What Does a Conservation District Do?

Examples of the work led by Conservation Districts include:
  • Protecting soil and water resources from the impact of climate change
  • Organizing Local Working Groups that help identify conservation needs and prioritize activities
  • Promoting renewable energy production and use
  • Providing green jobs
  • Assisting agricultural operations and natural resource enterprises
  • Combating harmful pests and invasive species
  • Helping farms remain vibrant and economically sustainable
  • Providing farm planning services and technical assistance to landowners
  • Conducting conservation education, workshops, and demonstration projects
  • Offering environmental scholarships
  • Running native plant sales
  • Supporting the Massachusetts Envirothon environmental education program and competition for high school students
Under Massachusetts General Law (MGL), Chapter 21, Conservation Districts have the authority to:
  • Conduct surveys, investigations, and research projects
  • Carry out preventative and control measures on public and private land
  • Cooperate with, enter into agreements with, or provide aid to any government agency, private organization, or landowner
  • Acquire and make available machinery, equipment, and materials to landowners
  • Develop comprehensive plans for large and small projects
  • Accept contribution or appropriation of money, services, materials, from the Commonwealth or any person or organization
  • Enter into agreements or covenants with private landowners governing the permanent use of their lands
  • Acquire real property, such as land or equipment, by purchase, exchange, gift, grant, bequest, or other means

Conservation Partnerships

Conservation Districts have well-established, long-term working relationships with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Districts provide an established structure that can quickly supply the expertise and workforce needed to solve environmental issues.
  • State Commission for the Conservation of Soil, Water, and Related Resources: As part of the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the State Commission serves as an important resource for local Conservation Districts. Comprised of representatives from various state environmental agencies – including the departments of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Environmental Protection (MassDEP), and Fish & Game – the State Commission provide Conservation Districts with direct access to technical and financial resources.
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service: NRCS is a federal agency that works hand-in-hand with the people of Massachusetts to protect and improve their soil, water, and other natural resources. For decades, private landowners have voluntarily worked with NRCS specialists to prevent soil erosion, improve water quality, and promote sustainable agriculture. NRCS employs soil conservationists, soil scientists, agronomists, biologists, engineers, geologists, and resource planners. These experts help landowners develop conservation plans, restore and create wetlands, restore and manage other natural ecosystems, and advise on stormwater remediation, nutrient and animal waste management, and watershed planning. By being the voice of the community, Conservation Districts can ensure that federal NRCS conservation program dollars are spent effectively in their area to meet local needs and make a greater conservation impact.

What Is a Conservation District Supervisor?

Each Conservation District typically has a seven-person Board of Supervisors elected by county residents and landowners. Supervisors are volunteers who serve the people, landowners, and communities within their District by observing, reporting on, advocating for, and directing efforts to address natural resource issues of local concern. Supervisors strive to understand natural resource issues and to know the individuals, groups, businesses, agencies, and organizations that impact or are impacted by these issues, particularly those related to agriculture and forestry. Each Board of Supervisors holds public meetings, usually monthly, where any member of the community can discuss conservation concerns and request assistance.

MACD Conservation District Supervisor resources