Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District
17 Olson Road, Suite 3
South Paris ME 04281
Project/Program Manager, Michele Windsor 744-3111
Education & Outreach Coordinator, Jean E. Federico 744-3119
The Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District (OCSWCD) is one of 16 districts in Maine that help people conserve land, water, and forests. While each district has different focuses, we are united by a single goal: to assist locally-led conservation. We work with local stakeholders to identify local natural resource conservation problems, develop solutions, and assist in applying the solutions to the land.
Besides local people, we work with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and other state and federal agencies. We are funded by state and county sources, private donations, and State and federal grants, and are governed by a volunteer Board of Supervisors. Soil & Water Conservation Districts are non-regulatory agencies of the State of Maine working independently to promote conservation in Maine.
The History of Soil and Water Conservation Districts
Soil and Water Conservation Districts arose as a result of the environmental disaster of the 1930’s known as the “Great Dust Bowl”. This event brought the nation’s attention to the fact that soil is a precious natural resource as it takes approximately 100 years for only 1 inch of topsoil to form. During the 1930’s, farmers were losing about 3 to 5 inches of topsoil per year due to poor farming practices and dry windy conditions. Soils were being carried away by wind and deposited hundreds of miles away. As this life-giving soil literally rained down on Washington D.C., there was a federal call to action by soil scientist Hugh Hammond Bennett to create laws to provide the basis for local conservation districts. The Districts worked with local farmers, connecting them to valuable federal government programs designed to help them adopt practices which aided in soil and water conservation. Maine joined in by ratifying the authorizing legislation in 1941 to establish Soil & Water Conservation Districts in every county in the state. Today, we are losing topsoil to erosion at the rate of about 5 tons per acre a year, or about the thickness of a dime. The function of conservation districts was, and still is, to address the needs within the district for maintaining or improving soil and water quality.