Letters From the West

Idaho Soil Conservation Commission celebrates 75th year

The Idaho Soil & Water Conservation Commission held a press conference today at the Capitol to celebrate its 75th anniversary.

It was created by the Idaho Legislature in 1939 when nearly half the state — 27.2 million acres of farmland — were eroding away in the wind and the water. Its success, then and now, came fa public private partnership.

“Voluntary, proactive conservation work on Idaho’s private farmlands, rangelands and forest lands has been going since the Dust Bowl era and the Great Depression,” said H. Norman Wright, chairman of the Conservation Commission from American Falls.

Today the Commission, the Office of Species Conservation and the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, work with local soil and water conservation districts, and private landowners on hundreds of ag-related conservation projects every year.

“More than $37.9 million in conservation projects were done in Idaho in 2013. These investments lead to spin-off jobs and income throughout the state.

Many of the projects help the state meet its requirements to improve water quality. Others improve habitat for fish and wildlife including endangered salmon and sage grouse.

“The agricultural lands of Idaho that provide our food, fiber and fuel are also critical in preserving our wildlife populations and the state’s outdoor heritage,” said Virgil Moore, Director of Idaho Fish and Game. “The Department recognizes and appreciates how important landowners are as stewards of wildlife habitat in Idaho.”

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West