Overview of water management duties, related statutes, guidance documents, directories, and more info for LGUs:
- Annual Financial Summaries (Financial statements for all SWCDs, and templates for preparing statements)
- SWCD Operational Handbook
- Supervisor's Handbook
- SWCD Guidebook (Project summaries and other info about each SWCD in the state - updated in 2010)
- Rural Preserves Property Tax Program (page includes links to Dept. of Revenue and guidance for SWCDs in preparing conservation plans for eligible acres)
- Chapter 103C
- SWCD and TSA Map
Overview of Duties
Minnesota's 90 Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) are local units of government that help direct and manage natural resource programs. SWCDs cover the entire state. SWCDs work primarily on a one-on-one basis with landowners, aiming to connect landowners with the financial and technical resources they need to put conservation practices on the land. SWCDs also have variuos duties under the Wetland Conservation Act. Each SWCD is governed by a board of five elected supervisors. The supervisors develop policy for the district, develop plans and budgets, and empower and work with staff and represent their district at other meetings and functions.
Districts work closely with a number of key partners, including:
- The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which often has field offices co-located with districts.
- BWSR, which provides administrative, financial and technical assistance to SWCDs. Local SWCDs implement a broad range of local, state and federal conservation programs, including the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve conservation easement program, the State Conservation Cost-Share Program, and the Feedlot Water Quality Management Cost-Share Program.
- The University of Minnesota Extension Service has extension educators throughout the state who often work with SWCDs on educational and technical issues.
Legislation authorizing the formation of SWCDs was approved in response to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Burns-Homer-Pleasant Soil and Water Conservation District, later consolidated into Winona SWCD, became Minnesota's first SWCD in 1938. The last to form, the Ramsey Conservation District, was established in 1973. SWCDs are established through a petition to the state conservation authority, currently the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources. Today, districts work with landowners in rural and urban settings to carry out a program for the conservation, use, and development of soil, water, and related resources. SWCDs fill the crucial niche of providing soil and water conservation services to owners of private lands. Privately owned lands make up 78 percent of the land surface in Minnesota. Managed wisely, these working lands - farms, forests and urban areas - can contribute to the state's environmental goals of cleaner air and water, protection of fish and wildlife habitat and preservation of open spaces. State funds for SWCDs are administered through the Board of Water and Soil Resources. SWCDs must report annually to BWSR about the state funds they receive. SWCDs also receive funding from a variety of other sources, including revenue from fees and county funding.