PARIS – The Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District celebrated 60 years of service to the area recently.

Established in 1946 as an agency of the state, the mission of the district is to assist farmers and landowners in controlling and preventing the erosion of soil, conserving moisture and adjusting land use for the purpose of preserving the natural resources, stabilizing agriculture, increasing farm production and income, preserving wildlife, protecting the tax base and protecting and promoting the health, safety and general welfare of the people of the county.

The conservation district mission has expanded over time from its agricultural roots, branching out to assist all land users and organizations dealing with soil and water.

Today such groups include road crews, lake associations, schools and planning boards as well as farmers.

The 60th anniversary celebration was held at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School where nearly 80 attendees were served a meal put on by Joel Kane. A cake was donated and several pies were made by Katherine Tidswell.

Jim Chandler compiled a video that was shown telling of the work of the district over the years.

Mike Micklon provided entertainment.

David Littell of the Department of Environmental Protection presented a proclamation on behalf of Gov. John Baldacci to Jeff Meserve, district board chairman, making Sept. 9 Oxford County Soil and Water Day.

Letters of commendation were received from Congressman Michael Michaud and State Agricultural Commissioner Seth Bradstreet III, who congratulated the district for conservation leadership over the last 60 years.

The district coordinates with many organizations on the federal, state and local level. They include the USDA Farm Service Agency, Cooperative Extension, Maine Forest Service, U.S. Forest Service, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, Lakes Environmental Association and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The district provides benefits and programs to Oxford County residents. Over the last two years, grants obtained by the district paid for water quality, erosion control and beautification work on Big and Little Bear Pond, the Saco River and Keoka Lake.

It continues to educate by providing a variety of workshops, hosts Agricultural Education Day at the Oxford County Fair and provides third-party site evaluations for sediment and erosion control plans for construction and development projects. Well known fundraising activities include the annual tree, shrub and trout sales.

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