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 (SCS) within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In February 1937 President Roosevelt promoted legislation to be implemented at the state level stating the need “to supplement the federal programs and safeguard their results, state legislation is needed”. In response, The Oregon Legislature passed (August 5, 1939) a Soil Conservation District Law, charged with directing programs to protect local renewable natural resources. A Soil Conservation committee was created and Soil Districts began, forming partnerships that still exist today.
- The first ever Soil Conversation District 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. From that smaller districts formed.
- December 22, 1954 Upper Willamette SCD formed
- 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 SCD consolidated with Upper Willamette SWCD (Water officially added to the name)
- May 3, 1988 the East Lane SWCD was formed, with a consolidation of the North Lane SWCD and the Upper Willamette SWCD
- Lastly, March 4, 2008 East Lane SWCD officially reclaimed the name of Upper Willamette Soil & Water Conservation District (UWSWCD), as it remains down to this day.
On July 1, 1981 the Oregon Legislature had merged the Soil Water Conservation Commission with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA); thusly 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.