Conservation and protection
Find local resources for managing soil and water, preventing erosion, and disposing agricultural debris
The mission of LDAF's Office of Soil & Water Conservation (OSWC) is to sustain and conserve water quality and soil stability on croplands, woodlands, grasslands, wetlands, and waterways of Louisiana. We do this by providing financial assistance, administrative support, and centralized coordination to the state’s 44 Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) , which work with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to provide conservation planning services for landowners and managers.
The OSWC also employs technical specialists who work directly with landowners in Louisiana’s coastal zone and in priority watersheds to remedy identified water quality, soil loss, and wetland loss concerns in those areas.
The Office of Soil & Water Conservation provides financial assistance, administrative support, centralized direction, and coordination to Louisiana’s 44 Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), which provide conservation planning services to landowners within their individual districts. SWCDs are local units of state government with capabilities very unique to any other form of state or local government due mainly to their capability of entering private property at the request of landowners to plan and/or construct various conservation systems.
SWCDs are established at the request of resident landowners from within the proposed SWCD. Each SWCD is governed by a board of 5 supervisors, 3 locally elected and 2 appointed by the state Soil and Water Conservation Commission (SWCC). These supervisors are landowners or farm operators from within the SWCD and represent local conservation needs and concerns. Each SWCD typically hires 2 or more employees to assist in carrying out conservation planning, office administration, conservation program administration, conservation education, and similar duties. SWCDs are funded by the State Legislature and through self-generated income. Each of Louisiana’s 44 SWCDs is assisted by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Best management practices can be used by farmers to conserve soil and protect water by eliminating ag waste. To find a list of crop and livestock BMPs, visit LSU AgCenter BMPs
Also, see our forestry best management practices .
Best Management Practices adopted through this program allow facilities such as rice dyers, grain elevators, cotton gins, seafood processors, and similar operations, or facilities generating wood waste or stable manure to carry out their activities in an environmentally sound manner, where otherwise these operations would be subject to the LDEQ solid waste permitting process at public expense. By affected producers and processors implementing prescribed BMPs through this program, agricultural waste, and by-products may be utilized beneficially as organic fertilizer, mulch, and other useful products.
The OSWC promotes best management practices for beneficially using organic solid waste materials. The BMP program allows for less regulatory oversight from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) of organic solid waste materials determined to pose no risk or minimal risk to human health and the environment if managed properly.
Find the BMP Plan Guidelines here .
This program is conducted through partnerships among the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources/Coastal Restoration Division, LDAF's Office of Soil & Water Conservation, and eleven coastal SWCDs. Using locally adapted plant species, an average of 30 linear miles of shoreline and interior wetland restoration plantings are implemented each year within the LA coastal zone.
These 30 miles are an aggregate of 20-25 annual planting projects that differ greatly according to environmental parameters, plant materials used, and restorative effects. By transferring these restoration techniques through local SWCDs to land owners with whom they establish a long-term working relationship, many land owners are able to knowledgeably and affordably contribute to these restoration efforts.
Nonpoint source pollution, a type of water pollution that results from rainfall run-off from broad landscapes rather than from a specific source, is the largest remaining type of water pollution that needs to be addressed within Louisiana and across the nation in order to restore the designated uses (i.e. fishing and swimming) to impaired water bodies.
Typical agricultural nonpoint source pollutants include sediment, pesticides, nutrients, and oxygen-demanding organic matter. With EPA funding provided through Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, the OSWC helps to address agricultural activities that can result in the discharge of these pollutants into receiving water bodies.
The OSWC works with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and local SWCDs to coordinate the planning and voluntary implementation of Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) on farms in priority watersheds to reduce the amount of nonpoint source pollutants entering water bodies.
These Best Management Practices comprise various structures and methods of operation whereby sediment, pesticides, nutrients, and organic matter are stabilized or beneficially utilized on the landscape with lessened susceptibility of runoff. This program is closely coordinated with LDEQ’s water quality protection efforts.
Learn about Louisiana Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) participation in the EPA 319 Nonpoint Source Abatement Program through your local SWCD .
Bayou de Cannes
Bayou Queue de Tortue
Bayou du Portage
Big North Creek
Bayou Grosse Tete
Feral swine are present in all 64 Louisiana parishes and according to a recent study by the LSU AgCenter, feral hogs have caused over $90 million in damages to agriculture and timber lands each year. Louisiana Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) work with private landowners to provide the means necessary to remove feral swine populations.
Through the Feral Swine Pilot Program partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), seven Louisiana SWCDs which consist of 10 parishes, were provided funding through the 2018 Farm Bill to focus eradication efforts in areas with high feral hog populations. These eradication efforts have been ongoing for SWCDs and include the purchasing of over 100 professional trap systems, funding for 9 trapping technicians and removal of over 12,000 feral hogs.
For over 30 SWCDs not in the pilot program, funding for over 60 professional trap systems came through the 2022 Supplemental Appropriations through a bill filed by Representative Jack McFarland. These funds allowed for purchasing traps, cameras and subscriptions for each participating district.
As of January 2023, 41 SWCDs are equipped with professional trapping system that are leased out to private landowners through Louisiana.
If interested in renting a professional trap system reach out to your local SWCD office for availability. Locate and contact your SWCD .
Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) – Project WET is an interdisciplinary water science and education program for formal and non-formal educators of students, grades k-12, designed to provide young people with the knowledge and skills needed to make informed decisions regarding water resource management. Educators receive the Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide by attending 6-hour educator workshops. Units of study include watersheds, wetlands, water science, surface and groundwater, atmospheric water, wastewater management, and many other relevant topics. This is the Office of Soil and Water Conservation's (OSWC) centerpiece education program.
Wonders of Wetlands (W.O.W) - The Wonders of Wetlands curriculum supplement contains numerous activities covering all parameters of wetlands study, including estuarine, riverine, and interior/upland wetlands of all types, salinity regimes, soil types, habitats, wildlife, and aquatic organisms. The activities are formatted identically to those of the Project WET Guide, and the two guides have several activities in common. The WOW curriculum supplement is often provided in tandem with the Project WET Guide.
Healthy Water/Healthy People (HWHP) – Developed by Project WET, "Healthy Water, Healthy People" is a water quality education program designed to encourage deeper investigation of water quality topics, issues, and parameters through materials appropriate for users from beginner to advanced. The basic materials include a Water Quality Educators Activity Guide for educators of students in grades 6 through the university level. Other materials include multiple parameter water testing kits and test kit instruction manuals. Instruction on the use of the HWHP manuals and test kits may be included in Project WET workshops or conducted separately.
Soil & Water Stewardship – Soil & Water Stewardship Program consists of various materials depicting an annually revised conservation theme and is developed and distributed to SWCDs by the National Association of Conservation Districts. This program benefits all members of the community by providing a specific theme or frame of awareness for enhancing public perception of conservation needs. Stewardship materials are distributed throughout the community in many forms, such as bookmarks, fact sheets, children’s coloring books, calendars, placemats, informational booklets, and other items. These items are generally distributed through various civic organizations, church gatherings, Parish fairs, and similar events.
Master Farmer – The Louisiana Master Farmer Program helps agricultural producers voluntarily address environmental concerns related to production agriculture, as well as enhance their production and resource management skills that will be critical for the continued viability of Louisiana agriculture. This program involves producers becoming more knowledgeable about environmental stewardship, resource-based production, and resource management through a voluntary producer certification process. The Master Framer program is led by the LSU Agriculture Center, and qualifying producers are certified as Louisiana Master Farmers by the LA Commissioner of Agriculture & Forestry.