Contact: Gary Overmier
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For immediate release
November 1, 2002
Great Lakes soil and water conservation districts face growing
Report calls for $80 million boost in regional conservation funding
Ann Arbor, Mich. -- An additional $80 million a year is needed to adequately
protect and manage the soil, water quality and related natural resources of
the Great Lakes basin, according to a newly released analysis of Great Lakes
The report, compiled by the National Association of Conservation Districts
(NACD) and the Great Lakes Commission, provides a look at the changing role
of conservation districts in improving and managing the natural resources of
the Great Lakes basin, along with an assessment of what they need to carry
out that mission.
"Local conservation districts are at the forefront of the effort to improve
and conserve the natural resources of the Great Lakes region," said Joe
Newberg, chairman of the National Association of Conservation Districts'
Great Lakes Committee. "It is important that their needs are known and
the region can speak with one voice to obtain the necessary resources to
carry out this important task at the local level."
The study found that more than $80 million in additional annual funding is
needed for Great Lakes conservation districts to carry out their mission of
improving and conserving the natural resources of the basin. The funds would
be used to hire professional staff, purchase equipment and provide
incentives for landowners to improve and conserve the natural resources on
Titled An Analysis of Conservation Districts' Changing Responsibilities: The
District Role in Conserving and Protecting Great Lakes Land and Water
Resources, the report is based on a survey of the 209 conservation districts
(sometimes called soil and water conservation districts) in the Great Lakes
basin. The report categorizes conservation district programs and funding
needs, and makes recommendations based on those findings.
The survey found that, over the past 10 years, the traditional role of
conservation districts in controlling soil erosion has been supplemented by
a growing emphasis on water quality issues. Although agricultural programs
remain their most significant component, conservation districts
are placing increasing importance on hydromodification, urban and forestry
issues as well.
Another trend has been toward watershed-based resource management, an
approach increasingly taken by federal and state agencies. However, the
survey found that conservation districts are often hampered from such an
approach by jurisdictional lines that do not follow watershed boundaries.
Other areas addressed by the survey include water quality monitoring,
groundwater management, land disposal, resource recovery, mining,
communications and outreach, partnerships and personnel resources.
The survey is a follow-up to a similar survey conducted in the early 1990s.
Survey partners include the Great Lakes Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Task
Force, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Ohio Department of
The entire report and survey questions, as well as a brochure summarizing
the survey results, can all be found at www.glc.org/swcdsurvey/ .
The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Samuel W. Speck (Ohio), is a
compact agency created by state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to
promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for
the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission
consists of state legislators, agency officials, and governors'
appointees from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario
and Québec was
established through the signing of a "Declaration of Partnership." The
Commission maintains a
formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal
authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The
Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) is the national
voice of America's 3,000 local conservation districts. By working with
landowners, organizations and government,
conservation districts have helped to protect our soil, water, forests,
wildlife and other resources
for more than 60 years.
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