In 1955, the Iowa State Legislature passed a law permitting counties to establish County Conservation Boards. The Marion County Conservation Board was established by a vote of the people in the Fall of 1956 and became one of the 16 charter members of the first county conservation boards in the State of Iowa. The Conservation Board began operations in December of 1956.
Conservation boards are local natural resource management and outdoor recreation agencies whose responsibilities are the following: to acquire, develop, maintain and make available public museums, parks, preserves, parkways, playgrounds, recreation centers, forests, wildlife, and other conservation areas, to encourage the orderly development and conservation of natural resources and to provide adequate programs of public recreation.
Conservation boards also help educate local residents about the natural world in which we live, and administer roadside vegetation management programs.
County conservation boards have been created in all of Iowa's 99 counties and are governed by Chapter 350 of the Code of Iowa.
The law that the legislators developed is very broad. Their intent is to allow each county to create a program to fit the natural resources that are available and to meet the needs of the community. In order to make this law work, each county needs to develop a governing body. Each County Board of Supervisors selects five citizens within the county to serve a five-year term with no monetary compensation. Those people that are selected show or demonstrate an interest in the environment and conservation. It is this group that sets the policies for the county parks and programs.