Provide an understanding of today’s programs
and agencies by understanding the intent of
their creation and evolution.
Dust Bowl – primarily from 1930 – 1936. Caused
by intensively farmed land, combined with a
prolonged period of drought.
Coinciding with the Great Depression, the Dust
Bowl has devastating effects.
Greatest impact to soil was in the mid-west, but
the deposition reached the Atlantic Ocean.
Established in 1932
Created under the Emergency Conservation Work
Act of FDR’s New Deal.
Aimed to create jobs and combat the destruction of
natural resources.
Active in all States.
In the late 1930’s unemployment declined and so
did enrollment in the CCC.
By 1942 the economy improve to the point that it
was recommended that the Corps be abolished.
Created in 1933 to address soil conservation
Housed in the US Department of Interior and
transferred to Department of Agriculture in 1935.
Hugh Hammond Bennett was appointed the
The SES received funding to demonstrate soil
conservation methods in select areas.
Trained soil scientists worked directly with farmers
Provided equipment, labor and technical assistance
By December of 1934, the SES had already achieved enough
success that the US Secretary of Agriculture requested the
SES be transferred to the Department of Agriculture.
In 1935, the success of the Soil Erosion Service
work in demonstration areas highlighted the
need to transfer this work to all agricultural
Soil Conservation Act of 1935 establish the Soil
Conservation Service as a permanent agency
under the Department of Agriculture.
Bennett was the Director
In February of 1937, after a year of technical
and legal work, President Roosevelt signed
what was to be called “A Standard State Soil
Conservation Districts Law”.
This template for establishing local Soil
Conservation Districts was sent to all State
Governors with an encouragement to adopt.
In August 1937, the first Soil Conservation
District (Brown Creek) was established in
Anston County, NC.
On April 23, 1940 New York State passed Soil
Conservation District Law, which established the State
Soil Conservation Committee and enabled counties to
establish local Conservation Districts
On July 31, 1940, the first Soil Conservation District
was established in Schoharie County.
Created as an Agency of the State to be led by
five voting members representing:
NYS Grange
 NY Farm Bureau Federation
 NY Association of Conservation Districts
 At-large for Farm Interests
 At-large for Urban, Suburban and Rural Non-Farm
Landowner Interests.
Also served by 9 Advisory Members
 Housed within Cornell University
 Transferred to Department of Agriculture and
Markets in 1981
The role of the State Committee is to establish
policies to guide local Conservation District
programs and assist Conservation Districts in
organizing, developing and implementing
these programs.
Members are voluntary. Appointed by the
Governor for five year terms.
In 1981, the State Committee was transferred to
the Department of Agriculture and Markets.
NY Soil Conservation Law gave
authority to all County
governments within New York to
establish a local Soil Conservation
District and appoint directors to
administer it.
The Soil Conservation Act of 1935
required the landowner consent to
work on private lands. Local Soil
Conservation Districts provided
the in-road to this consent.
Local Soil Conservation Districts entered into a
memorandum of understanding with the Secretary
of Agriculture for the SCS to provide technical
assistance to the District and landowners.
The locally-led model of Conservation Districts
helped to dispel the myth of big government
taking over farms. District staff would sign
farmers up through a cooperative agreement and
the SCS would provide technical assistance and
funding; the District would provide equipment.
By the end of 1940’s, New York had 38
Conservation Districts.
By 1946, there were over 1600 Soil
Conservation Districts nationally.
Sixteen Conservation Districts met in Chicago
and formed the National Conservation District
Association on July 25, 1946.
Purpose was to deliver a unified message to policy
makers and better coordinate District activities.
With the addition of the New York City
Conservation District in 1990 , all counties of
the State are now covered by a Conservation
Nationally, there are nearly 3000 Conservation
Districts, including those in all 50 States, Puerto
Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
On Feb. 7, 1967, the National Association of
State Conservation Agencies was formed.
In April 1964, the term “and water” was added to
Conservation District law, changing the title of the
law, and Conservation Districts to “Soil and Water
Conservation Districts”.
Early laws addressing water pollution focused
on navigation rather than water quality
In 1890 the Rivers and Harbors Act was enacted and
then amended in 1899 by the Rivers and Harbors
Appropriation Act (aka Refuse Act).
 Prohibited dumping refuse in navigable waters.
 Regulated construction of wharfs, piers, bulkheads, etc.
in ports, rivers and canals.
 Still in effect today and is administered by the Army
Corps of Engineers. This reflects the navigation
concerns of the legislation.
On June 30, 1948 President Truman signed the
Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
Only pertained to interstate waters
Gave individual States most of the responsibility for
controlling water pollution.
Established federal technical services and grants to
State and interstate governments.
The federal government could only take action
if health or human welfare were threatened and
only with the consent of the polluting State.
The FWPCA was ineffective and pollution
continued to increase.
Federal government could not require any direct
reduction in pollution.
 The Act was never enforced.
Congress amended the act six times before
completely rewriting it in 1972. Became the
Clean Water Act.
Enacted on June 30, 1972, the Clean Water Act made it
unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source
into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained
Pertains only to “Waters of the United States”
All interstate waters
 Intrastate waters used in interstate and/or foreign
 Tributaries of the above
 Territorial seas at the cyclical high tide mark
 Wetlands adjacent to all of the above
The CWA does not directly address
groundwater resources.
Establishes Water Quality Standards.
Determines if these Standards are being met.
If they are met: anti-degradation policies and
programs protect them.
If not, strategies are developed to remediate.
 This may involve development of a TMDL
The CWA includes strategies for meeting
Water Quality Standards.
These include regulatory, voluntary and funding
Regulatory Programs
Section 402: NPDES Permits
Section 404 – Wetlands
Section 401 – Certification
 Section 319 – Nonpoint Source Program
 State Revolving Fund
 Section 319 – Nonpoint Source Program
 Section 106 – Water Pollution Control Program
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
The CWA makes it illegal to discharge
pollutants from a point source into waters of
the US.
Point sources must obtain a discharge permit
for the proper authority – usually the State
NY has a SPDES Permit Program to meet the
requirements of the NPDES program.
 Individual Permits
 General Permits
Although Section 404 primarily addresses the
filling of wetlands, it actually addresses all
“Waters of the US”.
Overlap with the Rivers and Harbor Act Section
10. Both are administered by the Army Corps of
NY Environmental Conservation Law may also
overlap in addressing wetlands. ECL Article 24
addresses all wetlands greater than 12.4 ac. or
small wetlands of local importance.
Wetland permits are a joint application
Requires a federal agency (EPA or ACOE) to
obtain from the state in which a proposed
project is located, a certification that the
discharge is consistent with the CWA.
This is intended to protect other downstream
Most applicable to Section 404 permits in
navigable waters.
Nonpoint Source Pollution (NPS)
The CWA does not provide definition for NPS. It is
defined by exclusion: any pollution not from a point
Section 319 was added to the CWA in 1987 .
Earlier reports from States indicated that 40%
of the impaired waters were from nonpoint
sources, while only 10% were from point
The CWA makes provisions for the federal
government to provide funding to States for
compliance efforts.
State Revolving Fund (SRF) – municipal wastewater
treatment (WWT) upgrades
Section 319 – grant funding for States to administer
NPS programs.
Section 106 – grant funding for States to administer
programs for the prevention, reduction, and
elimination of pollution.
 Section 104 also offers funding for specific water
pollution control projects.
In 1989 NYS SWCL was amended to add
Nonpoint Source Pollution as a responsibility
of local Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
This amendment also authorized Nonpoint Source
Pollution Control cost-sharing.
Providing information for updates of the
Priority Waterbodies List
Assistance with SPDES permits (e.g. CAFO,
Local legislation designates most Conservation
Districts as the lead agency for NPS pollution.
Enacted in 1977, it charged the USDA Soil
Conservation Service with compiling a National
Resource Inventory (NRI).
The NRI recorded conditions of soil, water, land and related
resources on private lands.
Completed in 1982, the National Resource
Conservation Report brought conservation into
consideration for farmland laws and programs.
