EDWARDSVILLE — Edwardsville Township Supervisor Frank Miles has been elected to the Board of Directors for the Madison County Soil and Water District (SWCD). Miles, who previously served as an appointed associate director, will serve a two-year term on the board.
“Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) are governmental bodies created by the state for the express purpose of promoting the protection and conservation of our soil, water and related natural resources,” Miles said. “Although a SWCD is a governmental body, it is not a branch of federal, state or county government. Each SWCD is a local governmental entity and is very similar to a school district.”
Miles has a long history working with the Madison County SWCD that began when he served as city planner for the city of Edwardsville from 1988 to 1992. Most recently, as the Director of Planning and Development for Madison County from 2006 to 2010, Miles established a formal relationship between the county and the district to create an inspection program for new development.
“This intergovernmental agreement allows district staff to inspect a construction site on behalf of the county for compliance to laws related to erosion and storm water management,” Miles said. “In addition the district has also entered into an agreement with the Illinois EPA to inspect any construction site over an acre for compliance to laws related to erosion and stormwater management.”
Miles pointed to some of the successes of the Madison County SWCD Board, such as getting the most Certified Erosion, Sediment and Storm Water Inspectors (CESSWI) in the state posted in Madison County.
“Madison County, through the Planning and Development Department, partners with the SWCD to help sponsor an annual Erosion and Sediment Control Field Day and conduct the testing program for the Certified Erosion, Sediment and Storm Water Inspector Program. Many local building and development officials are certified inspectors through programs administered by the SWCD,” Miles said.
SWCDs have a broad range of concerns that extend beyond the traditional focus of controlling soil erosion on cropland.
“An increased awareness of the need to protect the environment in recent years has caused districts to branch out and to address concerns in many other areas including; reduction of soil erosion, protecting water quality from agricultural and urban pollution in streams and waterways, the conversion of farmland to development, as well as monitoring urban land use and development policies. I hope to use the experiences on the board to aid the residents of our township in helping manage growth and development pressures on both Edwardsville and Glen Carbon,” said Miles, who was also recently named to the Smart Growth Local Leaders Council, as one of four regional leaders in the area to a national group that helps develop growth and development policy across the United States.
Miles said he expects to be involved in helping the Madison County SWCD prepare their annual work plan, establish policies and procedures, and work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and SWCD Resource staff in establishing priorities on the type of assistance and the areas where the assistance should be provided.
Soil and Water Conservation Districts were an outgrowth of a difficult period in the nation's history. Their creation was hastened by the ravages of soil erosion, the Great Depression, and the resulting dust storms of the 1930's. These storms brought clouds of dust from the West to the Atlantic seaboard and beyond. The destruction of millions of acres of land by soil erosion was a grave problem, not only to the farmers, but to the nation itself. On April 27, 1935, an Act of Congress established the Soil Conservation Service, formerly the Soil Erosion Service. It was set up as a permanent agency under the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) with the authority to work directly in an active program with farmers and ranchers in applying conservation practices to the land.
The name of the agency was again changed in October 1994 to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. On July 9, 1937, the Illinois General Assembly adopted the Soil and Water Conservation Districts Law, which helped the establishment of local districts within the state of Illinois. In Illinois, the first local Soil and Water District was formed as the Shiloh-O'Fallon District (St. Clair County) in July 1938 with the last district formed in Sangamon County SWCD on February 19, 1959. Madison County’s District is headquartered in Edwardsville and is staffed by representatives of the Illinois and US Departments of Agriculture and the SWCD. Funds to operate the districts come from fees and charges imposed on landowners for conservation services, an annual tree and fish sale, and grants and funds from the state and federal governments.
Since the districts were created in Illinois, there have been numerous changes to their operations with the most significant change occurring in 1977. The General Assembly amended the original act giving authority to the Illinois Department of Agriculture to develop a comprehensive state soil erosion and sediment control program. It included guidelines to be used by districts to establish and administer local erosion and sediment control programs.
SWCD’s are governed by a five-member board of directors. SWCD directors are elected by residents within the district. The board meets regularly to formulate and administer a program of work tailored to the conservation and protection of that district’s natural resources. SWCDs are responsible for promoting conservation of the soil, water, and related natural resources. To accomplish this, districts work cooperatively with other groups to increase awareness of resources, provide solutions to problems, educate the public and show the public ways of managing these resources. There are 97 SWCDs in Illinois covering all counties in the state. An amendment to the SWCD Act, effective Jan, 1, 2000, included all territory into an SWCD, making SWCD boundaries the same as county boundaries.
SWCD Board members are elected public officials charged with the task of carrying out programs of soil and water conservation for the district, within the parameters of the authority given them by the state, as well as all other statutory requirements that govern elected public officials. They receive no compensation.
Along with Miles, the following were also elected to the Madison County SWCD Board: Ken Rinkel, Ron Mulach, Ted Kauskpf and Cale Henke. The board has elected Ken Rinkel as Chair, Ron Mulach as Vice Chair and Ted Krauskopf Secretary/Treasurer.