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Information on Minnesota State Agencies, Boards, Task Forces, and Commissions
Compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library
Board of Water and Soil Resources
Also known as:
Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources
BOWSR or BWSR
Active dates:1987 -
The BWSR mission is to improve and protect Minnesota's water and soil resources by working in partnership with local organizations and private landowners. Core functions include implementing the state's soil and water conservation policy, comprehensive local water management, and the Wetland Conservation Act as it relates to the 41.7 million acres of private land in Minnesota. The board sets a policy agenda designed to enhance service delivery though the use of local government. The board is the state's administrative agency for 90 soil and water conservation districts, 46 watershed districts, 23 metropolitan watershed management organizations, and 80 county water managers.
The earliest incarnation of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources was in 1937 when the legislature established the State Soil Conservation Committee (1937 Minn. Laws Chap. 441 Sec. 3). This committee helped organize soil and water conservation districts throughout the state and provided them with promotional, financial, and administrative assistance.
In the 1950s, the Soil Conservation Committee became part of the University of Minnesota Soils Department. In 1967, its name changed to the Soil and Water Conservation Commission. The commission stayed in the university's Soils Department until it was transferred to the Department of Natural Resources in 1971.
The committee's name changed again to the Soil and Water Conservation Board in 1975 and in 1982, it was transferred to the Department of Agriculture. At that time, its membership consisted of seven members appointed by the governor and five agency personnel representing the University of Minnesota Institute of Agriculture, the Agricultural Extension Service, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
In 1987, the Legislature combined the Soil and Water Conservation Board with two other organizations with local government and natural resource ties, the Water Resources Board and the Southern Minnesota Rivers Basin Council. This merger formed the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources as we know it today.
The Water Resources Board had been established in 1955 and primarily had jurisdiction over the establishment of watershed districts, which are special purpose local units of government that manage water within the drainage basin of lakes or river systems. The board was composed of five members appointed by the governor.
The Southern Minnesota Rivers Basin Council had been established as a commission in 1971 to prepare an overall plan for the southern Minnesota rivers basin. The commission was changed to a board in 1975 and to a council in 1983. When it was merged into the Board of Water and Soil Resources, its membership consisted of 11 members, all residents of the basin area and appointed by the governor.
Some of these details were taken from the history page on the BWSR web site.
The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources consists of 20 members, including local government representatives that deliver BWSR programs, state agencies, and citizens. Fifteen of those appointed members must be knowledgeable of water and soil problems and conditions within the state, and five are ex officio members. Board members, including the board chair, are appointed by the governor to four-year terms.
Executive Director: John Jaschke (as of 2013).
Has a Dispute Resolution Committee (103B.101 subd 10; 5 members serving at pleasure of board chair)
Record last updated:
Additional print information on this group may be available in the
Library's collection of agency notebooks. Please contact a librarian for
assistance. The Minnesota Agencies database is a work in progress.