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We Have Come a Long Way

On Monday, October 21, the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District will celebrate its 70th year of providing technical assistance to landowners about good conservation practices. Formed in 1949, we have inspired and empowered residents, businesses and communities to protect and restore the health of our shared soil and water resources. As our county’s first environmental agency, we actively implement cutting edge conservation practices through education, stewardship and technical assistance.

Back in the 1950’s the Cuyahoga Soil Conservation Service became the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District. During those early years, the SWCD successfully worked with farmers and growers on soil erosion control and other conservation practices used on farms. As the suburbs grew and farmland shrank, the SWCD changed to reflect the need to meet the challenges of rapid urbanization.

The 1970’s saw the District continue with new approaches and new collaborative efforts. Staff was hired to help with outreach efforts and technical assistance about concerns related to eroding stream banks and drainage issues.

New federal and state environmental regulations compelled the SWCD to work with other governmental agencies to draft erosion and sediment control ordinances. It was in the 1980’s when the SWCD began assisting communities with erosion and sediment control, specifically on construction sites. In the late 80’s the SWCD got involved in water pollution control efforts, including stream restoration projects for erosion control, water quality and habitat improvements. Bioengineering practices were in their infancy and the Cuyahoga SWCD was an early adopter and promoter of bioengineering projects and riparian buffers.

Into the 1990’s and now almost twenty years later, the SWCD’s role in erosion and sediment control on active construction sites has expanded. We work with 19 communities to implement their erosion and sediment and post construction stormwater management programs. Along with the stormwater pollution prevention program, the SWCD also provides a wide array of conservation education programs for 52 communities, that include school and teacher programs and workshops, and plenty of opportunity for the public to be engaged.

Currently, programs are implemented by a staff of 13 working in conservation education, stormwater pollution prevention, watershed protection and natural resources. There are far too many success stories in a short blog, but we are bolstered by the numerous national, state and local recognitions that have been received—thanks to a phenomenally talented and committed staff who get the job done—and do it well!

We have come a long way! So please join us for or 70th Anniversary and Annual Meeting on Monday, October 21 from 4:30pm-6:30pm at Merwin's Wharf. It will be a celebration of our wonderful past and exciting future. Registration is free.

Blog author: Janine Rybka, Director

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