About Us

Conservation districts had their beginning in the 1930s when Congress, in response to national concern over mounting erosion, floods and the sky-blackening dust storms that swept across the country, enacted the Soil Conservation Act of 1935. The act stated for the first time a national policy to provide a permanent program for the control and prevention of soil erosion, and directed the Secretary of Agriculture to establish the Soil Conservation Service to implement this policy. The conservation district concept was developed to enlist the cooperation of landowners and occupiers in carrying out the programs authorized by the act.

On February 27, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent a letter to all state governors recommending enactment of soil conservation district legislation.  The proposed act suggested establishing districts to direct and manage soil erosion control program using local citizens participating voluntarily in planning and installing conservation practices.  Each district so designated would be empowered to determine local needs, would have personal contact with local individual landowners within the community, and would htus be able to encourage maximum participation on a voluntary basis.

On August 4, 1937, the first conservation district, the Brown Creek Soil Conservation District, was established in North Carolina. Interestingly enough, the Brown Creek District included the birthplace of Dr. Hugh Hammond Bennett, the first Chief of the Soil Conservation Service - commonly referred to as the father of soil conservation. By 1938, twenty-seven states had followed suit, and by the late 1940s, all fifty states had adopted similar legislation. Districts laws were adopted in the 1960s by Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and in the 1980s by the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.  Today, there are approximately 3,000 local districts around the nation.

Delaware's enabling act was passed on April 12, 1943.  The Act created the Soil Conservation Commission to determine the need for districts, define their boundaries, conduct elections of the first Board of Supervisors and assure that District programs conformed to legislative intent.  The Sussex Conservation District was approved by public referendum in December 1943 and was formally established on February 16, 1944.

 

Sussex Conservation's Programs