By Greenville County Soil and Water Conservation District

Across the United States, nearly 3,000 conservation districts work to conserve and promote healthy soils, water, forests and wildlife. Districts share a single mission: to develop local solutions that promote the wise and responsible use of natural resources.

This mission was born out of a dire situation. In the early 1930s, along with the greatest depression this nation ever experienced, came an equally unparalleled ecological disaster known as the Dust Bowl. Following a severe and sustained drought in the Great Plains, the region’s soil began to erode and blow away, creating huge dust storms that blotted out the sun and swallowed the countryside. Thousands of “dust refugees” left the black fog to seek better lives.

These storms soon stretched across the nation. They reached south to Texas and east to New York. In these years before air conditioning, dust sifted into the White House and onto the desk of President Franklin Roosevelt. On Capitol Hill, while testifying about the erosion problem, soil scientist Hugh Hammond Bennett threw back the curtains to reveal a sky blackened by dust. Congress unanimously passed legislation declaring soil and water conservation a national policy and priority.

In 1937, Roosevelt wrote the governors of all the states recommending legislation that would allow local landowners to form soil conservation districts. South Carolina’s Governor, Olin D. Johnston, signed the S.C. Conservation Districts Law on April 17, 1937.

Today, the Greenville County Soil and Water Conservation District assists with:

  • Agricultural conservation — Work with farmers to implement conservation practices such as converting to no-till, planting cover crops, and creating buffer zones and filter strips.
  • Urban conservation — Serve as a resource for Greenville County residents and landowners to learn about backyard conservation practices that can reduce stormwater pollution, such as rainwater harvesting, composting, and chemical-free gardening.
  • Environmental education — Provide free presentations and educational opportunities for adults and K-12 students.

Are you interested in learning more about our conservation programs and education? Visit to learn more.

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