For nearly 80 years, the Soil and Water Conservation Committee has committed to conserving Alabama’s natural resources by connecting those who use and work the land to the education, technical know‐how, and resources they need.
We work to promote healthy soil, fishable and drinkable water, sustainable forests, and clean air to cultivate a prosperous farming industry and improve quality of life for all Alabama citizens.
To help continue our mission, SWCC launched Conserve Alabama in March 2016 to increase awareness and engage those who believe in the noble endeavor of conserving our natural resources so future generations can enjoy the same Alabama the Beautiful we know and love. Whether you live in rural or urban Alabama, you play an important role in the future of our state’s natural resources. Join us and Commit to Conserve Alabama!
From the Ground Up
We have a presence in all 67 counties. Locally led, nonregulatory entities authorized under state law known as soil and water conservation districts are managed by district administrative coordinators and a voluntary Board of Supervisors. We believe in conservation from the ground up. Districts assess conservation problems on the local level, set priorities, then coordinate and carry out appropriate programs, working hand in hand with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Additionally, our district administrative coordinators carry out many educational programs to help students learn about good stewardship of our natural resources.
You might be surprised to learn that 93 percent of the land in our natural-resource‐rich state is privately owned, not held by the government (1). Much of that land goes back generations. We work, on a voluntary basis, with private landowners to implement conservation practices on their land, creating a unique private‐public partnership. The guiding philosophy of conservation districts is that decisions about conservation issues should be made on the local level, by local people, with technical assistance and funding provided by government. If you are a land user, contact your local conservation district and learn about resources available to you.
It’s hard to imagine a time when the land was bleak. We are accustomed to driving roads bordered by fields of green, white, amber, and yellow; however, during the Dust Bowl era of the early 1930s, the land was devastated by an extended drought. With nothing to anchor it down, the soil was severely eroded — carried away with the wind. Farmers’ inability to grow food and fiber, coupled with the crash of our financial system, created a national crisis in all respects.
Meanwhile, a soil scientist ahead of his time, Hugh Hammond Bennett, was researching and writing extensively about erosion. In 1928 he wrote, “Soil erosion is the biggest problem confronting the farmers of the Nation over a tremendous part of its agricultural lands” (2). So when it came time to convince national leaders to act, Bennett was the obvious choice. His expertise, combined with his showmanship, made him the perfect candidate to present the case to Congress to make conservation a national priority.
Bennett was successful in Washington D.C., and in 1935 the Soil Conservation Service was created. Now called the Natural Resources Conservation Service, it named Bennett as its first director. Led by the federal government, conservation projects spread throughout the nation, but it was soon believed greater success would be achieved if conservation planning began on the local level. So, in 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent draft legislation to governors of all the states encouraging the formation of conservation districts. The Alabama Legislature adopted modified legislation in 1939 and established the Alabama Soil and Water Conservation Committee and local conservation districts.
Today, every state in the nation participates in conservation efforts through nearly 3,000 conservation districts.
Alabama conservation districts do not work alone. We work hand in hand with numerous state and federal agencies, businesses, nonprofits, trade organizations, and conservation focused groups. Together, we are committed to Conserve Alabama.
- USDA , Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Alabama Association of Conservation Districts
- National Association of Conservation Districts
- Alabama Agribusiness Council
- Alabama Cooperative Extension System
- Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries
- Alabama Department of Education
- Alabama Department of Environmental Management
- Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs
- Alabama Farmers Federation
- Alabama Forestry Association
- Alabama Forestry Commission
- Alabama Water Agencies Working Group
- Alabama Wildlife Federation
- Auburn University
- Clean Water Partnership
- Tuskegee University
- University of Alabama
- University of West Alabama
- Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station
- Alabama A&M University
- Alabama RC&D Councils
- Mobile Bay National Estuary Program
- The Nature Conservancy
- Alabama Poultry & Egg Association
(1) Natural Resources Inventory, USDA‐NRCS
(2) Soil Erosion: A National Menace (1928)