History of Conservation Districts
The Spokane Conservation District (SCD) has been active in the Spokane-area since the 1940s, teaching & facilitating sustainable land use and conservation practices to meet current needs while also planning resource use for the future.
The SCD was formed in 1973 through the consolidation of the Southwest Spokane, North Spokane, Central Spokane, and Latah-Rock Creek districts. We currently serve the citizens and resources of Spokane County, excluding Deer Park, and we work across county lines through the use of Memorandums of Understanding. An example of this is our Direct Seed Loan Program, which is administered in more than 15 Washington State counties, and a few North Idaho counties.
What is a conservation district? A conservation district provides technical assistance and tools to help landowners manage and protect natural resources throughout the United States. Conservation districts work with landowners on a voluntary basis, which means they have no regulatory authority.
Conservation districts were formed on a national level following the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, which brought attention to the need to conserve natural resources, particularly soil. A model Conservation District Law was developed in 1937 under the leadership of President Franklin Roosevelt with a goal of creating local leadership to coordinate the conservation efforts of various entities and tailor them to meet local conditions and priorities. The Washington Conservation District Law (RCW 89.08) describes the responsibilities and purpose of conservation districts, which include:
- Conduct education and demonstration projects
- Carry out improvements to conserve natural resources
- Cooperate or enter into agreements with others, including other districts
- Make equipment and materials available to landowners to assist them in conserving natural resources
- Prepare and maintain a long-range and annual work plan
- Hold public hearings, annual meetings, and perform other actions to keep citizens and agencies informed
There are now nearly 3,000 conservation districts nationwide. Nationally, conservation districts typically operate under the following general principles:
- Conservation should be led by local citizens
- The final responsibility for conservation lies with the landowner.
- Conservation districts are responsive to landowners, operators, and the community as a whole.
- The best agricultural land should be maintained for agriculture.