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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) received the “Lawmaker of the Year” award for his support of the soil and water conservation districts in Illinois and his leadership in preserving natural resources for future generations. 

Bennett, who chairs the Senate’s Agriculture Committee, was recognized at The Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ (AISWCD) 71st Annual Meeting & Summer Training Conference in Springfield this week.

“I have tremendous respect for local soil and water conservation boards,” Bennett said. “They have an important and challenging mission of protecting and educating the public and safeguarding our state’s natural resources. The work that they do not only enhances agricultural operation, but it also improves the ecological health of our farms, our water and our environment.”

The AISWCD is a grass roots organization that provides locally-driven solutions to natural resource concerns at both the rural and urban settings. For decades, AISWCD has worked with agricultural as well as environment stakeholders to protect and sustain the viability of Illinois’ natural resources for future generations. They provide legislative advocacy, public outreach, grant support, and training and development programs to enable soil and water conservation districts in Illinois to serve their communities.

This past session, Bennett partnered with Illinois Department of Agriculture Director John Sullivan to address the issue of farm chemic runoff polluting Illinois waterways. Senate Resolution 52 calls for further steps in a plan to protect water quality by limiting nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from agricultural operations – nutrients with important beneficial effects in farming but with potentially harmful environmental consequences. The effort to protect water quality in Illinois ultimately would benefit the Mississippi River environment all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico, where nutrient runoff has contributed to a dead zone.

“Soil and water conservation districts provide a wide range of valuable services to communities, landowners, farmers and local municipalities,” Bennett said. “I look forward to continuing my work in Springfield to ensure that current laws are brought up to date to support this important work, to create opportunities for future projects and to support all that AISWCD does to protect our essential land and water resources.”

 
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