Discover plans, educational programs, and technical information about soil and water conservation.
The Mission of the Olmsted Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is to promote more sustainable resources utilization and protection of natural resources in the County. The Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) assists farmers, communities, watershed planners and landowners in developing and implementing conservation and resource management systems and practices including tree sales. The Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) also serves as a source for conservation and resource information and provides environmental education for county residents.
NOTICE - Office Closure
Given the on-going concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic and for the safety of employees, Olmsted County has closed office buildings to the general public including the Olmsted SWCD offices. The Olmsted SWCD staff are still working and will continue to serve the residents of Olmsted County. Staff can be contacted via phone at 507-328-7070 or by email at email@example.com. We thank you for your understanding during this challenging time and look forward to working with you again as restrictions lift. Thank you!
- Skip Langer - Soil Conservation Manager
- Scott Bennett - Soil Conservation Technician
- Angela White - Soil Conservation Technician
- Aaron Gamm - Soil Conservation Technician
- Martin Larsen - Feedlot Technician
- Mark Root - Agricultural Water Quality Specialist
- Caitlin Brady - Water Resources Coordinator
The Olmsted SWCD Board of Supervisors
The local unit of government with five locally elected supervisors which provides local leadership and direction for putting conservation on the land. The board coordinates the activities of the Federal, State, and local agencies to provide conservation services and monies, develops conservation plans, educational programs, technical information and demonstrations with the expertise of Olmsted County staff, and works with farmers, other individuals, cities, townships, and counties to plan and install conservation measures.
Soil and Water Conservation Districts were organized as a result of the 1930's "Dust Bowl". With the eight year unrelenting drought in the early 1930's, over produced land eroded and blew away with the wind. Black dust storms covered the nation with little visible sun light.
Hugh H. Bennett was instrumental in the passage of the Soil Conservation Act of 1935. The act was the beginning of the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) agency of the US Department of Agriculture, which is known today as the Farm Service Agency. Programs where established assisting farmers with financial payments to apply new farming practices to their land. Conservation practices included planting trees for shelter belts, crop rotation, contour and strip plowing, and cover grasses.
To make private land conservation a success it would take local farmers acceptance and the promotion of new farming practices. President Roosevelt realized this and in 1937 appealed to states recommending legislation to allow the formation of Soil Conservation Districts by local landowners.
The Upper Zumbro Soil and Water Conservation District was established September 25, 1940 under MS 103C as a governmental subdivision of the state. This District was to be the state's fifth established Soil and Water Conservation District.
The Upper Zumbro Soil and Water Conservation District encompassed eight Olmsted County townships and three Dodge County townships. On petition from farm owners the nine remaining townships in Dodge County were added in September of 1944. In 1945 the remaining ten townships of Olmsted County were added. The division of Olmsted and Dodge Counties was decided in June of 1947. This resulted in the Upper Zumbro Soil and Water Conservation District encompassing all of Olmsted County as it is today. It wasn't until October 10, 1978 that the District changed its' name to what we know it as "Olmsted Soil and Water Conservation District".
State Cost Share
Ag BMP Loan
Cover Crop Program
MN CREP Program
The federal Clean Water Act requires states to adopt water quality standards to protect lakes, streams, and wetlands from pollution. The standards define how much of a pollutant (bacteria, nutrients, turbidity, mercury, etc.) can be in the water and still meet designated uses, such as drinking water, fishing, and swimming. A water body is “impaired” if it fails to meet one or more water quality standards. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is responsible for assessing the lakes and streams in Minnesota for impairments.
Tree Sale Program
Olmsted County sells trees and shrubs in bundles of 20 to 25 bare root transplants (2-3 years old). This is an inexpensive way to add color and beauty to your property. Sale typically opens in October and trees are delivered mid to late April.
Purchase a Plat Book
The 2018 Plat Book is currently on sale. Plat Books are typically published every 4 years. The cost for a Plat Book is $35 plus tax.
You can find more recent information through Olmsted County GIS Services. However, information with "in-process" status is not available until officially recorded.
You can purchase a Plat Book at any of these three locations:
Olmsted County Government Center
Property Records Licensing
151 4th Street SE
Rochester, MN 55904
Soil & Water Conservation District
2122 Campus Drive SE Suite 200
Rochester, MN 55904
Public Works Service Center
1188 50th Street SE
Rochester, MN 55904
We accept: cash, check, credit/debit card. (There is a 2.49% convenience fee for all credit/debit card purchases.)
Wetland Conservation Act (WCA)
Wetlands 101: What to Know Before You Work
Minnesota’s landscape includes roughly 10.6 million acres of wetlands. While many people think of wetlands as swampy, marshy areas with standing water and cattails, the reality is wetlands take on many forms. In addition to swampy, marshy areas, wetlands can vary from grassy meadows, to forested wetlands covered in trees and shrubs, to wet areas of cultivated farm fields. Many wetlands are actually dry for most of the year, with no standing water.
Why Wetlands Matter?
Before European settlement, studies estimate Minnesota had over 20 million acres of wetland. Today that number has been cut in half. Wetlands are important ecosystems. They hold water, providing for natural water quality improvements by filtering nutrients and sediment that might otherwise pollute and clog waterways. They provide flood protection and shoreline erosion control. Wetlands are also home to many species of fish and wildlife.
Most wetlands in Minnesota are protected by State and/or Federal law, and in some cases by local ordinances. Minnesota’s primary wetland protection law is the Wetland Conservation Act. The law is implemented by local governments, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources provides assistance and oversight, and the Department of Natural Resources provides enforcement. The State law applies to all wetlands, including those on private property, to achieve “no net loss” of wetlands. In general, wetland protection laws regulate activities in or near wetlands that can negatively affect the wetland through draining, filling, or excavating. There are some exemptions contained within State law for certain activities.
What You Should Know
It can be very difficult to identify wetlands and wetland regulations can be quite complex. Some examples of projects that could potentially affect wetlands include:
- Tiling wet areas of cultivated fields
- Digging a pond in a low area
- Cleaning out an old ditch or improving an existing ditch
- Adding fill for a crossing of a stream or wet swale
- Filling a low area of a residential lot for a building or lawn
If there is the potential for your project to impact a wetland, before you start it is important to contact your local WCA regulatory authority to:
- Find out if the land you intend to alter is a wetland. Remember, an area can be a wetland even if it does not appear wet on the surface.
- Determine if the proposed activity has impacts to a wetland area.
- Assure that any impact to wetlands can be avoided if possible, and properly replaced if not.
If you don’t know where to start, your local Soil and Water Conservation District can help you determine which agency is your local contact.
Cooperation is a key component of successful conservation. Local, state, and federal wetland regulatory agencies work in partnership with landowners to help them achieve the best possible results on their private land.
In Olmsted County, contact the Olmsted Soil and Water Conservation District for more information about your property and how your project could impact wetlands. Contact us by phone at 507-328-7070 or by mail at 2122 Campus Drive SE, Suite 200 Rochester MN 55904.
Financial Report & Audit
- Whitewater Joint Powers Board
- University of Minnesota Extension Office - Soil Testing
- Minnesota Water and Soil Resources Clean Water Fund stories
More information coming soon.