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The 1930’s brought an ecological disaster known as the Dust Bowl. Huge black dust storms blotted out the sun and swallowed the countryside. In the mid 1930’s, the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) was started by the efforts of three key people: M.L. Wilson, Philip Glick, and the ‘Father of Conservation’, Hugh Bennett. While testifying on Capitol Hill on April 2, 1935, soil scientist Hugh Bennett threw back the room’s curtains to reveal a sky blackened by dust. Congress immediately declared soil and water conservation a national policy and priority. Since about three-fourths of the land in the U.S. is privately owned, Congress realized that only active support from landowners would guarantee the success of conservation on private land. Thus the idea for soil and water conservation districts was born. President Roosevelt wrote letters to the Governors of each state encouraging them to implement and support Conservation Districts.

Today there are over 3000 Conservation Districts across the United States, all political subdivisions of state government, created by the legislature–one in almost every county. They have expanded over the years to serve all the conservation needs of our nation, districts educate and help local citizens conserve soil, water, forests, wildlife and other natural resources. Find out more about the Nation’s Conservation Districts here.

The Gallatin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District was formed on June 8, 1949. Supervisors were: Harold Klumph, Tom Gowin, Stuart Westlake, Delmar Moore, and John Pasha. Art Shaw, County Extension, acted as Secretary.

On January 17, 1968, the Three Rivers Soil and Water Conservation District (formed on June 20, 1944) merged with the Gallatin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District.  The Three Rivers District was dissolved at that time.

In July of 1971, the District name was changed to Gallatin Conservation District. Supervisors at the time were: Henry VanHoorn, John Buttleman, John Schutter Sr., M.J. Long, and Norman Torgerson. Today the Gallatin Conservation district (GCD) is one of 58 Conservation Districts in Montana (click here to learn more about Montana’s Conservation Districts).

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