What is the Blue Ridge Soil & Water Conservation District?

The Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District (Blue Ridge SWCD) is one of 47 Districts in the Commonwealth of Virginia whose Boards are tasked with implementing Virginia’s Best Management Practice Cost Share Programs to farmers and agriculture producers. Urban property owners in our are can benefit through the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP) (https://vaswcd.org/vcap).

The Blue Ridge SWCD was organized under authority of the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District Law (Senate Bill NO. 38 passed by the 1938 session of the General Assembly) and was formed on September 28, 1939. The Blue Ridge SWCD represents the counties of Franklin, Henry, City of Roanoke and Roanoke County.

The Blue Ridge SWCD has full-time employees who work with area agriculture producers and manage cost share applications and programs. The District also has an elected Board of Directors.

What do Directors do on the Board?

The Blue Ridge SWCD’s Board is elected, voluntary and non-regulatory. Directors promote the voluntary adoption of conservation management practices such as fencing cattle out of the streams, installing animal waste storage facilities, installing riparian buffers and planting cover crops. Land owners who want to receive funding apply, and funding is allocated based on a ranking system.

The District Board also supports a strong education outreach program. In addition to offering education outreach programs in the schools and working with Envirothon. Every year high school Seniors or College Freshmen who are planning careers in natural resources are selected through an application process to receive up to a $1,000 scholarship. the District Board also awards two all-expense paid scholarships for high school students to attend the Youth Conservation Camp at Virginia Tech.

Funding is also available for urban areas through the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP), a voluntary stormwater management cost-share program that provides financial reimbursement for urban property owners installing Best Management Practices (riparian buffers, permeable pavement, rain gardens, rain water harvesting systems, green roofs, etc.).

Why are Directors elected?

In 1937, President Roosevelt asked the governors of each state to recommend legislation to form Soil and Water Conservation Districts in support of the 1935 Congressional Act of declaring soil and water conservation and smart land use a national policy (Public Law 46). The Virginia Legislature responded by passing the Virginia Soil Conservation District Law to provide local citizens the opportunity to shape conservation activities in their own communities.

Soil and Water Conservation Districts are a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia 9formed under the authority of Title 21, Code of Virginia, passed by the General Assembly in 1938).