Soil, Water Conservation meeting planned tonight

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It was 75 years ago the Cherokee County Conservation District held their first annual meeting.

Just ten years after the passage of the Conservation Bill HR 7064, on March 6, 1935 counties were allowed to organize as Conservation Districts. These district offices to be staffed by conservation technicians from the New Erosion Control Service.

Tonight (Monday) February 22, the Cherokee County District will hold their 75th annual meeting.

Over those 75 years millions of dollars have been spent in this county on soil and water conservation.

Every year the district has held these annual meetings to report to the taxpayers what they have accomplished and

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the district to curtail some of the usual festivities such as their annual chicken dinner, the importance of reporting their activities requires the meeting.

The meeting will be called to order at 6 p.m. in the Columbus High School Auditorium by Chairman Jeff Clark.

Highlighting the meeting will be a NRCS Program updates by Dennis Ware, NRCS Supervisory District Conservationist and FSA program updates by Renae Lucas, FSA County Executive Director.

Announcing the Kansas Banker’s Award recipients, Joe and Pat Carlson, will be County Agent Dale Helwig. The sign and award will be presented by Jim Gaither, American Bank, County Key Banker.

The annual Soil and Water Conservation meeting holds two purposes, a reminder of the reason for the conservation district and a vow that it can never happen again.

One law, Conservation Bill HR 7064, changed the world, not only for farmers but for anyone who eats.

His name was Hugh Hammond Bennett, born in 1881 on the banks of the Pee Dee River in Anson County, North Carolina.

When Hugh was ten years old, he was helping his father lay out terrace lines on their farm.

The lanky Hugh asked, “Papa why are we going to all this work?”

“To keep the soil from washing away,” his father replied.

It was at that moment the seed of conservation was planted in what was soon to become a brilliant mind

Ȧs a chemistry graduate the big gangly Bennett went to work in Washington D.C. in 1903 with the Bureau of soils.

He got the assignment he wanted, classifying mapping and studying how to prevent erosion. All the while erosion of our soils became a catastrophe.

After WWI farmers were selling wheat for $1.25 to $1.50 a bushel, the stock market crash occurred in 1929, the price of wheat fell to 25-cents a bushel.

Farmers plowed up more virgin soil to plant wheat to offset their losses.

Then it happened— a severe and sustained drought began that culminated into huge black dust storms which blew away the livelihood of thousands of people, farmers and businessmen alike were ruined.

The dust storms were a blessing in disguise, from the bowels of the huge dust storms was born “the healers of the land,” the Soil Conservation Service.

Their orders were direct and to the point—stop the land from blowing away

Ṫhis they did with the help of God and the conservation farmer. But the worst was yet to come.

April 14, 1935, was known as Black Sunday. It was a beautiful Sunday. Everyone thought the dusty days were over, but it was not to be.

The winds once again started to rise, and by noon the landscape was covered by complete darkness and dust.

The storm headed east across Kansas.

This was the day Big Hugh Bennett got his chance with the sun obscured and the street lights turned on at noon in our nation’s capital.

With tears in his eyes, but Bennett appeared before the committee begging and pleading for the passage of HR7054. The bill passed both Houses with no dissenting vote.

Farming is the most honored and life sustaining occupation of the entire population of the world.

Not only are the eyes of the American people looking at the American farmer for food, the eyes of the hungry people of the world are also gazing toward him. They know he has the resources, the equipment and the technology to feed them all.