A change is going to be taking place for the Redwood Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) starting in 2019.

After holding several discussions and planning meetings, it has been determined that the local SWCD program will best be served under the auspices of Redwood County.

As of Jan. 1, 2019, the Redwood SWCD will become part of the Redwood County Environmental Office.

According to Scott Wold, Redwood County Environmental Office director, the reason for the change is multi-faceted, but in the end it is about helping to create efficiencies in the county and to save the taxpayers of the county money.

The reason why the change is happening now is that Marilyn Bernhardson, current Redwood SWCD administrator, is going to be retiring in 2019.

The idea to bring the two programs together has been in the works for some time, said Bernhardson, although she emphasized the fact that the SWCD will maintain its autonomy.

Wold said all of the people who work for the SWCD will become Redwood County employees as part of the change, and in the transition period a deputy administrator has been hired who will eventually take over more of the roles Bernhardson has been doing for the SWCD. 

Bernhardson said the change will allow those working in the SWCD to better serve the public, as the focus will be much more on implementing programs and less on the administrative duties of things, such as payroll.

“The Redwood Soil and Water Conservation District has been looked to as one of the leaders in the state,” said Bernhardson, adding she is confident that is not going to change.

The Redwood SWCD will continue to be housed at its current location on Bridge Street in the same office as the Farm Service Agency. The SWCD board of supervisors will also remain intact, with the process of board elections also continuing as part of the change.

Wold said Bernhardson has done a great job for the county through the SWCD, and he knows those who will be taking over in that role are going to have big shoes to fill.

Bernhardson added even though she will be retiring from her role as the SWCD administrator, she will still be working with the program through the leadership transition. She said there is so much to learn about implementing programs, and she wants to share the knowledge she has gained over the decades with those who will be working as the program proceeds.

The goal of the SWCD will continue as it has over the years to enhance Redwood County’s environment through the implementation of federal and state programs addressing everything from soil quality to water quality for the future.