About Soil & Water Conservation District
According to the Florida Soil and Water Conservation Districts Supervisor Handbook, the following categories are the primary areas of concern for a local Soil and Water Conservation District:
Nutrient and Chemical Waste
Water Quality Focus
Conservation and Environmental Education
Prime, Unique, and Important Farmlands
Fish and Wildlife Habitat / Natural Systems
The Florida Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor Handbook also provides the following information about the history, powers, and duties of the Conservation District:
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. Today there are nearly 3000 conservation districts nationwide involved in efforts as varied as their conservation needs and the local citizenry they serve.
Florida’s 62 soil and water conservation districts were established in 1937 under Chapter 582 Florida Statutes. The law was based on federal model legislation to establish soil and water conservation districts nation wide. Soil and water conservation districts were originally organized, for the most part, within county boundaries by landowner petition based on a need for soil and water conservation and in the interest of public health, safety, and welfare. A soil and water conservation district so organized constitutes a governmental subdivision of the State of Florida.
The governing body of a soil and water conservation district consists of five elected supervisors. The office of a soil and water conservation district supervisor is nonpartisan and district wide. Candidates are elected in a general election to a 4-year term. Vacancies are filled by appointment by the remaining supervisors until the next regular election. Supervisors receive no monetary compensation for their services, but may be reimbursed for travel expenses. A district may hire employees and agents as needed.
Powers and Duties
Generally, the powers of districts and supervisors are quite broad and relate to the development and implementation of soil and water conservation practices on private lands, with similar responsibilities in cooperation with state and local agencies managing publicly-owned lands. These duties are performed in conjunction with federal, state, regional, and other local partners.
Under a combination of state and federal laws, including the Watershed Restoration Act and the Farm Bill, soil and water conservation districts perform duties which bring funds to their district to assist landowners in protecting natural resources by implementing agricultural best management practices, BMPs. These programs include state and federal cost-share, as well as, federal disaster relief, and emergency watershed projects. The conservation provisions of the 2002 Farm Bill are federal legislation for conservation funding targeting environmental issues.
For more information about the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Florida, please refer to the Florida Soil and Water Conservation Districts Supervisor Handbook, available online here: