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History of Conservation Districts

Oregon legislatures passing legislation to establish conservation districts in Oregon circa 1939.

The “Dust Bowl” brought to the nation’s attention the need to conserve soil and other natural resources. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the problems of soil erosion in the nation by shepherding the passage of the Soil Conservation Act, which established the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The SCS was charged with developing a program to conserve and enhance the nation’s soil and water resources. At first, it was assumed the federal government could manage the whole program. However, during the first two years, it became apparent that local leadership was needed to coordinate efforts of conservation agencies and tie their programs to local conditions and priorities. The SCS needed the assistance of local farmers, ranchers, and other land managers to put together and operate an effective program. In 1937, President Roosevelt asked all state governors to promote legislation to allow the formation of soil conservation districts. During the same year, Congress developed model conservation district law for consideration by state governments. Thus began a partnership that exists today.

In 1939, the Oregon Legislature passed legislation to establish conservation districts in Oregon. Conservation Districts are charged with directing programs to protect local renewable natural resources in their county. On July 25, 1946, 18 representatives from 17 states created what is now known as the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD). The Deschutes Soil and Water Conservation District was established on June 23, 1947 under the name “Midstate SCD”, which was then changed to the Deschutes SWCD on September 9, 1987.



About Deschutes SWCD

Deschutes SWCD is a political subdivision of state government but is not a state agency, rather a municipal corporation that follow the same laws that govern state agencies. The Deschutes SWCD is not a regulatory and enforcement agency, nor is it an environmental activist group. We are an organization that works with farmers, ranchers, forest owners, and other partners to sustain and improve our natural resources in Deschutes County.  The Deschutes SWCD board members are elected in general elections every 2 years. Candidates wanting to run for a district board position must meet eligibility requirements

Deschutes SWCD provides onsite technical assistance to help you address natural resource concerns on your property.