Legislative Tours for SWCD Support

By Woody Woodruff

Illinois Stewardship Alliance along with the Illinois Environmental Council, Prairie Rivers Network, The Nature Conservancy, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the Macoupin & Montgomery County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) all met with Illinois Representative Avery Bourne in October. This legislative meeting was part of an ongoing series of farm tours with legislators to display the conservation work that is being done throughout the state and to garner more support for the county SWCDs that are directly responsible for helping farmers implement conservation practices.

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The group met at Illinois DNR Director Wayne Rosenthal’s farm in Macoupin County to look at the conservation practices that he had applied to his farm with help from the local SWCD. From cover crops to shallow water wetlands the influence of the SWCD on the Rosenthal farm had made a huge impact on protecting natural resources for the next generation of Rosenthals. It was also stated at this event that for every one dollar spent on Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Illinois, about twenty seven new dollars is generated for conservation in the counties. Yet the state budget pitfalls are adding more cuts to the already extremely underfunded SWCDs, restricting them in their grass roots ability to protect our soil and water resources.

In addition to this latest meeting with Avery Bourne, Illinois Stewardship Alliance and the Illinois Environmental Council have partnered together to host legislative tours at PrairiEarth Farm in Atlanta, Prairie Fruits Farm in Urbana, Sola Gratia Farm in Urbana, and Joe Rothermel’s Farm in Champaign County.  Illinois Stewardship Alliance also hosted Senator Sam McCann at Woody’s Mud Prairie Farm in Morgan County with Chris Wilcox, Morgan County SWCD Board Chairman.

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Senator Sam McCann poses for a picture with Illinois Stewardship Alliance and Illinois Environmental Council staff on Woody Woodruff’s farm.

The SWCD county staff are a vital part of grass roots efforts to get conservation practices on the land and to educate farmers and landowners across all of Illinois about conservation benefits and opportunities. Please let them know you support their mission by contacting your area legislator. You can look up your state legislator here.