De Beque/Plateau Valley Conservation District Annual Meeting
Grand Junction, Colo.
The dust bowl of the 1930s brought about the need to conserve our soil. It was due to this need that the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) was formed. Following the forming of the NRCS then President, FDR, developed a model Conservation District Law, to be considered by all states.
In May of 1937, Colorado passed an act enabling the forming of conservation districts. The first districts were formed in 1938. Over 135 districts have been created in their original form, although, due to consolidation, 76 districts are currently active.
The De Beque Conservation District was formed in 1944 and the Plateau Valley Conservation District was formed in 1943. The districts were combined in 1968.
The history is foggy as no official records were kept over the years. This is not unusual. The original State act said that any five adjoining landowners could form a conservation district, leaving the formation up to each County Agent. It is assumed that both conservation districts were formed by a few of the original ranchers in both De Beque and Plateau Valley.
Today the district includes the east end of Mesa County and the Roan Creek Watershed in Garfield County in Western Colorado. It consists of 700,000 acres with over 300,000 of it privately owned. As you travel the De Beque/Plateau Valley area be assured that the Conservation District has helped develop, in some form, the majority of the lush green fields full of cattle and wildlife. It has helped design water systems, promoted efficient use of the water and trained the ranchers how to identify erosion, weed and insect problems.
The Conservation District is funded by many sources. State and Federal government have been the main source throughout the years. Today, with government budgets so constrained, the Conservation Districts are forced more and more to find outside monies. The counties help with grants, such as weed control, but their budgets are also tight.
The De Beque/Plateau Valley Conservation District has recently started going to the energy industry to lend a helping hand. While many may say that this is a strange combination, to say conservation and the energy industry in the same sentence, this could be no further from the truth. The first chief of the U.S. Forestry Service, Gifford Pinchot stated:
“The central thing for which conservation stands is to make this country the best place to live in, both for us and our descendants. Its against the waste of natural resources that cannot be renewed such as coal and iron …”
The De Beque/Plateau Valley Conservation District is displaying this joint venture with the natural gas industry on September 24, 2011. They are holding their annual meeting, which EnCana and Elkhorn Holdings will sponsor, as an ox roast at CJS Farm on Salt Creek Road in Collbran, Colo. It is open to area landowners, their families and friends. It will be a day of fun and information with a theme of Ranch Preservation.
Mesa Land Trust, Community Counts, Plateau Valley FFA, Ute Water, Plateau Valley CattleWomen, NRCS and others will also help with the event. It will run from 9:30 a.m. through the afternoon with many speakers presenting short talks on a variety of ranch topics. The kids will have many activities to keep them occupied. Lunch will be potluck with the main course being a steer purchased at the Mesa County Fair by EnCana.
Please RSVP no later than September 16, 2011 at (970) 242-4511, ext. 100.
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This the first in a six-part series of articles covering basic water law in the United States, predominately in the western part of the country, and how it affects this finite resource.