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
  • Farm infrastructure funding: 13 urban farms and gardens received funding for garden infrastructure, allowing these organizations to provide key food access and security to numerous local residents during a trying and financially difficult year.
  • Road improvement grants: $240,000 awarded to Allegheny County municipalities for dirt, gravel and low volume road improvement projects
  • Increased tree canopy: 600 trees planted along Allegheny County streams as riparian buffers to improve water quality
  • Farmland preservation: 242 acres are in the process of being preserved in Jefferson Hills and West Deer
  • Erosion and sediment pollution control: 296 permits administered for earth disturbance activities to protect waterways and communities from erosion and sediment pollution

View our 2020 annual report.