Franklin County Conservation District
"Conserving our Natural Resources for the Future"
History of the Conservation District
Conservation Districts had their beginning in the 1930’s when Congress, in response to national concerns over mounting erosion and dust storms, enacted the Soil Conservation Act of 1935. The conservation district concept was developed to enlist the cooperation of landowners and occupiers in carrying out the programs authorized by the act. To encourage local participation in the program, President Roosevelt sent all state agencies a State Soil Conservation District Law. By the late 1940’s all states had adopted similar legislation.
Forming a conservation district in Franklin County was not a readily accepted idea or an easy task. Five men who had the insight and felt there was a need to conserve the land took up the challenge. These five men were: Leslie Hunter, Harry Funk, Chester Wagner, Harry Scott and H.M. Ward. Many meetings and three elections were held before the patrons of Franklin County passed the resolution to form the conservation district. The official charter was signed on April 25, 1941 making it the 14th district formed in the state of Kansas. The Cooperative Extension Service played a key role in organizing and assisting the new districts.
Each district has a governing body of five board of supervisors who are elected by local landowners and serve three year terms. They share their experience and knowledge of community needs to guide the district in setting goals and priorities for carrying out resource conservation programs. Those who have served the district as supervisors include: Edward Altic, Roland Bromert, C B Coughenour, Stephen Curtis, Andrew Duffle, Albert Dunbar, Ronald Dunbar, Karl Eisele, Bernard Fischer, Leon Freese, Grover (Steve) Froggatte, Harry Funk, Galen Harris, Edwin Horstick, Leslie Hunter, H Arlon Jones, Dwayne LaGalle, Darrell Macy, Dean Martin, Joe McAuliffe, Willie (Bill) Miller, Lawrence Murphy, David Nelson, Lloyd Nelson, J Harry Peckham, Arthur Rockhold, Cecil Rockhold, Harry Scott, Doug Smith, Donald Steward, Dale Van Horn, Gene Van Horn, Harold Van Horn, Cecil (Gene) Vining, Chester Wagner, H M Ward, Victor Warren and Clayton Watts.
Hunter served the local board for 35 years and served as president of the Kansas
Association of Conservation Districts in 1960. He also served on the Marais des
Cygnes Drainage District board and ASC Committee. Albert Dunbar also served on
the board for 35 years. Albert represented the district on the RC&D Council,
Franklin County Planning Commission and by attending many state and national
conservation conventions. Pictured at left are Leslie Hunter and Albert Dunbar.
The original concept of the district in regards to financial support was that they would meet administrative expenses from monies to be appropriated by state and local governments, but as conservation problems became more complex it became increasingly clear the responsibility of coordination became more difficult. At first few districts had staff to assist the supervisors in their many tasks. Minutes from June 1955 indicated actions were taken to approach county commissioners for the purpose of obtaining an allotment to hire a part time secretary. The county commissioners did allow a “clerical fund” so the board hired Adeline Scott as a part time stenographer. Others who have served as district employees in various positions since that time include Brian Alferman, Martha Dehn, Bonnie Ferns, Wendy Froggatte, Keri Harris, Emily Kirkpatrick, Diane Mailen, Rosalia Parker, Patricia Pressnell, Marietta Roberts, Karen Ross, Phyllis Rossman, Leland Whaley, Pauline Willford and Kathleen Wiseman.
In 1963 funds for operations did not cover expenses so a bank loan of $500 was secured with the endorsement of the supervisors to make ends meet until the 1964 funds were made available. In early 1964 a motion was made to prepare a budget to present to county commissioners for additional funding. In 1965 it was also recorded that state matching funds in the amount of $2,500 was received. The district was now funded by county and state monies for the first time. Over time the county and state funds have increased. The district began to bring in enterprise funds through the sale of marking flags, grass seed, pipe, a drill and planter for rent. This fund is used to pay for activities that are not allowable under the operations fund, which accounts for the state and county monies. Without the enterprise funds it would not have been possible for the district to meet the demands of the Food Security Act and to facilitate the purchase of the necessary office automation and field equipment necessary to carry out the provisions of FSA and Conservation Reserve Programs.
The Franklin County Conservation District was awarded the Governor's Recognition of Water Quality Improvement in 2005 for their dedication and implementation of programs to improve water quality. The Franklin County Conservation District received honors again in 2012 when District Manager Keri Harris was awarded the KACEE Award For Excellence in Conservation and Environmental Education, for her work on the District's behalf, for our environmental education programs. The Conservation District also received the Governor's Recognition of Kansas Conservation Districts Award in 2012 at the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts Annual Meeting in Wichita.
On April 9, 2007 Governor Sebelius signed HB2048 which allowed state matching funds, or state aid to conservation districts as outlined in District Law to be increase to an amount not to exceed $25,000 annually per conservation district. Franklin County District Manager Keri Harris played an active role in the process of gaining legislative support for HB2048 and SB60 during the winter of 2007. Ms. Harris traveled to Topeka in January 2007 at the invitation of Senator Derek Schmidt (Ks Senate District 15) who had introduced SB60; Ms. Harris gave testimony to both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees along with other representatives from SCC and KACD in support of the bills to increase state aid to conservation districts.
The district has participated in implementing federal resource programs by cooperating with the USDA through its various agencies including the Soil Conservation Service (now named Natural Resources Conservation Service-NRCS). Today the Franklin County Conservation District is housed within the USDA Service Center in the NRCS office. NRCS allows for office space and equipment in exchange for clerical support from the district. Districts also work closely with the Franklin County Bankers Association, Franklin County Commissioners, Franklin County Extension Office, Franklin County Farm Bureau Association, Franklin County Noxious Weed Department, Franklin County Planning & Zoning, Franklin County Recycling Dept, Hillsdale Water Quality Project, Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, Kansas Forest Service, Kansas State Research and Extension, Lake Region RC&D, Marais des Cygnes Watershed Specialist and the State Conservation Commission.
Franklin County Historical Information and Physical Characteristics
All photos, unless otherwise noted, are property of the Franklin County
Conservation District and are not to be reproduced without written permission of
the Franklin County Conservation District, Ottawa Ks
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