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Soil and Water Conservatiom District Board seeking members

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

If you're a resident in Cherokee County who is eligible to vote in a general election, you're an eligible candidate for the Cherokee Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Board.

In Iowa, Conservation Districts are managed by five commissioners elected on the general ballot to serve four-year terms with one commissioner per township.

With assistance from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship-Division of Soil Conservation and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, commissioners address the natural resource issues that are most critical in their districts.

The major criteria for being a successful commissioner is an interest in natural resources and the people of Cherokee County.

Candidates for commissioner are elected in even numbered years with no political party designated. Positions are rotated so that two or three commissioners are up for election out of the five-member board. Townships open in November 2012 are: Afton, Amherst, Cedar, Cherokee, Grand Meadow, Liberty, Marcus, Pilot, Rock, Sheridan, Silver, Spring, Tilden, and Willow.

You need a nomination petition from the SWCD office to be signed by at least 25 eligible voters and an affidavit stating your name, residence and an assurance that you are an eligible candidate. These must be filed with the County Auditor no later than 5 p.m. on Aug. 29. The next general election having commissioners on the ballot will be November 6th, 2012. If elected, you will take an oath of office January 2nd, 2013.

Districts offer services without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, political beliefs or marital status. Studies have shown that where minorities and/or women are represented on boards in proportion to their presence in the area, program participation by these groups increased. District boards are seeking more diversity in their representation.

To help broaden interest in district programs and to bring different perspectives, districts encourage members from these groups to consider serving as a soil and water conservation district commissioner. Contact the district's office for more information, 712-225-4151, 314 Lake Street, Cherokee, IA 51012.

These web sites are also available: www.agriculture.state.ia.us or www.cdiowa.org/.

Commissioner's Role:

A commissioner is a volunteer conservation promoter in the community. You are reimbursed for expenses and protected from personal liability. Among other things, you'll be expected to take part in regular monthly meetings, become knowledgeable of the Soil and Water Conservation (SWC) laws and programs, develop and carry out SWC plans, and help direct financial incentives programs. Your involvement will include activities such as soil loss complaints, establishing acceptable soil loss limits, publishing an annual report, approving soil conservation plans, and assisting in the management of district funds and personnel.

Commissioners also help direct such activities as field days, educational meetings and materials, contests, awards programs, and publicity. You'll help decide the direction of SWC programs in the county, and have the opportunity to influence state and national conservation programs.

Conservation Districts' Role:

Soil and water conservation districts are legal subdivisions of state government who work closely with a number of local, state, and federal agencies in particular, the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship - Division of Soil Conservation. The Division assists Districts with administration of state and local programs, including financial incentive programs, and assigns state technical and secretarial people to Districts. The NRCS also works through Districts providing technical assistance and office space.

Districts play a key role in carrying out federal programs including, but not limited to:

* The Conservation Reserve Program

* The Environmental Quality Incentives Program Conservation Compliance

* The Wetlands Reserve Program conservation planning

Districts serve as local sponsors for watershed projects, resource conservation and development areas, and soil surveys.

Other entities the Cherokee Soil & Water Conservation District works with include Cherokee County Board of Supervisors, Cherokee County Conservation Board, Conservation Districts of Iowa, State Soil Conservation Committee, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Cooperative Extension Service, USDA Farm Service Agency, as well as with local groups and organizations.

Assistant Commissioners:

Assistant commissioners operate much as commissioners with the exception that they may not make motions or vote. There is no limit to the number of Assistant commissioners from any one township and they may also come from a township where there is a seated commissioner. They are appointed by the district Chairperson for a one-year term. Assistant commissioner expenses are reimbursable the same as commissioners.

Some specific duties of assistant commissioners could be as follows:

* Serve as treasurer.

* Assist in district operation.

* Distribute soil stewardship material.

* Conduct watershed meeting

* Poster contest

* District newsletter

* Work with program planning

* Annual report

* Present informational meetings

* Projects to aid financing district programs

* Educational committee



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