Across the United States, nearly 3,000 conservation districts—almost one in every county—are helping local people to conserve land, water, forests, wildlife and related natural resources.
Known in various parts of the country as “soil and water conservation districts,” “resource conservation districts,” “natural resource districts,” “land conservation committees” and similar names, they share a single mission: to coordinate assistance from all available sources—public and private, local, state and federal—in an effort to develop locally-driven solutions to natural resource concerns.
More than 17,000 citizens serve in elected or appointed positions on conservation districts' governing boards. The districts work directly with millions of cooperating land managers nationwide to manage and protect natural resources.
Among other things, conservation districts help:
- implement farm, ranch and forestland conservation practices to protect soil productivity, water quality and quantity, air quality and wildlife habitat;
- conserve and restore wetlands, which purify water and provide habitat for birds, fish and numerous other animals;
- protect groundwater resources;
- assist communities and homeowners to plant trees and other land cover to hold soil in place, clean the air, provide cover for wildlife and beautify neighborhoods;
- help developers control soil erosion and protect water and air quality during construction; and
- reach out to communities and schools to teach the value of natural resources and encourage conservation efforts.
Because conservation districts are established under state laws, they vary in what they are called and how they are funded. What we refer to as "conservation districts” are referred to by several other names under various state laws. Examples of states with other names follow:
- Land Conservation Departments
- Natural Resource Conservation Districts
- Natural Resources Districts
- Resource Conservation Districts
- Soil Conservation Districts
- Idaho, North Dakota, Utah, Maryland, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Tennessee
- Soil & Water Conservation Districts
- Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and the Pacific Basin