Reaching critical massConservation board celebrates 50 year anniversary
The Washington County Conservation Board is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Washington County voters approved the creation of the conservation board in 1962. The board met for the first time in January 1963.
In those 50 years, the board has made great strides toward increasing the number of parks and ponds under county dominion, as well as undertaken projects to improve that property.
Carroll Steinbeck is the longest serving member of the conservation board in its history, having served 30 years. Steinbeck’s run was also remarkable in that at no time in those three decades did Steinbeck miss a meeting.
Steinbeck joined the board in the early 1970s and left just before the Conservation Education Center was opened in 2004. He said he joined the board because somebody asked him to, and he thought it was right up his alley.
“I was an outdoor person,” Steinbeck said. “At that time, they tried to get people to serve who were from different parts of the county.”
Steinbeck said the board sought someone from the southwest part of the county, and he fit the bill since he resided in Rubio, where he has lived for 89 years.
“When we started we had our meetings at the courthouse,” he said. “Then we moved our meetings to the old house at Marr Park.”
Steinbeck said he is proud the board has added so many acres of county parks.
“We also created several ponds in outlying areas, such as one pond a few miles east of Rubio,” he said. “I think we’ve done a good job. It’s something that the county seems to approve of. They have a very nice park out there for people to enjoy [at Marr Park], and people should be proud of it.”
Lyle Moen is a current board member who is beginning his fourth term and 16th year of service. Moen said he joined the board because it sounded like a good way to serve the community, and he enjoyed county parks and recreation.
“One of the first projects we were involved in after I got appointed was investigating the construction of the Conservation Education Center,” he said. “We raised the funds for it and it has been a huge success.”
Prior to Moen’s arrival on the board, board members such as Don Allender were instrumental in constructing the shooting range at Clemmons Creek.
“Clemmons Creek is one of the most heavily used parks in the county,” Moen said. “A lot of law enforcement and private individuals use the shooting range.”
Steve Anderson has been the executive director of Washington County Conservation since 1984, more than half the board’s lifespan so far. Anderson said that the early years of his tenure were characterized by land acquisition, whereas recent
periods have been characterized by improving existing land.
“We were pretty aggressively seeking land at first,” he said. “As time went on, we reached our critical mass. Now we’re a lot more geared toward development”
Anderson said the pace of development has quickened in the past 15 years, typified by the opening of the Conservation Education Center less than 10 years ago.
Anderson said that how the board finances its programs has changed in its lifetime.
“There are more local grants now than before,” he said. “In the board’s infancy, they had federal money to utilize. In the 1970s, there was a huge amount of federal dollars available for parks. Now the Washington Riverboat is a big player, and we get a lot of local commitments and state grants.”