The Dust Bowl brought to the nation’s attention the need to conserve soil and other natural resources. The National Industrial Recovery Act was passed in June 1933, and including funds to fight soil erosion. April 27, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the “National Menace” of soil erosion by championing the passage of the Soil Conservation Act, which established the Soil Conservation Service within the United States Department of Agriculture. In February 1937, President Roosevelt promoted legislation to be implemented at the state level, saying: “To supplement the federal programs and safeguard their results, state legislation is needed.” In response, The Oregon Legislature passed a Soil Conservation District Law on August 5, 1939, charged with directing programs to protect local renewable natural resources. A Soil Conservation committee was created, and Soil Conservation Districts began, forming partnerships that still exist today.

  • The first ever Soil Conversation District (SCD) was formed by the Brown Creek watershed in North Carolina on August 4, 1937
  • The first Soil Conservation District in Oregon became official February 10, 1940 (South Tillamook County)
  • Originally, Soil Districts were regional in Oregon; the first Lane County region was named West Central Soil Conversation District, formed June 30, 1953
  • December 22, 1954 Upper Willamette SCD formed from West Central SCD
  • August 30, 1956 North Lane SCD then formed
  • December 29, 1956 the remaining region of West Central SCD became Mid-Lane Soil Conservation District
  • May 1963 the Oregon Legislature added “and Water” to the name of Soil Conservation Districts
  • May 20, 1971 Mid-Lane consolidated with Upper Willamette Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)
  • May 3, 1988 the East Lane SWCD was formed, with a consolidation of the North Lane SWCD and the Upper Willamette SWCD
  • March 4, 2008 East Lane SWCD officially reclaimed the name of Upper Willamette Soil and Water Conservation District (UWSWCD), which is still the name today

On July 1, 1981, the Oregon Legislature had merged the Soil Water Conservation Commission with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), forming a Soil & Water Conservation division of the ODA. This division provides administrative oversight for the Soil & Water Conservation Districts. Today, it is known as the Natural Resources Division.

​In 1994, the USDA Soil Conservation Service was changed to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and is a vital partner in conservation efforts.


The Dust Bowl began in 1932.

Perhaps no event did more to emphasize the severity of the erosion crisis in the popular imagination than the Dust Bowl. Beginning in 1932, persistent drought conditions on the Great Plains caused widespread crop failures and exposed the region’s soil to blowing wind.


The Soil Conservation Act passed in 1935.

The Soil Conservation Act was passed April 27, 1935 amid the Dust Bowl, leading to the creation of the Soil Conservation Service, now NRCS.


A huge dust storm

A huge dust storm moves across the land during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.


"What would be the feeling of this Nation should a foreign nation suddenly enter the United States and destroy 90,000 acres of land, as erosion has been allowed to do in a single county?"
~ H.H. Bennett, NRCS’ first Chief.


Willamette Valley Farm


Eugene and Valley in the 1960s


Riparian Restoration Priority in the 1960s


Early Agriculture Irrigation in the 1960s


Eugene in the 1960s


Munn Farm in 1966

Pasture land on Munn Farm near EWEB canal diverting water from the McKenzie River (1966).


Hulbert Lake Project in 1968

View of Farm land benefiting from Hulbert Lake Project in 1968


1969 drain line installation project

1969 Jackson Farm drain line installation project


Flooding in the 1960s


1966 Mink Farm daily farming operations

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Watch: “Past, Present, and Future of Conservation Districts”