a small stock of rental equipment to aid in the conservation of croplands.
To many people in the county, SWCD means education. We hold many educational events throughout the year. The kids in the county enjoy programs such as farm city day, farmer youth initiative and many classroom visits. In addition, adults can gain knowledge at events like our pond clinics, forestry field days, and contractor and utility workshops.
So how did I answer my friend? It depends on what you want the Washington Soil and Water Conservation District to mean. To find out what the Washington SWCD means to you, contact us at (740) 373-4857, or stop by at 21330 State Route 676, Suite E, Marietta.
Dean Sinclair is Washington Soil and Water Conservation District wildlife/forestry specialist.