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Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint), chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, welcomed McKean County Conservation District Manager Sandy Thompson to the state Capitol Wednesday for a committee meeting to discuss the operations of conservation districts statewide. Source: Rep. Martin Causer

The wide array of programs and support services offered by the state’s 66 county conservation districts, which are defined as, "local units of government established under state law to carry out natural resource management programs at a local level," were the subject of an informational meeting of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, earlier this week.

Potter County is home to the state’s very first conservation district, established in November 1945. There are now 66 districts – one in every county but Philadelphia – and each has evolved over time to serve the specific needs of the regions they serve.

McKean County Conservation District Manager Sandy Thompson was one of four presenters at the meeting, outlining for committee members the importance of the Dirt, Gravel, and Low-Volume Road program administered at the statewide level by the State Conservation Commission and at the local level by county conservation districts.

Conservation district managers from Blair and Lancaster counties also appeared before the committee, as did officials with the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts.

Brenda Shambaugh, executive director of the PA Association of Conservation Districts (PACD), also addressed the committee and shared a video highlighting the history of conservation districts in the state. First established by law in 1945, the districts were charged with the protection of soil, water, and related resources on a local level.

Over the years, the districts have evolved to cover an array of environmental protection and conservation initiatives, including clean water, agricultural practices, stormwater management, forest management, dirt and gravel roads, invasive species, and more. Conservation districts also engage in environmental education initiatives for people of all ages. For more information about conservation districts in the Commonwealth, visit