HISTORY OF CONSERVATION DISTRICTS
The 1930’s Dust Bowl disaster spurred the United States Congress to declare soil and water conservation a national policy and priority in 1935; with the intent, to elicit the active support of landowners on a local level. Soil and water conservation districts serve as a liaison between federal government and local landowners in order to address local conservation needs. Currently, there are over 3,000 soil and water conservation districts throughout the United States. It is through these local districts that the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, formerly known as the Soil Erosion Service and later the Soil Conservation Service, promotes natural resource conservation at the local level.
In 1937, Florida Legislature passed Florida Statutes, Chapter 582, also known as the Soil and Water Conservation Law. Click here to read Chapter 582.
Association of Florida Conservation Districts
Local soil and water conservation districts depend on the Association of Florida Conservation District (AFCD) and the National Association of Florida Conservation Districts for leadership and coordination in natural resource conservation endeavors. Both agencies are nonprofit organizations. AFCD operates under the direction of its elected governing body and provides information and support services to soil and water conservation districts throughout the state.
There are 58 Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Florida, all organized by local people for the purpose of promoting and encouraging the wise use, management and general conservation of soil, water, and related natural resources.
An elected five-member, non-partisan board of supervisors, who volunteer their services, manages each soil and water conservation district. Florida has 290 supervisors.
Soil and Water Conservation Districts are non-taxing and are supported by maintaining relationships and partnership with organizations, government agencies, and receive voluntary contributions.
- To assist and enable soil and water conservation districts of Florida to accomplish collectively what they cannot accomplish individually.
- To assist soil and water conservation districts in their efforts to provide service and assistance in natural resource management and conservation.
- To provide a direct link between soil and water conservation districts and the National Association of Conservation Districts, as well as, the State of Florida.
- To strengthen AFCDs legislative presence; which will in turn, strengthen the legislative presence of each soil and water conservation district in the State of Florida.
- To build and enhance the capacity and capability of soil and water conservation districts in the State of Florida to include leadership development.
- To promote conservation education among the youth in public, home, and private schools of the State of Florida to include public speaking, environmental studies, land judging and other areas of conservation.
- To promote and increase public awareness of Florida’s soil and water conservation districts as the source for natural resources management.
- To implement effective two-way communication between AFCD and local soil and water conservation districts.
- To expand AFCDs available resources for programs and services.