In the early 1930s the country was plagued by depression and dust. Immense droughts and poor farming practices had combined to create the worst ecological disaster in U.S. history, the Dust Bowl. The soils of the Great Plains eroded and blew away in epic losses, as the entire country was blanketed.
As wind-blown dust fell on Capitol Hill, North Carolina native, Hugh Hammond Bennett implored Congress to take drastic steps to safeguard the nation’s soils. Since nearly 75% of the Country was privately owned, Congress realized the only way to conserve our rich natural resources was through a locally-led approach. Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote the governors of all the states recommending legislation to enact and form soil conservation districts.
August 4th, 1937 Brown Creek Soil & Water Conservation District was the first district formed. The Brown Creek Soil & Water Conservation District covered the watershed land from central Anson County to south-east Union County North Carolina. The nation’s first!
By 1947, the nation’s first Conservation District had grown to encompass 5 North Carolina Piedmont counties: Anson, Montgomery, Richmond, Stanly, and Union. Over time all of the counties would become their own entity.
Today there are nearly 3,000 Soil & Water Conservation Districts across all U.S. States and Territories. Although diverse, all Soil & Water Districts strive for the same goals: to protect our natural resources. Union SWCD makes great effort to provide technical, financial, and educational assistance to the citizens of Union County to promote the proper management of our natural resources.
Union Soil & Water Conservation District offers a wide array of services to the citizens of Union County including:
- Natural Resource Best Management Practice Design and Support
- Soil Interpretative Services
- Nutrient Management
- Natural Resource-Specific Mapping via GIS
- Educational and Technical Training
- Soil and Water Resource Consultative Services
No-Till Seed Drill
The No-Till Seed Drill provides farmers and landowners of Union County an opportunity to use affordable equipment to plant their grasses, legumes, and small grains. This method of “drilling,” plants seeds with very little soil disturbance and thus is conservation/resource friendly. It also is a more precise method of planting which means increased efficiency and more economical. The drill can be rented for $10 an acre to citizens planting in Union County. Contact our office for more information.
The importance of conserving our natural resources has to start with education. Union County Soil & Water Conservation District takes great strides to provide educational opportunities to the citizens of Union County and the State of North Carolina using programs such as:
- Resource Conservation Workshop- Union SWCD sponsors a student annually to attend the Resource Conservation Workshop at North Carolina State University. This week long camp offers studies in a wide array of natural resource topics.
- Envirothon- the Envirothon is a regional, state, and national competition testing middle and high school students on their knowledge of environmental science and natural resources. Awards and scholarships are offered to winners.
- District Education Contests- Poster, essay, and computer design slide show contests are offered to all schools of Union County. These contests gauge student’s ability to express environmental science and conservation knowledge. Winners on a district level go on to the state level.
Union SWCD also offers independent instruction on a variety of topics within soil, water, and conservation related education. In-class instruction, outdoor hands-on, and science field days are some examples of how the Soil & Water District helps educate students on protecting natural resources.
http://www.ncagr.gov/SWC/educational/index.html click here for more information.
North Carolina Agricultural Cost Share Program
The North Carolina Agriculture Cost Share Program is a state funded program administered to reduce the input of non-point source pollution into our streams, lakes, and rivers. This reduction is achieved by providing cost share assistance to agricultural landowners and operators who use Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce pollutants (sediment, animal waste, pesticides, nutrients, etc.) leaving the land and entering the waters. Cost Share amounts are up to 75% of average cost to install BMPs.
Cost share monies for Union County have been used for such BMP’s as waste storage structures, incinerators, fencing for livestock exclusion, watering facilities and heavy use area protection, as well as pasture renovations and well installation. Other cost shared BMP’s include lagoon closures, dead poultry composters, stream bank stabilization, sod-based rotations, critical area plantings and many others. These practices must be installed to meet USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service standards and specifications, along with proper maintenance of practice.
http://www.ncagr.gov/SWC/costshareprograms/ACSP/index.html click here to find out more information.
Community Conservation Assistance Program
While similar to the Ag Cost Share Program, Community Conservation Assistance Program (or CCAP) is a program designed to increase conservation practices in urban communities. CCAP works through the installation of Best Managements Practices (BMP’s) at Union County homes, businesses, schools, and recreational areas. Landowners may be eligible for cost share up to 75%.
CCAP cost share monies for Union County have been used for such BMP’s as abandoned well closure and critical area planting. Other cost shared BMP’s include rain gardens, backyard wetlands, cisterns, grassed swales, and riparian buffers. For a full list of cost share BMP’s and to find out more about CCAP, visit our page at http://www.ncagr.gov/SWC/costshareprograms/CCAP/index.html.