Though Congress has consistently developed conservation programs in recent years, it has also failed to provide the funding necessary to accomplish its goals. As a result, achievements in protecting America's land and water resources have been accompanied by significant frustration and burnout on the part of employees and volunteers. With One Voice tells the story of America's national soil and water conservation efforts through the eyes of the National Association of Conservation Districts, providing a reference for people who seek to refine and implement these programs.
Since 1980, five major farm bills have dramatically changed the soil and water conservation program in the United States. From a program based entirely on education, voluntary action, and incentives aimed at assisting private landowners with soil-conserving practices, regulatory elements have been added. Long-term planning and contracting has largely replaced single-practice approaches.
Soil and water conservation districts have changed in response. These local, state-chartered organizations provide much of the outreach to the farmers, ranchers, and forest owners that manage two-thirds of America's land. As those landowners continue to face new opportunities and challenges, conservation programs must constantly adjust.
The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) has also changed dramatically in twenty-five years. As personal computers moved from novelty to essential tool, electronic communications replaced printed materials, and political activity in Washington became more partisan and divisive, NACD had to adapt.
This book describes, in careful detail, how one organization has tried to maintain a basic vision and commitment in the face of tumultuous change. Readers who work with or within today's conservation programs will gain needed insight into how those programs emerged, and why they work the way they do today.