Local Working Groups
Local working groups bring together agricultural and natural resources interests existing in Duval County. Our monthly board meetings are open to the public and aimed to encourage participation from local producers, representatives of agricultural and environmental organizations, and representatives of governmental agencies carrying out agricultural and natural resource conservation programs and activities.
In 1937, the Florida Legislature enacted Chapter 582, Florida Statutes (F.S.), Soil and Water Conservation. The legislation established a state and local partnership with the federal government to protect and restore soil and water resources, and to assist private landowners in using conservation practices. This partnership has worked for more than seventy years to address serious issues with regard to soil erosion, flood damage, and water quality. The vehicles for this partnership are the Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), which have statutory authorities ranging from project demonstration to land use regulation.
Since the inception of Chapter 582, Florida has established other state and regional governmental agencies to manage and protect our land and water resources, and to regulate water supply, water quality, and flood control. These agencies - the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the five water management districts (WMDs) and the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) - have acquired broad authorities and responsibilities that are similar to those outlined in the Soil and Water Conservation law. Perhaps because of this, the SWCDs have not needed to make full use of their statutory powers. However, the role of the SWCDs in land and water management remains significant, and is integral to meeting state environmental objectives at the local level.
Florida’s districts have a long history in joining with partners to provide funding and technical support to help local landowners in conservation efforts. Traditionally, the three main partners are the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Office of Agricultural Water Policy (OAWP), and the counties that the SWCDs serve. Many counties are turning to their county extension programs and to their soil and water conservation partners to help develop urban and agricultural programs at the local level on both public and private lands.