North Carolina has a strong heritage in soil and water conservation as a result of the work of native son Dr. Hugh Hammond Bennett, a soil scientist from Anson County. In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, Dr. Bennett brought national attention to the issues of soil erosion, resulting in the creation of a federal soil conservation program and the creation of local soil and water conservation districts. The Brown Creek Soil and Water Conservation District in Anson County, NC, home of Dr. Bennett, was the first district to become organized in the nation.
Soon after the creation of local conservation districts, the NC Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts was organized in 1944 to support and enhance the efforts of local soil and water conservation districts in conserving the natural resources of North Carolina. It is organized exclusively for educational, scientific, and charitable purposes and is a 501(c)(3) organization. The Association is made up of the 96 local soil and water local conservation districts that are guided by a board of local citizens, three of whom are elected (non-partisan), with two being appointed. These districts were created in 1937 by North Carolina General Statute 139 for the primary purpose of providing local direction to voluntary, incentive based conservation programs to assist landowners protect and conserve the state’s natural resources, including soil, water, wildlife, unique plant and animal habitats, and others.