What is a NJ Soil Conservation District?

Districts are a special purpose subdivision of State government specially authorized to offer technical assistance to land users and local officials for the conservation of renewable natural resources. It is governed by a 5-member Board of Supervisors whom are residents of local Districts. District programs are administered under general guidelines by the State Soil Conservation Committee and financed in part through grants and from fees collected for the local enforcement of the State Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Program.

Following a format suggested by the Secretary of Agriculture, President Franklin D. Roosevelt used the power of this office and his personal influence to strongly encourage states to adopt legislation requiring that ‘on or after July 1, 1937, all erosion control work on private lands – be undertaken by the Soil Conservation Service – only through legally constituted Soil Conservation Districts.’ It was the intent of the Legislature that local people would set the priorities for work, since they should know best what was needed in their area.

Since the Governor signed the Soil Conservation District Enabling Act in 1937, the Conservation Districts of New Jersey have taken the leading role in the development, planning, and conservation of our most precious soil and water resources.

Agricultural Assistance

The early work of the Conservation Districts was limited to flood and erosion control on agricultural lands. On January 1, 1976, the Districts were given the added responsibility of administering the State Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Act. Now Districts are no longer totally concerned with rural problems, but must include urban needs in their program as well.

Soil Erosion and Sediment Control

Districts are responsible for reviewing Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Plans to ensure that effective soil erosion and sediment control measures are utilized during construction. The State of New Jersey Soil Conservation Committee has developed standards to provide guidance for the development of soil erosion and sediment control plans.

Education Program

Education is an integral part of any successful campaign. People need to be informed so that they can make the best choices when deciding how to manage natural resources for today and tomorrow. This is especially true for children. A solid foundation needs to be built so they can avoid the mistakes of our generation and learn from our advances. Districts education programs consist of classroom presentation, teacher seminars, and presentations to civic and church groups. The Districts also hold workshops for planners for the latest conservation measures. The Districts sponsor an annual poster contest in conjunction with the New Jersey Association of Conservation Districts. One major conservation education effort of the Districts is participation in the New Jersey Envirothon. The Envirothon is a nationally promoted education competition targeted towards high school students. This event emphasizes to students the importance of environmental awareness and the need for natural resource conservation. This is done by testing students’ knowledge in categories such as Aquatics, Wildlife, Soils, Forestry, and a current environmental issue.

Statewide Stormwater Permitting Program

The Statewide Stormwater Permitting Program of the State of New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection for construction and mining activities represents an effort to improve water quality of our lakes, rivers and streams, in conjunction with the existing Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Program under Chapter 251. Damage can result on land disturbed by construction and mining activities. Tainted runoff can drain into nearby waterways. This program is administered by DEP and implemented by NJ Department of Agriculture and the State Soil Conservation Committee through the local Conservation District. Projects that disturb one acre or more of land are required to obtain this permit. The result of this combined effort is a program that emphasizes local delivery and maximum utilization of existing requirements and resources. For that reason, the majority of construction activities needing permits will be able to obtain a low cost general permit in conjunction with the local certification of their Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Plan.

Sussex County Soil Conservation District
186 Halsey Road, Suite 2
Newton, New Jersery 07860