Missoula Conservation District formed in 1946 by a group of private landowners interested in conserving Missoula County’s natural resources. These early conservationists formed the first Board of Supervisors and included John Schroeder, Bitterroot; Lee Elliot, Clinton; Ernest Wills, Blackfoot; Allen Marcure, Frenchtown; and Charles Stahl, Hellgate.
Formation of Conservation Districts
Following the ecological disaster of the Dust Bowl, soil and water conservation quickly became a priority of the United States government. In 1933, Congress approved creation of the Soil Erosion Service, and in 1935, the Soil Conservation Service was established under the USDA and now operates as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS works to carry out demonstration projects to teach landowners the importance of conservation.
Recognizing the significance of local leadership in conservation efforts on private land, President Franklin D. Roosevelt contacted state governors to recommend legislation enabling local landowners to form Soil Conservation Districts. Conservation Districts were soon established across the country, with the state of Montana enacting legislation for Conservation Districts in 1939. Today, nearly 3,000 Conservation Districts exist nationwide, with 58 in Montana.
Conservation Districts continue to work closely and partner with NRCS across the nation, with district offices often co-located with NRCS field offices. Districts often rely heavily on NRCS to provide technical assistance and funding for project implementation to private landowners within their respective boundaries.