As a direct result, the 1985 Food Security Act
(a.k.a. Farm Bill) established the :
Conservation Reserve Program
 Wetland Reserve Program
 Farmland Protection Program
The report of the NRI showed that the existing
commodity payment programs were failing.
Sodbuster provisions required that any land
farmed between 1981 and 1985 that was
classified as “Highly Erodible Land (HEL)” do
so in accordance with a Conservation Plan.
Swampbuster provisions make farm
participants ineligible for many USDA
program benefits if wetlands were converted
for production after 1985.
Enacted on October 27, 1972
Voluntary Program
Encourages States with coastal resources
(including Great Lakes) to develop management
plans to “preserve, protect, develop and where
possible, restore or enhance valuable natural
coastal resources”
Provides matching funds to States for
implementing the plans.
Pertains to the 1990 amendment of the Coastal
Zone Management Act.
Added Non-point Source Pollution to the Act.
Requires States with Coastal Zone
Management Plans to develop and implement
NPS programs as part of their plans.
This portion of the Act is administered jointly
between EPA and the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Agency (NOAA).
Signed into law on January 1, 1970
Requires all federal agencies to incorporate
environmental considerations into their planning and
decision-making processes.
 Three levels:
 Categorical Exclusion – determined to have no significant
environmental impact
 Environmental Assessment – written assessment to determine
if their will be significant environmental impact
 Environmental Impact Statement – more detailed evaluation of
the proposed actions and alternatives; open for public comment
By 1900, over harvesting
of bison and the
passenger pigeon,
introduced the concept
of extinction.
Depletion of other
species, such as the
Whooping Crane and the
Bald Eagle, spurred
legislation for protecting
In 1966, the Endangered Species Preservation
Act was passed.
This charged the Secretary of the Interior with the
task of developing a list of domestic endangered
species and authorized the US Fish and Wildlife
Service to spend $15 Million per year to buy habitat
for endangered species.
The first list consisted of 78 Species
 76% were impacted by habitat loss
 38% were impacted by introduced species
 In 1973, President Nixon declared the Act
On December 28, 1973 a completely revised
Endangered Species Act was passed.
The stated purpose of the Act was changed to
protect species and "the ecosystems upon which they
Administered by the US Fish & Wildlife Service and
(and NOAA for marine species)
NYS Soil and Water Conservation District Law
includes preservation of wildlife as part of its policy
In 1895, New York established the Fisheries,
Game and Forest Commission to address issues
related to fish and game regulations, hunting
seasons and poaching. In 1911, this became the
Conservation Commission.
On April 22, 1970 legislation passed creating the
Department of Environmental Conservation
which took over the responsibility of the
Conservation Commission as well as
responsibility for overseeing all environmental
Industrial Air Pollution
Solid Waste Disposal
Hazardous Waste
1978 - Love Canal
GE discharging PCBs into
Hudson River
State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
created for wastewater discharges
1972 –Environmental Quality Bond Act
State Environmental Quality Review Act
passed (SEQRA)
Mine Land Reclamation Law established,
requiring all mined land be restored after
mining operations cease.
Forest Tax Law established providing tax
breaks to landowners who actively manage
wood lots.
Freshwater Wetlands Act passed.
In 1986, 2nd Environmental Quality Bond Act is
passed providing 1.2 billion to remediate
hazardous waste sites and $250 million for land
Omnibus Oil, Gas and Solution
Mining Law.
Solid Waste Management
Act established.
Emphasis begins to shift to pollution prevention.
Signs agreement with NYC to protect the
drinking water supply of city residents.
Receives a 2.7 million grant to coordinate
remedial activities for Onondaga Lake.
In 1993 the Environmental Protection Fund was
In 1996, the Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act
was approved for $1.75 billion.
Established in 1901
Oversees the delivery of drinking water,
including public water supplies
 Assures water sources are adequately protected.
 Reviews and approves sub-division plans
 Sets standards for individual wells and septic
Meets requirements for the Safe Drinking
Water Act.
Source Water Assessment seeks to:
Determine where drinking water comes from
Inventory potential sources of contamination
Assess the likelihood of contamination
Long Island has a separate SWAP to address
their sole source aquifer and the 500+ public
water supply system that rely on these wells.
