More than 70 years of improving Allegheny County water and soil
A look at conservation districts from past to present

What is a conservation district?
By definition, conservation districts are “government entities that provide technical assistance and tools to manage and protect land and water resources.” In reality, defining a conservation district is much more difficult. Conservation districts are multi-faceted organizations that take on a variety of projects and programs each with a unique focus on local issues.

Conservation districts do everything from planting trees and restoring streambanks to permitting and inspecting construction sites, all to ensure the protection and sustainability of natural resources.


The devastation of the 1930s Dust Bowl led to new legislation, making local conservation districts possible.

It all started with the Dust Bowl.
Over 80 years ago, a drought caused topsoil to erode away, resulting in devastating dust storms stretching from Texas to New York. The Dust Bowl spurred Congress to unanimously pass legislation on soil and water conservation and caused President Franklin D. Roosevelt to recommend each state adopt legislation and form local soil conservation districts.

Today, the Allegheny County Conservation District is one of nearly 3,000 conservation districts nationwide.

Forming an urban conservation district
Allegheny County Conservation District, formed in 1946 via a county resolution, is one of the state’s largest conservation districts. ACCD addresses the unique conservation issues of the Pittsburgh region, including stormwater runoff, sediment pollution, erosion, soil lead contamination and acid mine drainage.

Our year in review
  • Free soil lead screenings: Over 1,600 free soil lead tests provided to individuals and nonprofits, representing a savings to those groups of over $45,000
  • Road improvement grants: $364,000 awarded to Allegheny County municipalities for dirt, gravel and low volume road improvement projects
  • Increased tree canopy: 500 trees planted along Allegheny County streams as riparian buffers to improve water quality with 1,000 more trees to be planted in 2019
  • Farmland preservation: 63-acres preserved in West Deer Township, bringing the county’s total preserved acreage to 3,630
  • Erosion and sediment pollution control: 203 permits administered for earth disturbance activities to protect waterways and communities from erosion and sediment pollution
  • Regional project funding: $100,000 awarded in Conservation, Leadership and Innovation Grants to Allegheny County nonprofits and municipalities

Follow along as we celebrate the work of Pennsylvania's 66 conservation districts.