|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 farmsand 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
|The following diagram depicts the inter-relationship between the NRCS,
SWCC and local Districts: