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History of NRCS in Michigan

NRCS - 1935-2010: A Conservation Legacy of Helping People Help the Land

Agency History

  • In 1933 the Soil Erosion Service is created in the Department of Interior with Hugh Bennett as Chief. Bennett served as Chief of SES and, later, the Soil Conservation Service until November 13, 1951.

  • The Soil Conservation Service was established in the U. S. Department of Agriculture by Congress in 1935 to plan and carry out a national program to conserve and develop our soil and water resources.

  • In 1937 President Roosevelt urged governors of all states to pass legislation authorizing the creation of Soil Conservation Districts.

  • The first Soil Conservation District was organized in the Brown Creek watershed of North Carolina on August 4, 1937.

  • The Federal Crop Insurance Reform and Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act was passed in 1994 and initiated a major reorganization of the USDA. SCS was renamed the Natural Resources Conservation Service to better reflect the scope of the agency’s mission.

NRCS-Michigan History

  • In 1934 the first erosion control demonstration project in Michigan was established in Berrien County with headquarters at Benton Harbor. The project included the northern, or Millburg area, of 28,000 acres, and the southern, or Baroda area, of 7,500 acres.

  • The second erosion control demonstration was established at Howell in 1937.

  • The Michigan Soil Conservation Districts Law was passed by the Michigan legislature as Act 297, P.A. 1937.

  • In 1937 the West Ottawa Soil Conservation District was the first to organize in Michigan. It was the first district organized in the United States east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio River. The district included the west seven townships in Ottawa County.

  • The Michigan Association of Soil Conservation Districts was organized on December 9, 1940. It was organized by the leaders of seven soil conservation districts. The districts included were the West Ottawa, South Muskegon, North Muskegon, Mason, Fenton, Allegan, and St. Joe River.





Hugh Hammond Bennett at West Ottawa District Nursery

Hugh Hammond Bennett (right), first Chief of the Soil Conservation Service, inspects seedlings at the West Ottawa District Nursery.

Dewey Hill tree planting event 1941

On April 19, 1941, 800 people took part in a tree planting event on a large sand dune known as “Dewey Hill” near Grand Haven. H. H. Bennett, the first Chief of the SCS, planted the first tree.