Boone County Soil and Water Conservation District

History of the Soil and Water Conservation Program

In the 1930s, as the Dust Bowl swept across the nation relocating an estimated 300 million tons of soil, Americans realized the devastating effects of soil erosion. Legislation began to take shape to better manage and conserve the nation’s soil. Despite these actions, Missouri was still plagued with high erosion rates.

In 1982, Missouri was losing soil at a rate of 10.9 tons per acre each year on cultivated cropland. A one-tenth-of-one-percent parks, soils and water sales tax was passed by Missouri voters in 1984 to fund state parks and soil and water conservation efforts. Prior to the passage of the sales tax, Missouri had the second highest rate of erosion in the nation. Almost two-thirds of Missouri voters renewed the tax in 1988 and 1996. In 2006, the tax passed by its highest percentage to date (70.8).

Since 1982, Missouri’s erosion rate dropped more than any other state. It is estimated that more than 148 million tons of soil have been saved since the start of the sales tax, but millions of tons of soil still wash away every year on cultivated cropland in Missouri.

The majority of the soils side of this tax has been used to assist agricultural landowners through voluntary programs that are developed by the Soil and Water Districts Commission. They are administered by the Soil and Water Conservation Program through district boards in each of the 114 counties.

The cost-share program provides financial incentives to landowners for up to 75 percent of the cost for installation of soil conservation practices that prevent or control excessive erosion. Soil and water conservation districts provide technical support with the design, implementation and maintenance of practices.

By promoting good farming techniques that help keep soil on the fields and waters clean, each soil and water conservation district is conserving the productivity of Missouri’s working lands.

The Boone County SWCD was formed in July 1944.  It was the 13th district organized in Missouri.  In 1944, there were an estimated 2,800 farms on approximately 387,000 acres of agricultural land.  Today there are an estimated 1,400 farms on aproximately 270,000 acres of agricultural land.  Technical assistance for erosion control has always been the primary purpose of the SWCD.  Since the parks, soils and water sales tax enacted in 1984, funds have been avalable to assist landowners financially to implement practices.  These cost-share funds have been used for erosion control and grazing/hayland mangement.  This tax was renewed for the third time in 2007.  The Boone County SWCD works in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).