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About New River Soil and Water Conservation District

“We work with the people who work the land.”

Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the Commonwealth of Virginia assist landowners with the development and implementation of conservation practices. These conservation practices are installed through cost-share and tax credit programs that focus on water quality improvement and environmental stewardship. Not only do these practices improve our local environment, the installation and proper management of conservation practices also help to improve farm operational profitability.

Our History

The New River Soil and Water Conservation District was first established as a result of a referendum held in June, 1940, in Carroll and Grayson counties. On December 30, 1943, Floyd County was added to the District. Boundaries were changed again in 1972 when Floyd County withdrew. In 1975, the City of Galax successfully petitioned the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Commission to join the New River SWCD. The latest change in the District happened on August 26, 1944, when the Commission was petitioned to form a single-county district.


Today the New River DIstrict is made up of Carroll and Grayson Counties and the City of Galax, and includes all the land within their borders; an area of approximately 615,820 acres. Forestland accounts for approximately 281,550 acres, pastureland for 173,400 acres, and cropland for 128,000 acres. 

About SWCD's

Soil and Water Conservation Districts are self-governed subdivisions of state government. The 46 districts across Virginia are funded primarily through local government appropriations, fund-raising projects, and state, federal, and private grants. Their leaders, called directors, are locally elected citizens who set priorities, guide and direct work, activities and programs for the district personnel. Conservation district directors are not paid. Because conservation districts are citizen-directed organizations, they are practical partners to coordinate local, state, and federal watershed initiatives to protect natural resources and enhance water quality. Conservation district personnel encourage good stewardship by helping people manage the soil, water, air, plants and animals so their watershed can sustain them for generations to come. Healthy watersheds balance the needs of people, the land and, natural resources, providing for stable economies that enable people to enjoy a quality of life. 

Conservation Assistance

Citizens rely on their local soil and water conservation districts for help in many ways: 

  • developing and overseeing implementation of comprehensive conservation plans for efficient production and good stewardship of natural resources, such as reducing soil erosion and managing nutrients and pesticides

  • helping residents identify community watershed pollution problems that involve local interests

  • providing financial assistance for installing Best Management Practices (BMP's) on agricultural and forest lands

  • offering low cost rental of equipment like no-till seeders to encourage conservation practices

  • participating in land use decisions to protect prime farmland in urbanizing areas

  • providing environmental education via a week long summer conservation camp; Envirothon (National environmental competition for high school students at state level); field days/demonstrations to professionals and homeowners and outreach projects with schools to help students become environmentally aware, action-oriented adults

  • coordinating public participation in natural resource issues



Conservation districts get help from many partners by way of technical and administrative assistance which, in turn, allows them to better serve their communities. 

The New River Soil and Water Conservation District is comprised of both Grayson and Carrolll counties, as well as the city of Galax. The District's overall objective is to ensure that every acre of land is treated according to its capabilities. This not only includes farm uses, but urban and industrial as well. These objectives are carried out by encouraging every farm to have a conservation plan, and every county and town to adopt and carry out Virginia's Erosion and Sediment Control Program. New River Soil and Water Conservation District will work toward these objectives through education, evaluation of Erosion and Sediment Control plans, farm planning, and the BMP Cost-Share Program. We will continue to work in these areas to meet our goal of improving our environment and the conservation of our natural resources.

Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD)

A non-governmental association of conservation districts and their directors that offers capacity-building support through awards, educational activities, and promotional and marketing assistance. The association provides districts a voice in state and federal processes. 

Please click here to visit Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts' webpage. 

Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)

This state agency is the lead nonpoint-source pollution control agency for the Commonwealth; its soil and water conservation programs are committed to protecting water quality throughout Virginia. 

Please click here to visit Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's webpage. 

Virginia Cooperative Extensions (VCE)

Affiliated with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, locally employed staff carry out the schools' primary missions of education and research. Most conservation district boards have VCE representation. 

Please click here to visit Virginia Cooperation Extension's webpage. 

Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF)

The VDOF is charged with the protection of the forest resources from fire. The principle goals of the Forest Protection Program are to prevent injury or loss of human life, minimize property damage and protect resources.The Department also provides technical assistance to private landowners to assist them in managing their forest land for forest products, water quality, protection of threatened and endangered species, historic resources and wildlife habitat; provides marketing and utilization assistance to forest industry and provides technical assistance in managing state owned lands of other agencies. 

Please click here to visit Virginia Department of Forestry's webpage. 

Soil and water conservation districts work with local government and various civic, community, and conservation organizations. These groups provide districts financial and staff support, while looking to districts to provide unbiased information concerning local land-use and water quality issues. 

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