Lincoln Conservation District

801 E 5th Street – Suite 2, Canton, SD 57013 | Office Phone: 605-987-2624 | Email:

History of the Lincoln District

Organizational work was started in 1940 toward the formation of a Soil Conservation District in Lincoln County. A referendum was held on February 27, 1941 to determine if a District should be organized. Seventy-nine percent of those voting were in favor of the District. The first Board of Supervisors was elected in March 1941. The Eden Township group was instrumental in the organization of the District. The original District consisted of Eden, Fairview, and Norway Townships.

The Annual Report for 1941 stated that “major conservation practices needed in the District include terracing, contour farming, grassed waterways, dikes, diversions and spreaders, gully structures, pasture seedings, pasture furrows, hayland seedings, and woody plantings.” These, plus drainage, continue to be the major conservation practices needed.

Individuals instrumental in the organization of the District were Axel Johnson, Frank Iseminger, Chris Anderson, Tillman Lappegard, Herman Johnson, John Lavik, Roy Larsgaard, Sam K. Ulrikson, Carl Hermanson, Art Fowles, Stein Larsgaard, and Erick Skamfer.

Through the efforts of the Highland Farmers Union, Highland Township was annexed to the District in 1942. A study made in 1942 indicated that corn farmed on the contour out-yielded corn farmed up and downhill by 5.8 bushels per acres. Increase in soybean yields was ten bushels and small grain was increased by two bushels.

In 1943 Lincoln and Pleasant Townships were added to the District. In September 1943 the Soil Conservation Service office was moved from Alcester to Canton. In 1944 Canton, Delaware, Brooklyn, Grant, Lynn, and Dayton Townships were added to the District. Delapre, LaValley, Perry, and Springfield Townships joined the District in 1945. Lincoln County was the 17th county in the state to be completely within the boundary of a soil conservation district.

In 1961 the District name was changed to Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District. This change indicated the growing concern of agricultural leaders of the waste and pollution of water throughout the nation.

The first board of supervisors of the District


L. to R. — Frank Iseminger, Tillman Lappegard, Axel Johnson, Herman Johnson, and Chris Anderson

Locations, Boundaries, and Description

Lincoln County is located in the southeastern part of South Dakota. The entire county makes up the Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District. The acreage of the District is approximately 366,540 acres, of which 361,530 acres are agricultural land. The District includes all the area within the county boundaries and also the area within the town sites. Canton is the county seat and the District office is located here. Lincoln County has often been judged the best agricultural county in the state of South Dakota.

The agriculture is mainly grain and livestock farming with corn, soybeans, oats, and alfalfa the main crops. Beef cattle, hogs, sheep, and dairy cattle make up the main livestock enterprises.

The District is bounded on the east by the Big Sioux River that separates South Dakota from the state of Iowa. There are sixteen legal townships with approximately 2,000 operating units which average about 180 acres per unit.

The main drainage systems are 1) Long Creek, Saddle Creek, and Snake Creek that drain to the south and west and empty into the Vermillion River; 2) Spring Creek, Nine-Mile Creek, Beaver Creek, Pattee Creek, and Brule Creek which drain to the south and east and empty into the Big Sioux River.

The southeastern third of the District and the area adjoining the Big Sioux River have a gently-to-steeply rolling topography. The north and west parts of the District are flat with a number of shallow depressions.

There are approximately thirty legal drainage districts in this flat part of the District. Some of these were organized and constructed between 1900 and 1918. A number have been developed since, but none after 1925.

ErosionOne of our most serious problems is erosion. When cultivated crops are farmed up and down the hill, the soil loss is very heavy after a good rain.


Modern farm homes are an asset to a good farm as well as to the community. A sound economy is necessary for this kind of improvement.

ChurchOne of the rural churches located in the Pattee Creek watershed. Rural churches have done much to promote soil stewardship in our District.

Problems Affecting Conservation

    1. Erosive soils in the rolling part of the county
    2. Absentee landlords
    3. Poor pasture management
    4. Lack of conservation education in the schools
    5. Human element problems
      • Resistance to change
      • Lack of interest in improving the land and the community
    6. Low net-income farmers
    7. Lack of good farm management
    8. High percentage of turnover of tenants
    9. Large farm equipment — not practical on rolling land
    10. Farmers trying to farm too many acres of cropland
    11. Lack of diversified farming

Fifty Years Later (1991)

The Lincoln Conservation District held its first meeting in March of 1941. This meeting was the beginning of many conservation decisions. And now, 50 years later, the Lincoln County Conservation District continues to forge ahead with environmental concerns, Farm Bill requirements, and many other aspects of conserving our land.

Each board of supervisors have faced their own set of problems with each era. But their hard work and dedication throughout the years have helped them meet each challenge.

These elected officials now carry out 4-year terms. The following list proves the dedication previously mentioned by the long length of time that many have served.

District Supervisors 1941-Present

Axel Johnson 1941-1942
Chris Anderson 1941- 1947
Herman Johnson 1941-1947
Frank J. Iseminger 1941-1950
Tebbo Knock 1947-1951
Oliver E. Anderson 1951-1972
Tillman Nelson 1947-1974
Sam K. Ulrikson 1941-1972
Joe Welter 1950-1970
Roy Larsgaard 1952-1976
John Frislie 1969-2012
Dick Fossum 1971-2011
Gary Rikansrud 1973-2004
Gene Thormodsgard 1975-
Bruce Beck 1977-1981
Merlyn Rennich 1981-
Milo Hemmingson 1987-1998
Rick Viereck 1996-2000
Dale Long  2004-2009
Nancy Bitterman  2013-
Craig Dittberner  2013-
Lorin Brass  2013
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