The Barry Conservation District’s (BCD) mission is to promote responsible natural resource and land-use management for present and future generations. BCD works on a wide variety of conservation, education, and outreach initiatives including forestry, farm practices, invasive species management, water resource conservation, land management, and outdoor recreation.
Nationwide, more than 3,000 locally-governed Conservation Districts are operating to solve conservation problems. The guiding philosophy of all Conservation Districts is that conservation decisions should be made at a local level with technical assistance provided by government.
In the 107 years between the arrival of the first settlers to Barry County and the adoption of the Michigan Soil Conservation District Law of 1937, thousands of acres in the county were rendered unfit for farming due to erosion. These “worn out” lands caused people to move away. Schools and businesses were closed as a result. Idled farmland was evident in every township.
Recognizing the problem, Barry County Agricultural Agent Harold J. Foster joined with the Farm Bureau and others interested in promoting conservation and formed the Barry Soil Conservation District was in November 1944. The District encompasses all of Barry County, including townships, cities and incorporated villages.
Over the years, the role of the Barry Conservation District has evolved somewhat. The district now works closely with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to bring cost share programs to county farmers implementing soil, water and habitat conservation practices. Additionally, the district developed partnerships with the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) to provide resource conservation assistance to both farming and non-farm landowners.
In 1975, the District’s name was changed to the Barry Soil and Water Conservation District to recognize the importance of water as a resource. By 1999, when the District’s Board of Directors completed a new resource assessment, they recognized that many other resources including forestland, grasslands, wetlands, and certain declining plant and animal species needed attention. By changing their name to the Barry Conservation District, the Board expressed the increasingly broad conservation challenges created by a developing community.