Introduction to conservation districts (SWCDs) in New Mexico; links to laws and regulations, FAQs, and handbooks.
Soil and water conservation districts are independent subdivisions of state government governed by boards of supervisors, local landowners and residents elected or appointed to the board for a four year term. A soil and water conservation district (SWCD) is authorized by the Soil and Water Conservation District Act (73-20-25 through 73-20-48 NMSA 1978 ) to conserve and develop the natural resources of the state, provide for flood control, preserve wildlife, protect the tax base and promote the health, safety and general welfare of the people of New Mexico. SWCDs coordinate assistance from all available sources — public and private, local, state and federal — in an effort to develop locally-driven solutions to local natural resource concerns. Forty-seven SWCDs encompass the majority of New Mexico’s land area.
The boundaries of the SWCDs were recently mapped in GIS and are available in PDF format as well as a data file for GIS use. Contact the department if you are interested in obtaining the files.
New Mexico Soil and Water Conservation Commission (SWCC)
The SWCC shall be composed of seven appointed members and five ex-officio members. The seven members of the SWCC are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the governor. Six of the members are district supervisors, one representing each of the six regions designated by NMDA. The seventh member is selected to serve at large. The five ex-officio members comprised of: the governor or his designee, the associate director of cooperative extension service of NMSU or his designee, the associate director of the agriculture experiment station of NMSU or his designee, the state conservationist of NRCS of the USDA or his designee, and the president of NMACD or his designee, shall serve without vote.
The SWCC may promulgate rules to carry out the Soil and Water Conservation District Act, and advises NMDA on any matter that affects soil and water conservation and the SWCDs. The SWCC approves the point system spreadsheet for funding distribution, and award annual grants for water quality and conservation projects through the request for proposal (RFP) process.
Watershed Districts are formed for the purpose of conservation of water, or of water usage, including water-based recreation, flood prevention, flood control, erosion prevention and control of erosion, and floodwater and sediment damages. The land area in a watershed district must be contiguous and must lie within a well-defined watershed area or subwatershed areas; and may embrace lands lying in one or more soil and water conservation districts, or lands lying partly within and partly outside a soil and water conservation district. There are seven active watershed districts in New Mexico.
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