The earliest incarnation of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources was in 1937 when the legislature established the State Soil Conservation Committee (1937 Minn. Laws Chap. 441 Sec. 3). This committee helped organize soil and water conservation districts throughout the state and provided them with promotional, financial, and administrative assistance.
In the 1950s, the Soil Conservation Committee became part of the University of Minnesota Soils Department. In 1967, its name changed to the Soil and Water Conservation Commission. The commission stayed in the university's Soils Department until it was transferred to the Department of Natural Resources in 1971.
The committee's name changed again to the Soil and Water Conservation Board in 1975 and in 1982, it was transferred to the Department of Agriculture. At that time, its membership consisted of seven members appointed by the governor and five agency personnel representing the University of Minnesota Institute of Agriculture, the Agricultural Extension Service, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
In 1987, the Legislature combined the Soil and Water Conservation Board with two other organizations with local government and natural resource ties, the Water Resources Board and the Southern Minnesota Rivers Basin Council. This merger formed the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources as we know it today.
The Water Resources Board had been established in 1955 and primarily had jurisdiction over the establishment of watershed districts, which are special purpose local units of government that manage water within the drainage basin of lakes or river systems. The board was composed of five members appointed by the governor.
The Southern Minnesota Rivers Basin Council had been established as a commission in 1971 to prepare an overall plan for the southern Minnesota rivers basin. The commission was changed to a board in 1975 and to a council in 1983. When it was merged into the Board of Water and Soil Resources, its membership consisted of 11 members, all residents of the basin area and appointed by the governor.
Some of these details were taken from the history page on the BWSR web site.