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Thanks to the NACD Urban and Community Conservation Resource Policy Group for providing the content information for this month's Did You Know.

Why NACD and Conservation Districts Should Be Involved with Urban and Community Conservation

1.    Some of our most traditionally rural states now have fast growing populations. Big shifts in population can cause resource concerns in urban areas which spill over into the agricultural landscape. 

2.    In most cases, state law gives districts jurisdiction over the conservation of lands within their district, including small acreages, urban and suburban areas. Those residents are our constituents.

3.    Conservation districts across the nation have the primary objective of providing land users the tools to care for our precious natural resources themselves…the soils, water, plants, animals, air, etc.  Districts are unique in that sense. Those resources are as important in developing and urban areas as they are in rural ones.

4.    Proper application of nutrients and crop protectants is important to protect water quality, whether applied to urban lawns and gardens or on large fields. Conservation districts in urban or developing areas often work with EPA and their state’s environmental agencies to play an active role in water quality improvement, TMDL’s, and reducing  pollution to our lakes, rivers and streams. 

5.    One of the fastest growing segments of property ownership are small acreage holders. People often move onto the acreages for the opportunity to grow their own food and raise livestock, yet don’t have the knowledge and/or machinery to plant crops, handle manure, etc. These smallholders are a market for district services and certainly could benefit from conservation technical assistance.

6.    Conservation districts have seen the demand for their services expand from a focus on primarily agriculture to all sectors of the environment – rural, suburban and urban, agricultural, residential and commercial. That demand has, over time, seen responsive district boards adjust their missions to address it.  

7.    Many conservation districts receive taxpayer dollars to fund a portion of their activities. These may include property taxes from urban areas or other taxes that are assessed across the population, not just rural residents (our traditional customers). Because they receive those dollars, there is a requirement that citizens as a whole be served.

8.    Most state laws allow for both urban and rural representation and many allow all residents to vote for the board of supervisors or directors. NACD encourages diversity of board members. That diversity wants to conserve too…why not diversity of clientele?

9.    Virtually every conservation district in the U.S. is experiencing development of some sort. Conservation districts are usually the first place a citizen will call for assistance.

10.    Perhaps the biggest reason – ALL THESE RESIDENTS VOTE! Even though many urban and non-traditional customers may not actively use our services, they vote on local, state and federally-elected officials who write our laws and approve budgets. Districts need to be involved with this segment of the population and show them how technical assistance works – and explain basic conservation principles. 

Resources Available from NACD

  • Urban and Community Conservation Webinars (monthly, free) www.nacdnet.org/policy/urban/webinars 
  • Urban and Community Conservation Network (on Facebook) www.facebook.com/communityconservation 
  • Urban and Community Conservation Information and District Showcases www.nacdnet.org/policy/urban 
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