Nolan County hosts WTASWCD meeting

Nolan County hosted the West Texas Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (WTASWCD) meeting in Sweetwater on Tuesday. The group, consisting of members from several west Texas counties, toured the WASP Museum in the morning, then met at the Student Center of Texas State Technical College for lunch and a business meeting. Carol Cain and Sandra Spears led a tour at the WASP Museum and gave a brief history of the women and how they served their country during World War II.Rex Isom, Executive Director of the state Soil and Water Conservation Board, opened the meeting by welcoming and thanking the members who made the trip to Nolan County. Isom then gave updates on several programs as well as the state Soil and Water Conservation Board report.Isom then introduced J. Pete Laney and Todd Kercheval, both with the Texas Conservation Association of Water and Soil (TCAWS). Laney and Kercheval updated everyone on the happenings in the Texas legislature. "Our biggest task is to educate members of the legislature on what soil and water conservation members do," said Laney. Kercheval expanded on this by adding, "We've been promoting agriculture in the legislature as well. We've spent a lot of time in the Senate and the House making sure that funds are coming back to the counties where agriculture is so important." The goals going forward for the TCAWS are to continue educating its members and to gather information to show the Texas legislature just what those funds are going towards and what difference it is making.Bob Steakley, a member of the Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts (ATSWCD), invited everyone to the annual meeting in Fort Worth during the month of October. Jule Richmond then gave the ATSWCD report. Richmond also thanked Laney and Kercheval for their hard work.Other reports given at the meeting included the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) report by Salvador Salinas and the Texas State Soil and water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) report by representative Ben Wilde.About the West Texas Association of SWCDSEstablished in December 1974, the Nolan County SWCD consists of 1,200 farms and ranches, 590,720 acres, 455 cooperators, 560 active conservation plans, 339,137 contracted acres under a conservation plan and $10,634,985 in obligated funds to install conservation plans.Members of the West Texas Association of SWCDS include the Upper Colorado, Upper Clear Fork, Andrews, Mustang, Howard, Mitchell, Nolan, Middle Clear Fork, Midland, Glasscock, North Concho River, Coke, Runnels, Middle Concho, Tom Green, Concho and Eldorado-Divide districts.Grassroots GovernmentA soil and water conservation district is brought into existence by a vote of the landowners within the boundaries of a district. To assure geographical representation on the district's governing board, soil and water conservation districts are divided into five subdivisions. A district's governing body is called a board of directors. The board is made up of agricultural landowners — one from each of the five subdivisions. Each director must live in the district, own land in the subdivision he or she represents, and be actively engaged in farming or ranching.