Washington County Soil & Water Conservation District
THE HISTORY OF THE WASHINGTON COUNTY SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
The realization by Local people that there existed in Washington County problems which individual landowners could not solve by themselves led to the formation of the Washington County Soil and Water Conservation District.
The County was officially declared a district by resolution of the Board of Supervisors on October 16, 1945. The District was formed to provide the necessary information, technical assistance, and equipment to help people with these land and water problems.
The original District Directors were Harry Booth, William J. Reid, Almon Rathburn, Ralph D. Reid and Clarence Rea. Early the following year, the District Directors signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the US Department of Agriculture which made arrangements for Soil Conservation Service personnel to be assigned to the District. These technicians provided assistance in conservation planning, and survey, design and supervision of practice installation to cooperators with the District.
George E. McGeoch of Jackson was the first cooperator approved by the Directors. Since that time over 1,000 landowners in the County have signed District agreements.
The early work of the District was carried out with very little construction equipment. Thousands of feet of drainage ditch were dynamited to improve drainage. To get more construction work done an arrangement was made with the Salem Central School to obtain a war surplus bulldozer. This bulldozer and other equipment obtained later were managed by Robert Reid. The increase in constructed soil and water conservation practices such as ponds, ditches, and stonewall and hedgerow removal attracted private contractors. In 1961, it was felt that construction work should be done entirely by private contractors, and the District then sold the construction equipment.
Other Directors involved in District operations include Harden Gibson, Edward Archambault, Frank Darfler, Herman Liebig, Howard Hanna, James Flaherty, Oscar Borden, Arthur Stoddard, Walter Skellie, Robert Hall, Anderson Foster, Mark Glasier, Charles Clark, William Skiff, John Skellie, Thomas Keys, Emerson McLenithan, Ben English, and Joseph Randles, Jr.
Soil Conservation Personnel who have assisted the District include Edward Keil, Claire Herting, Ralph Work, Billie Seay, Charles Woodruf, Leo Handler, Donald McArthur, James Garoufes, Burt Laux, Earl Gates, Robert McCarty, Stan Anderson, William Stickney, Charles Maine, and Richard Scanu.
The District has been designated by the SCS as a work Unit for training future soil conservationists. Mrs. Elizabeth Francois served as the first District Clerk. Mrs. Jane McCurry followed her. County Agents Clarence Slack, Les Rollins, and Les Nuffer have served as Secretaries to the District.
Operators of District equipment include Milton Lundberg, Lewis Slocum, Robert Slater, and Donald Cross.
The District has responded to the needs of Washington County landowners and has improved the agriculture of the County. This has resulted in more efficient production, improved land use, and higher profits for the landowners who have cooperated with the District to bring about soil and water conservation improvements.
(The above is a portion of the original 20th anniversary publication – October, 1965.)