When first established, conservation districts worked closely with farmers, ranchers, and forest owners. However, most are authorized under state law to carry out overall natural resource management programs at the local level. So as landscapes changed, many districts also began working with homeowners, contractors and developers, planning boards, and communities to address local resource concerns. After all, those lands and resources are both altered and intensely used, and in need of districts’ expertise.
Water quality is affected by loss of permeable surfaces, pollutants from discharges and excess nutrients, inadequate drainage, while quantity is affected by overuse and sometimes misuse. Air quality is diminished by exhaust, wind erosion, and fires. Natural vegetation is disturbed and often replaced by invasive species. And open space that provides habitat for wildlife as well as other ecosystem services is being divided into small acreage uses or full-scale developments.
Districts are helping to address these natural resource issues across the nation. Past research has shown that close to 70% of the nation’s districts are involved in some level of urban and community conservation activities. These include soil interpretation-protection, urban erosion and sediment control, tree planting and management, invasive species management, stormwater management, small acreage farming and more.
The links below provide information on what conservation districts are doing in urban and community conservation along with resources and tools: