Local Conservation Leadership

Soil and Water Conservation Districts, often referred to as SWCDs, are “political subdivisions of state government” that utilize state, federal, and private sector resources to solve today’s conservation problems.

“Political subdivisions of state government” can be a confusing term. What does this actually mean? A SWCD is neither a state government agency or local government entity.  A conservation district is NOT a non-profit organization. SWCDs are self-governed by a Board of Directors.

A political subdivision of state government is “Created by the legislature to exercise some portion of the state’s sovereignty in regard to one or more specific governmental functions. It is independent from other governmental bodies, in that it may act to exercise those powers conferred upon it by law without seeking the approval of a superior authority. It employs its own consultants, attorneys, accountants and other employees whose salaries are fixed by the political subdivision, and it often incurs debts which are not debts of the Commonwealth but are debts of the political subdivision” (II 2002 Op. Va. Att’y Gen. 281, 283). In other words, political subdivisions have only the authority granted to them by the legislature and detailed in the Code of Virginia. Examples of political subdivisions of state government in Virginia include but are not limited to local government entities, soil and water conservation districts, transportation districts, and planning districts.

Essentially, we can sum this issue up by understanding that the Soil and Water Conservation District you represent is a subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia and a democratic means for local conservation leadership.

The guiding philosophy behind all SWCDs is that decisions on conservation issues should be made at the local level, by local people.


VASWCD Quarterly Board Meeting