Steele County SWCD
235 Cedardale Dr.
Owatonna, MN 55060

Ph: (507) 451-6730 - Ext.3

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What is an SWCD?


Our district was formed in 1946 as a result of the
dust bowl era in the 1930's.

Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) are political subdivisions of the State established under Minnesota Statute 103C. Each SWCD is governed by a board of elected supervisors.

There are 91 SWCDs in Minnesota, providing 100% coverage of the state. There is at least one SWCD in each of the 87 counties, and a few of the larger counties have more than one.

The first SWCD in Minnesota was created in 1938 to encourage landowners to conserve soil and water resources. Statewide, 75% of Minnesota lands are in private ownership. In agricultural regions, the number is quite often 95%.

SWCDs fill the crucial niche of providing land and water conservation services to owners of private lands. Managing private lands in a way that promotes a sound economy and sustains and enhances natural resources is key to Minnesota’s environmental health. Private landowners trust SWCDs to provide needed technology, funding and educational services because they are established in each community, governed by local leaders and focused on conservation of local soil and water resources.

SWCDs work to reduce non-point source pollution to make Minnesota's lakes and rivers fishable and swimmable. Non-point source (NPS) pollution is a term for polluted runoff. Water washing over the land, whether from rain, car washing, or the watering of crops or lawns, picks up an array of contaminants, including oil and sand from roadways, agricultural chemicals from farmland, and nutrients and toxic materials from urban and suburban areas. This runoff finds its way into our waterways, either directly or through storm drain collection systems. The term non-point is used to distinguish this type of diffuse pollution from point source pollution, which comes from specific sources, such as sewage treatment plants or industrial facilities.

Landowners across Minnesota count on SWCD technical assistance with conservation practices that protect the quality of Minnesota's greatest treasure - our natural resources.

District Origin

The Steele County Soil and Water Conservation District is located entirely within Steele County and includes all land, public and private, towns and villages. It is a legal subdivision of State Government, operating under a charter issued by the Secretary of State on March 28, 1946. The District was organized by local landowners under provisions of Minnesota Statutes Chapter 40 and Chapter 110B.

The Steele County SWCD was organized for the purpose of being an organization from which all people in Steele County could acquire assistance to develop and apply sound land use treatment measures on land within Steele County. Currently, all land resource users within Steele County are considered to be in the Steele County Soil and Water Conservation District and are eligible for resource planning assistance to develop conservation practices that will protect soil from wind and water erosion. Technical assistance is also given to help people apply those conservation practices that will protect surface and subsurface waters from pollution hazards. The mission of the SWCD is to assist in the conservation, development and productive use of soil and water resources so all people may enjoy them now and in the future.

The Steele County SWCD is managed by an elected board of five supervisors, who are responsible for directing all District activities. Each supervisor is elected for a four-year term and has an established district or area which he or she represents on the SWCD Board. The Board meets on the second Wednesday of each month. Meetings dates subject to change.