Mission & History


We encourage cooperation among landowners, government agencies, private organizations, and elected officials to improve natural resources thereby ensuring an adequate natural resource base for present and future generations.

We believe that knowledge, peer involvement, cooperation, and incentives are the best methods to improve soil and water resources.


The 1930’s Dust Bowl soil erosion crisis brought national attention to the importance of soil conservation. In Idaho, 1934 brought extreme drought, 56% of normal water supply, and 25% of the state had lost more than ¾ of its topsoil. Congress unanimously declared soil conservation a national policy priority. However, it became clear that the country-wide adoption of conservation practices would only be possible if communities worked together to solve the specific problems that each area faced. Conservation districts were initially formed by farmers and ranchers who wanted to come together to solve soil erosion and irrigation issues in their districts.

VSWCD has implemented natural resource conservation programs and provided assistance to local landowners since 1957. The District provides technical, financial, and educational assistance to private landowners and our community partners to help conserve soil, water, air, plant, and animal resources. All of our information is free-of-charge. The District is funded by a combination of local and state monies. Demands on soil, water, and other natural resources in Valley County are compounding and becoming more complex today than when the we organized in 1957. Over the years, our programs have adapted to meet the needs created by changing land uses, a growing population, and recreation industry.

While the District still provides support to farmers and ranchers, Valley County was “discovered” during the 1970s, and the number of farms decreased while the population of the county increased by 55%. It became clear that a voice for conservation was needed to ensure proposed developments considered soil and water quality in their plans. Since the 1980s the VSWCD has worked with the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission to provide natural resource input on proposed developments.

Since the 1970s, VSWCD has been addressing declining lake and reservoir water quality, its risks to livestock, and the increasing frequency of harmful algal blooms. VSWCD partners with federal, state, and local organizations and private landowners to implement water quality improvements in our streams, rivers, and lakes. While continuing to help farmers, ranchers, and private landowners stabilize streambanks, install center pivots, and build riparian and livestock fencing, the district helps gather and compile data for various watershed management plans for our local waterways. The North Fork Payette River Watershed Coalition is a way to accelerate this work by efficiently identifying and coordinating water quality efforts across the watershed.