Deer standing in a green field

Strengthening the RCD Network

There is a broad spectrum of capacity amongst Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs), and we are leading an unprecedented effort aimed at elevating the statewide network so that districts can collectively achieve their vision of being Relevant, Excellent, and Visible go-to hubs for conservation in their communities.

RCDs around the state are engaging with their communities to solve complex habitat, drought, groundwater, agriculture and other pressing challenges. Many of the districts are strong, vibrant, and technically skilled local agencies that have diverse programs and services available to their constituents. However, in cases where an RCD is struggling with capacity — which is almost always due to a lack of baseline funding — CARCD plays an active role in working to support that district by seeking new funding and partnership opportunities that can improve their sustainability. These efforts are funded in part by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the California Department of Conservation.

CARCD also works with with Local Area Formation Commissions (also known as LAFCOs, the local agencies that are tasked with drawing up special district boundaries and Spheres of Influence) throughout the state to identify opportunities for district improvement and transparency, including consolidation of adjacent districts when and where appropriate.

For example, in the Central Valley RCDs are an asset for addressing the unique landscape-scale resource challenges of the region—including wildlife habitat and water scarcity—while contributing to a vibrant economy.

In addition to the resources invested statewide, CARCD has taken an interest in the Central Valley because it is a critical agricultural region that is home to unique environmental challenges. We also recognize a promising opportunity, in that relatively small investments of resources could amplify the important work that RCDs are already doing in the region.

With the support of federal, state, and private funders, CARCD is working in the Central Valley to:

● Build local support for a refined and expanded RCD network by collaborating with partners such as local government offices/officials, community leaders, and other collaborators to understand community needs and how the RCD programs could best meet those needs.

● Addressing logistics like the LAFCo fees associated with consolidating inactive districts and expanding territory of active districts in the region. Cleaning up district boundaries will make the existing RCDs more effective and focused, and expand services into formally inactive areas.

Similar work to strengthen the RCD network is happening in regions throughout California. Our vision for the State is one where every resident has equitable access to the environmental, economic, and educational benefits and resources that RCDs provide. The RCDs are well-positioned to improve their efficiency and expand the scope and scale of their services, so that they can implement projects and programs with measurable conservation outcomes throughout California.