The Soil and Water Conservation District / NRCS Link in Resource Conservation
The local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, which are entities of State government, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a Federal agency, have been "joined at the hip" since 1937. In that year, Congress established the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) and mandated that this new agency would work directly with local Soil Conservation Districts to protect the resource base on farms and ranches throughout the Nation. The old SCS has since become the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and most Soil Conservation Districts have included "water" in their names.
The NRCS is a branch of the U. S. Department of Agriculture and has a headquarters in each state. In Alabama, the NRCS headquarters is located in Auburn.
The function of NRCS at the local level is to provide technical leadership, delivery of special programs, and overall leadership of each office. Federal cost sharing typically flows through a sister agency called the Farm Services Agency, but any payments to landowners is contingent upon certification by NRCS that practices for which payments are made meet NRCS standards and specifications. The NRCS provides a District Conservationist (DC) to nearly all of the State's 67 SWCDs in Alabama and in most cases also provides at least one technician. The DC and technician work under the direction of a local, five-member District Board of Supervisors, each of whom is a local landowner.
The Soil & Water Conservation District Board provides direction for local programs and ensures that the District staff fulfill its primary mission of working with landowners to install Best Management Practices (BMPs) to control erosion, protect water quality, and provide other measures necessary to enhance and protect the environment. Both the DC and technician may also gather data to assess resource needs, provide educational programs, conduct tours, and develop other activities in support of the overall resource conservation effort. Each SWCD also has a District Administrative Coordinator (DAC) who is a local (non-Federal, non-state) worker who provides administrative support for the office. In many cases, the DAC takes a lead role in organizing meetings, providing educational programs to schools, and providing special assistance to the DC and the Board.
The State Soil and Water Conservation Committee (SWCC) is the "lead organization" for the 67 SWCDs and are responsible for providing overall administrative leadership to the Districts. The SWCC consists of six District Board members selected from six administrative areas of the state plus representatives from Auburn University's Agricultural Experiment Station, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, and Alabama Business Education. The SWCC meets quarterly while routine day-to-day operations are run by an Executive Director and a staff of four. The SWCC water Quality section consist of two contract employees who work with 319 grants provided through the Alabama Department Environmental Management (ADEM) to carry out activities related to improving our environment and protecting our natural resources.
EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation...
The Alabama Agricultural and Conservation Development Commission Program was enacted by the Legislature of Alabama on April 29, 1986. The purpose of the AACDCP is to provide financial assistance through cost-share grants to owners of land used for agricultural or timber production for applying soil conservation, water quality improvement, or reforestation and forest improvement practices in the State. Sign-up for the cost-share program occurs annually and applications are available in local Soil and Water Conservation District offices in each of the sixty-seven counties of Alabama. Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District for sign-up information.