Soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) are independent subdivisions of state government, governed by boards of supervisors, local landowners, and residents who are either elected or appointed. SWCDs are authorized by the Soil and Water Conservation District Act (73-20-25 through 73-20-48 NMSA 1978 ) to perform a variety of functions. SWCDs conserve and develop the natural resources of the state, provide for flood control, preserve wildlife, and protect the tax base. This work promotes 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 natural resource concerns. Forty-seven SWCDs encompass the majority of New Mexico’s land area.
New Mexico Soil and Water Conservation Commission (SWCC)
The SWCC is 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, wherein one person represents each of the six regions designated by NMDA. The seventh member is selected to serve at large.
There are five ex-officio members. The first is the governor or his/her designee. The second is associate director of cooperative extension service of NMSU or his designee. The third is the associate director of the agriculture experiment station of NMSU or his designee. The fourth is the state conservationist of NRCS of the USDA or his designee. The fifth is the president of NMACD or his designee. The ex-officio members shall serve without vote.
The SWCC may promulgate rules to carry out the Soil and Water Conservation District Act. It also advises NMDA on any matter that affects soil and water conservation and SWCDs. The SWCC approves the point-system spreadsheet for funding distribution. The SWCC also awards 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. This includes water-based recreation, flood prevention, flood control, erosion prevention and control of erosion, and floodwater and sediment damages. The land area in watershed districts must be contiguous and lie within a well-defined watershed area or subwatershed areas. They may embrace lands lying in one or more SWCDs, and may embrace lands lying partly within and partly outside an SWCD. There are seven active watershed districts in New Mexico.