Established in 1778, it is the oldest agency in
New York’s administration.
Improving quality of life for residents
Includes many committees and councils
Relevant areas of oversight:
 Committee on Open Government
 Smart Growth
 Division of Coastal Resources
“…work with communities throughout New York
State to make the most of what their
waterfronts have to offer”
Meets the requirements of the federal Coastal
Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments
Covers waterfront revitalization projects and
watershed planning projects.
Flooding and erosion
 Water quality
 Habitat improvement projects, including corridors
 Significant coastal fish and wildlife habitats
Established in 1884.
Mission: Foster a competitive food and agriculture
industry that benefits producers and consumers alike.
Oversight includes:
Agriculture and Markets Law
Agricultural Districts
Farmland Protection
Agricultural Assessments
Division of Soil and Water
Ag. NPS Abatement and
Control Grants
Agricultural Environmental Management Program
In 2006, the Oceans and Great Lakes Ecosystem
Conservation Act established ecosystem-based
management (EBM) as the framework to better
manage human activities that affect New
York’s coastal ecosystems.
The goal of the EBM program is to coordinate
the activities of nine State agencies that have
jurisdiction over land use.
EBM is a watershed approach that factors in
humans and their reliance on natural resources.
In 2009, a detailed report to the Governor was
submitted, outlining the priorities for EBM.
Pilot Projects:
Sandy Creeks Watershed,
Jefferson County
 Great South Bay, Long
 Mohawk River Watershed
 Upper Susquehanna
New York State is considered a “Home Rule”
Home Rule is the right to local self-government
including the powers to regulate for the protection of
the public health, safety, morals, and welfare; to
license; to tax; and to incur debt.
Involves the authority of a local government to
prevent state government intervention with its
 Local laws and ordinances
Statewide initiative that began in 1990.
Set local priorities to protect local water
Originally, WQCCs received funding from the
State to develop local Water Quality Strategies.
In recent years funding has become more sporadic.
Conservation Districts have been the catalyst
for forming watershed-based groups to address
regional issues.
The State Soil and Water Conservation
Committee remains housed in the Department of
Agriculture and Markets, within the Division of
Soil and Water.
Some of their functions include:
 Administer the Agricultural NPS Grants
 Administer AEM Base Program
 Provide review and oversight for AEM Planner
 Administer annual District Reimbursement
NRCS continues to set both the Standards and
Specifications for conservation Best
Management Practices (BMPs).
Administer Farm Bill Conservation Programs:
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
 Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA)
 Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
 Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP)
 Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)
 Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)
Formed in 1975.
Incorporated in 1983.
Became a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organization in
Became an advisory member to the State Soil and
Water Conservation Committee in 1996.
Host the annual Water Quality Symposium and
Conservation Skills Workshop
Established the Frank Bratt Memorial Scholarship
which offers incentive to District employees and
family members for natural resource education.
Designs and sets up a display for Conservation
Districts at the State Fair
Sponsors annual Administrative
Hosts the NYS Envirothon.
Developed Ronny Raindrop®
to help teach water quality
Formed in 1947.
Incorporated in 1958.
Not-for-Profit organization.
Represent New York Conservation Districts at
the state and federal level regarding impacts to
natural resource conservation.
Network on Conservation Districts’ behalf.
Propose legislative changes when necessary.
Keep Districts and their Directors informed on
important issues affecting Conservation Districts.
Memorandum of Understanding among:
Clarify roles and responsibilities of each member.
 Support Cooperative Working Agreements between
NRCS and individual Districts.
 Recognize the Guide for AEM in NY for assessing,
planning, implementing and evaluating environmental
management on farms.
 Hold at least one joint meeting per year.
 Recognize NRCS Standards and Specifications as the
standard for conservation practices in New York.
Soil and Water Conservation Districts !
Serve as the bridge for getting Federal and State
Programs on the ground.
Allow for Federal and State funds to be used for
conservation practices on private lands.
Provide technical assistance that is:
Cost effective
Targeted at the local landowner.

New employee orientation - Soil & Water Conservation District