The services required to keep soil and water healthy are much like the services required to keep a child healthy.

The services required to keep soil and water healthy are much like the services required to keep a child healthy. Soil and water cannot come into the doctor's office to get care; but professionally trained soil and water specialists can make care plans for soil and water health. Of course, it is the responsibility of the landowner to see that they are implemented.

Professionally trained staff waits in your Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) for landowners to come in to seek technical assistance for managing the health of the soil and water in their care. Landowners can come in when they realize that soil and water health has deteriorated and gets technical assistance for remediation. A better plan is for landowners to seek help to keep good quality soil and water healthy. Comprehensive soil and water management plans are available for the asking.

SWCD uses aerial photos to study overall soil and water conditions. The staff does make "house calls" when it is necessary. When services are requested, they may make an on-site visit to check on the soil and water that will help determine treatment options. Just as when you go to the doctor, taking those suggestions is voluntary.

Financial assistance for maintenance or remediation of soil and water health is available to landowners through local, state, and federal partners of the SWCD. The staff keeps informed of available programs providing cost-share dollars and helps landowners prepare the necessary paperwork to apply for this funding. When financial assistance is involved, the staff sometimes finds it necessary to notify the landowner that an on-site visit is required to assure that the treatment plan is being implemented.

Like doctors have partners, so does SWCD. A major partner with SWCD for programs and services is the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Together they are involved in providing technical services to landowners. Payments to landowners through government programs are dependent on conservation plans that are developed by SWCD and NRCS. Many other partners include county and city governments, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, large and small watershed partnerships, SWCD Land Use councils, Resource Conservation and Development Councils, state associations, UI Extension Service, health departments, and numerous not-for-profit conservation groups.

Just as in any health care program, education is essential. Workshops and informational tours are always on SWCD calendars. SWCDs and many partners maintain websites. Newsletters are distributed to all interested constituents.

Working behind the scenes for SWCD, a volunteer board manages budgets and personnel, maintains equipment for rental, and approves conservation plans. Staff adds support by organizing fish and tree sales, and providing field and office services.

Get a checkup. Stop by your Soil and Water Conservation District office for a consultation.