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Activities& History


What is a Conservation District?
No one is absolutely sure who first came up with the idea of conservation districts. In 1934, Hugh Hammond Bennett recommended that the district organizations could get landowners and operators involved in conservation projects. At about the same time, a report from the Department of the Interior also suggested such an organization. Wherever the idea came from, it has been essential.

In 1936, the Department of Agriculture drafted a "Standard Act" for organizing Soil Conservation Districts, and in 1937, President Roosevelt sent a copy of the document to governors of all states with a letter recommending that they act on it. The Illinois legislature passed the Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts Act of July 9, 1937. Local people in Christian County petitioned to the State to form a Conservation District, and the District was formed according to State Law on April 15, 1947.

Districts cover urban areas with concerns about erosion from construction sites as well as rural areas with concerns about erosion from crop, range and forest lands. District Boards and staff are active in protecting water quality and doing conservation education with the public. Districts consist of unique partnerships between local, federal, and state entities that have endured to meet the needs of landowners and operators.

The Function of the Conservation District

To take available technical, financial, and educational resources, whatever their source, and focus or coordinate them so that they meet the needs of the local land user.


• The Christian County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) provides soils and land use information free of charge as requested by local landowners. The District also distributes soil survey books for Christian County when requested.

•The District has facilitated a project to digitize the Soil Survey for Christian County and the Christian County Supervisor of Assessments. The remainder of the project is being completed by Natural Resources Conservation service Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysts.

• The District worked with USDA-NRCS to implement the PL-566 project to construct two large sediment retention basins at Lake Taylorville. Approximately 95% of the water flowing into Lake Taylorville is controlled by some type of sediment retention structure. This improves water quality and prolongs the life of the lake as a viable source of drinking water.

• The District offers a no-till equipment rental program for county farmers.

• The District provides cost-share to farmers through the State of Illinois, Partners for Conservation Fund.

• The District provides Natural Resource Inventory Reports (NRI's) to zoning offices in the county. These reports provide information regarding land use changes when land is changed from Agricultural to Non-Agricultural.

• The District conducts a T by 2000 tillage survey every other spring for the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The information is used to help producers in Christian County establish better tillage and erosion control practices.

• The District administered the 319 Grant from the Illinois EPA for the City of Taylorville to build sediment basins around Lake Taylorville. The District conducts yearly inspections of the basins with the City of Taylorville Lake Department.

• The District installed a Lakeshore Stabilization Demonstration Project near the marina at Lake Taylorville. This project was made possible with 2 grants that the District received. One was an Expansion Grant from Illinois Department of Agriculture and the other was a "Clean Water, Clean Air Grant" from Wal-Mart.

• The District, along with the Lower Sangamon River RC & D, provided a grant to the Taylorville Fire Protection District for the cost of materials to install a dry fire hydrant at Timber Lake Estates. This project was coordinated with David Thomas in order for him to receive his Eagle Scout status.

• The District, along with NRCS, assisted with a three acre prairie establishment at Boyd Dappert Youth Reservation on Lake Taylorville.


• The District serves on the advisory committee of the Christian County Soil Savers. The District staff helps to plan meetings and informational tours for the group.

• The District continues to support the Lake Taylorville Resource Planning Committee and its efforts.

• The District provides a newsletter four times a year to approximately 1600 producers.

• The District helped to establish the Christian County Agriculture Group. In addition, the District participates in the Agriculture Expo at the Christian County Fair and also helps sponsor the Annual Ag Appreciation Dinner at the fair, which serves over 350 people to help promote agriculture in the area.

• The District sponsors the Envirothon at Lake Springfield along with Sangamon. Macoupin, and Montgomery counties. The winning team was from Christian County and represented Christian County at the State competition at Allerton Park near Monticello. The Taylorville High School team won the state competition and participated in the National Envirothon in Flagstaff Arizona, in May 2008. The Envirothon is an educational environmental competition that focuses on soils, wildlife, aquatics, and forestry.

• The District helps sponsor the Ag Literacy position in Christian County.


• The district owns a Kinzie 3600 planter that may be rented to use for no-till planting.

• The District received an IDNR Wildlife Habitat Stamp Fund Grant and purchased a tree planter for the District. The tree planter is rented to landowners and operators in Christian County. The tree planter provides support for the CRP program when riparian buffers are required.

• The District, along with NRCS, has been working to implement several CREP conservation plans. To date we have 47 State Contracts that will cover the county. CREP is a program that utilizes Federal and State resources to retire frequently flooded and environmentally sensitive cropland. The major goal of CREP is to apply conservation practices that will reduce sedimentation and nutrients in the Illinois River watershed, while creating and enhancing habitat to increase fish and wildlife populations.
Photos courtesy of USDA NRCS