Farm Bureau hears about conservation district changes

BY STACI WILSON

State Conservation Commission Executive Secretary Karl Brown discussed the coming changes to county conservation district at the April 20 meeting of the Susquehanna County Farm Bureau.

Area farmers work closely with the local conservation district, utilizing many of the programs.

Brown was on hand for the Farm Bureau annual meeting to discuss the transition from county-based employees to conservation district board employees in Susquehanna County, effective June 28.

Brown said that of the 66 county conservation districts in Pennsylvania, about half of them run their own district staffs.

In the past five years, as pension liability concerns mount for counties, about a half dozen conservation districts have gone through the same transition Susquehanna County is heading to now.

Brown said that in Susquehanna County, the commissioners had pension concerns but the district board of directors also wanted control over its employees.

He has been working with the local district and the county to assist with the coming changes. “It’s a big transition – big change,” he said. “But similar counties have gone through it.”

He said the local conservation district is looking at its cash flow from the county and state government, as well as fees for services.

Brown also said the conservation district will be making decisions about what programs to continue with and the board is “actively evaluating” those options.

Although his work is now based out of Harrisburg, Brown has ties to the Susquehanna County area. Raised in Clarks Summit, he recalled annual visits to the Harford Fair as a boy; and even worked on an archeological dig in the Great Bend area.

Brown reassured the Farm Bureau members that the conservation district was not being disbanded.
“You will have all the opportunities it brings,” he said.

He also encouraged Farm Bureau members to talk with their legislators to encourage the funding of the conservation districts; and invited them to take advantage of the services offered.

Brown said he felt good about the coming transition. “You will come out the other side as strong or stronger,” he said.

The annual Susquehanna County Farm Bureau meeting was held at The View Restaurant in Clifford.
Sheriff Lance Benedict and Prothonotary Susan Eddleston, candidates running unopposed on this year’s ballot, also addressed those in attendance.