The idea for a Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) area in
northeast Indiana surfaced in 1992 when a local Soil and Water Conservation
District (SWCD) identified some natural resource needs in their county that
could best be addressed through a multi-county effort. In contacting
surrounding counties, similar needs were confirmed. The previous successes
of six established RC&Ds in Indiana led the group to consider the formation
of an RC&D in our area of the state.
A group of citizens from
DeKalb, Elkhart, LaGrange, Noble,
Steuben and Whitley Counties got together for their first regional meeting
in December 1993. The group decided to elect interim officers and establish
an RC&D to address natural resource needs in their six county area in early
1994. Dean DeVoe, representing Elkhart County Extension Board, was the
first President. The name of Wood-Land-Lakes RC&D was chosen for the
3 priorities of natural resource concerns. In September 1994, the Council
submitted its Application for official designation by the US Department of
Agriculture. County Commissioners, Purdue University Cooperative Extension
Service Boards, and Soil and Water Conservation Districts of all 6 counties
signed as sponsors.
The Council continued to meet monthly throughout the
authorization process and formed resource (education, land, water,
forestry) committees. Seminars and workshops were held on dry hydrants,
grant writing, leadership development, tree planting and pruning, and
wading through wetland regulations. Quarterly newsletters were developed
and distributed and an EPA grant was approved for local Soil & Water
District (under the umbrella of the regional RC&D). Displays and exhibits
were set up at local farm shows, field days, wetland fairs, and lake
associations. A variety of brochures were developed on topics including RC&Ds, dry
hydrants, and tree plantings.
Wood-Land-Lakes' 501(c)(3) nonprofit application was
approved by the Internal Revenue Service in 1995. Yet another milestone
was reached when it received approval and authorization for federal
funding from USDA Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman in October 1996.
However, in 2011, federal funding was revoked for all RC&D's nation-wide.
The Council consists of representatives from each of the
county commissioners, land committee, and at-large members. Amended bylaws allow the Council to fill vacant
Sponsor representative positions. The Council meets four times a year on
the 3rd Thursday in the months of February, May, August, and
It is our belief that better and more far-reaching solutions
can be achieved with cooperation and coordination. In 2001 another goal,
Rural Community Development, gained support for inclusion in the
Area Plan. Wood-Land-Lakes, the name of the RC&D, is a constant reminder of
the challenges that led to its formation.
2008, we worked on our next long range area plan. This plan will
help guide the Council for the next seven years. The plan shows
the Council's Mission, Vision, Background, and Council Structure, as
well as an overview of the area. This overview includes
geographic, natural resource, agriculture, demographic, and
socioeconomic information and graphs.
The Council's goals, objectives, and strategies revolve around land
conservation, water management, community development, and land
management. Wood-Land-Lakes RC&D projects are focused in these
four main areas.
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