Dear Editor,

Since the start of the Knox County Soil and Water Conservation District in 1940, protecting our natural resources by providing education, technical assistance and leveraging cost share funding has been our priority.

Our mission is to promote and enable natural resource stewardship. We serve the residents of Knox County by providing information about natural resource conservation, prioritizing local resource concerns, and enabling people to apply conservation practices and technologies. 

The Knox County SWCD played a pivotal role in the formation of the Knox Count Cooperative Invasive Management Area (KCCISMA) and supported the Invasive Species Ordinance. We applauded our county commissioners for being leaders in the state with this invasive ordinance. We are also extremely proud of the accomplishments Natural Resource Specialist Will Drews has made possible.

The recent action by the county commissioners to revise the Invasive Species Ordinance has weakened the effectiveness of that law and is inconsistent with the understanding that made the adoption of the original ordinance the groundbreaking success it has been.

The cost of stewardship has never been free. There are few, if any, landowners that haven’t sacrificed a great deal of time and money to put conservation practices on their land. Whether it be converting their equipment from conventional tillage to no-till, building erosion control structures, using cover crops, doing timber management, or controlling invasive species on their property just to name a few.

There have always been USDA cost share programs to incentivize this work, but rarely do they cover the entire cost of these practices nor have they been nearly adequate to meet the demand. Knox County has always been a leader in the state, if not the nation, in adapting these practices. Being willing to put stewardship ahead of personal gain is what defines the kind of conservation ethic that has made Knox County a healthier more productive place to live and it will sustain us in the future. Such a legacy is a credit to the vast majority of those who farm or own property in Knox County.

Those values should be shared by us all.

Jim Farris, Chairman Knox County SWCD

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