History of Soil and Water Conservation
In the early 1930s, along with the greatest depression this nation ever experienced, came an equally unparalleled ecological disaster known as the Dust Bowl. Following a severe and sustained drought in the Great Plains, the region's soil began to erode and blow away, creating huge black dust storms that blotted out the sun and swallowed the countryside. Thousands of “dust refugees” left the black fog to seek better lives.
But the storms stretched across the nation. They reached south to Texas and east to New York. Dust even sifted into the White House and onto the desk of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
On Capitol Hill, while testifying about the erosion problem, soil scientist Hugh Hammond Bennett threw back the curtains to reveal a sky blackened by dust. Congress unanimously passed legislation declaring soil and water conservation a national policy and priority. Because nearly three-fourths of the continental United States is privately owned, Congress realized that only active, voluntary support from landowners would guarantee the success of conservation work on private land.
In 1937, President Roosevelt wrote the governors of all the states recommending legislation that would allow local landowners to form soil conservation districts
The movement caught on across the country with district-enabling legislation passed in every state. Today, the country is blanketed with nearly 3,000 conservation districts In 1946 Florida Legislature passed Chapter 582, Florida Statutes (F.S.), Soil and Water Conservation. The Orange Soil and Water Conservation District (OSWCD) is a subdivision of the State of Florida to develop and carry out various conservation and education programs, to provide technical assistance to landowners and to help conserve and protect natural resources.
The OSWCD board consists of 5 elected non-partisan supervisors. The OSWCD also works closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and other state and local agencies in studying soil and water related issues, implementing conservation programs, and providing technical services to agricultural producers.
In the past we have received County funding. But due to budget restraints, funding was eliminated. We hope you will consider supporting us with volunteer hours, with your expertise or with your financial support.
Visit Ken Burn’s documentary “The Dust Bowl.”
NRCS on PBS' "The Dust Bowl" During the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, we were called the Soil Conservation Service. Our mission was to help farmers take better care of their land. Filmmaker Ken Burns' portrays the early days of NRCS in his documentary "The Dust Bowl." Link to the series' web page and learn more about the history of NRCS here.