The Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission (Conservation Commission) focuses on Conservation the Idaho Way - voluntary stewardship vs. regulatory mandates. We promote responsible stewardship by providing cost sharing and technical expertise for conservation projects on private land throughout Idaho. Proactive, non-regulatory projects are beneficial because they address issues of concern and help avoid costly lawsuits and onerous regulations.
Conservation the Idaho Way is locally led by Idaho farmers, dating back to the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. In 1939, the Idaho Legislature established a bottom-up approach to voluntary conservation, and today, local people still lead conservation efforts. The Conservation Commission and our partners - local soil and water conservation districts (districts), the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and others - combine effort to assist farmers and ranchers engaged in voluntary stewardship activities. Together, we are the heartbeat of voluntary conservation in Idaho.
Today, there are 50 local soil and water conservation districts located from Bonners Ferry to Montpelier. Their efforts are guided by 5-year plans containing conservation goals, priority projects and activities. We provide funding and technical staff to empower districts- - the boots on the ground -- to get things done.
The Idaho Legislature appropriated $2.7 million to the Conservation Commission in FY 2014 to support voluntary conservation in Idaho, $1.1 million of which goes directly to districts for projects and operations. Because we’re committed to being good stewards of public funds, we all work to wring every last drop of conservation from every dollar invested.
In addition, we provide incentive programs and technical assistance to promote and support Conservation the Idaho Way. With a staff of 16 full time employees located around the state, we work with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to create voluntary Agricultural and Grazing Implementation Plans on Idaho’s 303(d) listed waterways. Our plans integrate the use of a variety of best management practices to reduce pollutant loads and safeguard water quality.
While we began working 75 years ago to reduce soil erosion, our efforts now include soil, water, plants, air, and wildlife conservation activities.