Our strategy is to serve the conservation needs of our cooperators by collaborating with over 20 state and federal agencies, and many other partners who all have authority, funding, or expertise in the management of the land, water, air, wildlife, and other natural resources. Through our support, District Cooperators are able to develop, fund and implement sound conservation plans.
Conservation Districts coordinate with many state agencies that have responsibilities for lands and resources in Arizona.
The Arizona State Land Department is responsible for administering the 9.3 million acres of State Trust lands in Arizona for the benefit of Arizona’s schools and other Trust beneficiaries. That is about 13 percent of the land in Arizona. Most of the State Trust lands are leased for grazing. Some are leased for farming and commercial uses. The State Land Commissioner for the State Land Department also serves as the State Natural Resource Conservation Commissioner for Conservation Districts authorized under state law. Other state agencies include the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, Arizona Department of Water Resources, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Arizona Department of Agriculture, and Arizona State Parks who also administer the State Historic Preservation Office.
Conservation Districts have a historic relationship with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, formerly the Soil Conservation Service. The Districts and the Soil Conservation Service were established together as a nationwide model for locally led conservation back in the dust bowl. NRCS District Conservationists continue to work with the local Conservation District Boards to help prioritize the use of Farm Bill funding in Arizona. Other USDA agencies such as the Farm Services Agency, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service provide important programs and services to farmers and ranchers.
Partnering with tribes is vital to the management of Arizona’s resources. Arizona is home to 21 federally recognized tribes who manage about 27 percent of Arizona’s land– about 19.8 million acres. . Five Conservation Districts were established by Tribal law on the Navajo Nation. Five other Tribal Soil and Water Conservation Districts were established under Tribal laws on the Hualapai, Hopi, Tohono O’odham, San Carlos Apache, and White Mountain Apache Reservations. The Parker Valley NRCD serving the Colorado River Indian Tribes was authorized under State law.
The other Arizona tribes are Cooperators with their local Conservation District The natural resources on Tribal lands may be administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, by the Tribe, or both.
The Bureau of Land Management manages 12.2 million acres and the Forest Service administers 11.3 million acres in Arizona. Many of these lands are managed together with private and state land for ranching. Some of these federal lands are used for mining, recreation, and other uses. Eighteen National Parks and Monuments managed by the National Park Service cove 1.2 million acres. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages 1.7 million acres in Arizona. The Department of Defense controls 3 million acres. Together, these federal agencies administer the natural resource uses on 30.7 million acres, or 42 percent of Arizona. Federal environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and National Historic Preservation Act require that federal agencies consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State Historic Preservation Officer, the Corp of Engineers, and other agencies before conservation efforts are implemented with federal funds. The Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act administered by the Environmental Protection Agency also affect land management decisions.
Arizona Districts are authorized to cooperate with any municipality on matters related to soil conservation or land use planning. Many Conservation Districts work closely with their County Board of Supervisors and city managers.
Arizona’s Universities and federal research agencies such as the Agricultural Research Service and Rocky Mountain Research Station work with Conservation Districts, agencies, and Tribes in Arizona to help ensure that land management decisions are based on sound science. The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Service has delivered decades of science based training and workshops, and developed handbooks for landowners, agencies, tribes and the public. Northern Arizona University is a leader in southwest forest and woodland management.
Agricultural commodity groups, professional societies, environmental organizations, local watershed groups, noxious weed management groups, irrigation districts, and other organizations each play important roles in Arizona’s conservation effort. They help bring new ideas and commonsense approaches to address complex issues.
To provide leadership, and encourage collaboration, information sharing and coordinated action for the benefit of conservation in Arizona, to enhance and protect this state’s natural resources.
The partnership will provide a framework for landscape scale conservation, using a collaborate approach that will maintain, restore and enhance Arizona’s economic and environmental quality of life.