What is a Soil and Water Conservation District?




The Dust Bowl – 1930



The 1930’s Dust Bowl disaster spurred the U.S Congress to declare soil and water conservation a national policy and priority in 1935. To elicit the active support of landowners on a local level, soil and water conservation districts serving conservation needs at a county level were created to work in partnership with the federal government. Florida Legislature passed Chapter 582, Florida Statutes (F.S.), Soil and Water Conservation law in 1937.

The Marion Soil and Water Conservation District was established in the 1940’s and was at that time called Ocklawaha Conservation District . The District several years later changed its name to the Marion Soil Conservation District and finally settled on the name of Marion Soil and Water Conservation District in 1985.

Since the inception of Ch. 582, Florida has established new state and regional governmental agencies to manage, protect, and regulate our natural systems, water supply, water quality, and flood control. These new regulatory agencies; the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), water management districts and the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) have acquired broad authorities and responsibilities that are similar to those outlined in the Soil and Water Conservation law.

Florida soil and water conservation districts have a long history with partners that assist in the implementation of their programs to help local landowners in conservation efforts through funding and technical support.

Traditionally, the three main partners are the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s (FDACS) Office of Agricultural Water Policy (OAWP), and the county that the Soil and Water Conservation District serves. Partnership with these agencies also provides additional incentive based conservation programs and funding of farm conservation programs through implementation of best management practices (BMP) that promote water quality and improvements and water conservation.