A Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), like a county or school district, is a subdivision of State government. A SWCD 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 who are elected by their fellow landowners. After the passage of the Texas Soil Conservation Law and with the establishment of the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB), SWCDs began to be formed.
To bring a district into existence, a minimum of 50 local agricultural landowners had to petition the TSSWCB requesting the creation of a district. Following the filing of the petition, the TSSWCB held a hearing on the question of desirability and necessity for a district. If facts presented at the hearing determined a favorable need, the TSSWCB conducted an election within the proposed district on the proposition of creating a conservation district. At least two-thirds of the votes cast by local agricultural landowners must have been positive in order to create a new district.
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.
Elections are held once a year in a SWCD. District Directors are elected for a four-year term. Each year, on a day after September 30th and before October 16th, 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.
SWCDs work to bring a 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. SWCDs receive assistance from many sources; however, even with all this help, farmers, ranchers, communities and other individuals must exercise a voluntary initiative in applying a conservation program compatible with their own objectives.
Read the "Evolution Of The Soil And Water Conservation District Program In Texas" for a chronology of the events that started the SWCD program in Texas.