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2014-05-01

What & who are Texas Soil & Water Conservation Districts?

By Larry Stark, District Conservationist

By Larry Stark, District Conservationist
From Bandera County SWCD #229

The following information was recently presented in the Bandera County SWCD newsletter.
Locally Governed
A soil and water conservation district, like a county or school district, is a subdivision of state government. The program and plan of work of the district is developed according to the local needs of the district.
Landowner Operated
A soil and water conservation district is brought into existence by a vote of the landowners within the boundaries of a district. It is administered by a board of five directors elected by their fellow landowners.
The Creation of a District
After the passage of the Texas Soil Conservation Law and with the establishment of the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB), soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) began to be formed.
To assure geographical representation on the district's governing board, SWCDs are divided into five subdivisions. A district's governing body, a board of directors, is made up of agricultural landowners, one from each of five subdivisions.
Each district director must live in the district, own land in the subdivision he or she represents, and be actively engaged in farming or ranching. Bandera SWCD was formed in June, 1948.
Agricultural Landowners Qualify
Elections are held once a year in an SWCD. Directors are elected for a four-year term. On a day after Sept. 30 and before Oct. 16, each year, agricultural landowners in each of the districts over the state assemble in conventions and elect their
representative on the district's board of directors. By rotating the elections in subdivisions, one or two directors' terms expire each year. Only agricultural landowners may vote or qualify as directors.
Directors Hold Regular Meetings
SWCD directors receive no salary. They do, however, receive per diem for attending meetings, plus car mileage. This expense payment is allowed for no more than 20 meetings a year. Ordinarily, directors meet once a month, but perform numerous other duties outside of regular meetings for which they receive no pay.
SWCD directors must have knowledge of the conservation problems in their district and have the ability to organize people and resources for effective action in controlling soil erosion, thereby making the land more productive. They should be willing to sacrifice personal interests for the good of the district and their community.
Directors have accepted their positions because they believe in the local, voluntary SWCD approach, which has proven successful for more than half a century.
SWCD Resources
Help or assistance comes to an SWCD from various federal, state and local agencies. A primary source of help a district offers agricultural landowners or operators is the technical assistance of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
SWCD's Purpose
Soil and water conservation districts work to bring about the widespread understanding of the needs of soil and water conservation. In addition, they work to activate the efforts of public and private organizations and agencies into a united front to combat soil and water erosion and to enhance water quality and quantity in the state.
It is the purpose of SWCDs to instill in the minds of local people that it is their individual responsibility to do the job of soil and water conservation.
Current directors
The current directors of the local SWCD are Travis Langford, Randy Schott, Rob Sandidge, David Long and Paul Garrison.