The LCCD was formed as the Lake County Soil Conservation District (LCSCD) in the 1960s by local ranchers who were concerned about the effect of mine drainage on the Arkansas River, the wildlife it supports, and ranch land it nourishes.The founders of the LCSCD focused their efforts on three areas: improving water quality by reducing heavy metal load from mine and milling waste; preventing loss of property to streambank erosion, and involving landowners in better land and water management practices.
The 1970s brought new and high profile challenges. In response to the Clean Water Act of 1973 and its possible effects on Lake County, the first public meeting concerning the clean up of waters flowing through California Gulch was hosted by the Lake County Commissioners, the LCSCD, and the Sangre de Cristo Resource, Conservation and Development Area. The decade that followed would bring testimonies concerning the effect of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Hydrologic modifications from Turquoise Lake. The flows from the dam were considered to be the main cause of streambank erosion along the Lake Fork Creek and the Arkansas River.
In 1983, the California Gulch/Yak Tunnel area was named a superfund site and the LCSCD would play a part in working with local and federal government agencies as well as private landowners in their efforts to restore the watershed in the decades that followed.
In 1993 a position for Upper Arkansas Watershed Coordinator was created with EPA funds. One of the coordinator’s main duties was to assist the LCSCD in its environmental conservation efforts along the Upper Arkansas. LCSCD, representing the Lake County Commissioners and local landowners, played an important role in giving voice to local interests on a core team working to address the many issues facing the Upper Arkansas. The team included agencies such as the EPA, Bureau of Reclamation, ASARCO, Resurrection/ Newmont Mines, US Fish and Wildlife, the Colorado Health Department, and the Department of Natural Resources.
Today, the LCCD (formally the LCSCD) continues to play an important and active role in conservation in Lake County through assisting in the Arkansas River Restoration Project, bringing educational programs to Lake County residents, and working with neighboring counties.