Objective: 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 concerns. Housed in the US Department of Interior and transferred to Department of Agriculture in 1935. Hugh Hammond Bennett was appointed the Director. 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 lands. 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 District. 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 commerce 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 programs.
Regulatory Programs Section 402: NPDES Permits Section 404 – Wetlands Section 401 – Certification Voluntary Section 319 – Nonpoint Source Program Funding State Revolving Fund Section 319 – Nonpoint Source Program Section 106 – Water Pollution Control Program
NPDES: 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 Engineers. 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 States. 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 source. 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 sources.
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, Stormwater) 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 wildlife
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 inadequate.
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 depend.“ 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 concerns.
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, 2 nd Environmental Quality Bond Act is passed providing 1.2 billion to remediate hazardous waste sites and $250 million for land acquisition. 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 established. 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 systems.
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: SEQRA 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 Island Mohawk River Watershed Upper Susquehanna Watershed
New York State is considered a “Home Rule” State. 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 operations. Local laws and ordinances
Statewide initiative that began in 1990. Set local priorities to protect local water resources. 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. FL-LOWPA USC CWICNY LHCCD MRCCD
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 certification 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 1989. 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 Conference Hosts the NYS Envirothon. Developed Ronny Raindrop® to help teach water quality education.
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: NRCS NYACD SWCC NYSCDEA 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 Efficient Targeted at the local landowner.
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