Conservation leaders hold the Indiana Soil Conservation Board up as an example of a group helping support better water quality and the soil health movement in Indiana. Yet for many months, stretching roughly a year, the Board has not operated at full strength. Currently the Board has five members on what should be a seven-member board. Will those positions be filled, or is the Board going away?
"Absolutely the positions will be filled," says Ted McKinney, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. He insists the state soil conservation board is a vital link in the conservation partnership. Absences just take time to fill.
"We have submitted two names to be considered," McKinney says. Other groups submitting two names each include the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and Purdue University Extension, he notes.
The representatives on the Board hold specified terms and come from different regions within Indiana. One of the positions has been vacant since the death of Bill Mann, a Master Farmer, in 2013. Mann farmed in Sullivan County near New Carlisle. His sons continue the farming operation today.
The appointments will be filled by the Governor Pence. It's a process that takes some time, McKinney says.
All state boards were disbanded and then ones considered necessary were restarted when Mitch Daniels took office as governor in his first term. The state soil conservation board is one that was restarted because of its importance in seeing that there is a link between the state and other conservation partners in the soil conservation effort.
"Indiana is leading the way on improving water quality, and the board is a part of that," McKinney says.
Besides the state soil conservation Board, the conservation partnership in Indian includes IASWCD Purdue Extension, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Division of Soil Conservation within ISDA.