Urban and Community

When conservation districts were first established in the Dust Bowl era, they mostly worked with farmers, ranchers, and forest owners. But landscapes have changed, and districts have adapted.

Like other types of landscapes, urban and suburban communities face natural resource challenges. Water quality and quantity, air quality, non-native species, habitat degradation, and reductions in open space all affect land-use management in developed and developing areas.

Districts are helping to address these natural resource issues across the nation. Past research has shown that close to 70 percent of the nation’s conservation districts are involved in some form of urban and community conservation. These include soil interpretation-protection, urban erosion and sediment control, tree planting and management, invasive species management, stormwater management, small acreage farming, and more.

NACD Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative


The Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative is one of many ways NACD is advancing conservation in developed or developing areas. In 2016, this initiative helped increase technical assistance capacity for urban agriculture conservation projects in 42 conservation districts in 25 states. The awardees were announced at NACD’s Summer Meeting on July 12, 2016 by NACD President Lee McDaniel and NRCS Chief Jason Weller.

To read descriptions for each of the proposals that received funding through the initiative, go here. To download a complete list of the proposal descriptions in PDF form, click here. To learn more about this initiative, check out the summer 2016 edition of The Resource or contact NACD Senior Advisor Deb Bogar.

Webinars


The third Thursday of every month, NACD features conservation districts and their urban and suburban conservation work through interactive webinars. The presentations are sponsored by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and archived by year here on NACD’s webinar page.

Resources


Backyard Conservation: Lawns and the Environment Program |PDF| – This outreach and education program was developed by the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company to help conservation districts team-up with urban and suburban property owners to improve soil and water quality. Among the recommended best management practices (BMPs) for landowners are proper mowing techniques and improved grass clipping and leaf management. The program also provides critical information to communities that need to meet National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II outreach requirements. Click the link above to access free, downloadable materials.

Inventory of Conservation Districts’ Urban and Community Conservation Activities |PDF| – This document details the resources and tools districts are using as they work with homeowners, municipalities, and developers to put conservation on the ground in urban or urbanizing areas. Topics addressed include soil management, water quality, and small acreage/farmland protection.

New Landowners Manual |PDF| – This manual is a great resource for current and prospective landowners to have on hand. It communicates solutions to a number of land management issues and was compiled by NACD member districts and partners.


The Urban and Community Resource Policy Group (RPG) is charged with providing guidance to NACD’s Natural Resource Policy Committee on how best to increase district visibility in urban and developing communities; strengthen district capabilities and funding; and showcase districts’ work to address resource issues specific to urban and urbanizing communities. The RPG meets monthly via teleconference and currently has four vacancies in the South Central, Northern Plains, North Central, and Pacific Regions. If you’re interested in joining the RPG, contact Senior Advisor Deb Bogar.

The members of NACD’s Urban and Community RPG are: Chair Ron Rohall of Pennsylvania, Vice Chair John Peterson of Virginia, Chris Wible of Ohio, LeAnn Harner of North Dakota, Karen Berry of Colorado, Etta Reed of Ohio, NCDEA representative Cliff Lundin of New Jersey, NASCA representative Stu Trefry of Washington, and NACD NRPC representative Tom Wehri of California.

One way to keep up with the Urban and Community RPG is to “like” their Facebook page. Through the RPG’s presence on Facebook, conservation districts and partners are able to share information and ideas, build relationships, and gain recognition for their work.

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