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What is RC&D?

Two people putting chow chow in jars to sale."RC&D" is short for Resource Conservation and Development, a unique process that helps people protect and develop their economic, natural, and social resources in ways that improve their area's economy, environment, and quality of life. Local RC&D Councils provide ways for people to plan and implement projects that will make their communities a better place to live. They bring together people, needs, concerns, opportunities, and solutions.

RC&D areas were established in the Agriculture Act of 1962 to provide a program that empowers rural people to help themselves. The focus on local direction and control has made RC&D one of the most successful rural development programs of the federal government.

How many RC&D areas are in Alabama?

Nine authorized RC&D areas (map) cover the whole state. Each Council will open in a new page.

  • Ala-Tom: Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Dallas, Marengo, Monroe, Perry, Washington, and Wilcox Counties
  • CAWACO: Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby, and Walker Counties
  • Coosa Valley: Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Etowah, Randolph, St. Clair, Talladega, and Tallapoosa Counties
  • Gulf Coast: Baldwin, Escambia, and Mobile Counties
  • Mid-South: Autauga, Bullock, Butler, Elmore, Macon, Montgomery, and Lowndes Counties
  • Northwest: Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Marion, and Winston Counties
  • Alabama Mountains, Rivers, and Valleys (formerly Tennessee Valley): Cullman, DeKalb, Jackson, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marshall, and Morgan Counties
  • Tombigbee: Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Pickens, Sumter, and Tuscaloosa Counties
  • Wiregrass: Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Pike, and Russell Counties.

Can anyone be involved in RC&D?

Yes! ANYONE...

  • who believes that one person can make a difference.
  • who wants to be involved in making things happen in their community, county, region or state.
  • who wants to see natural resources used without adversely affecting the environment.
  • who wants to improve the quality of life in their community.

Pass the paddle picture of two men standing on deck with a young lad.Your local RC&D offers many opportunities for involvement and making things happen. It doesn't matter if you live in the city or the country; or if you are a business owner or a housewife; there's always a place for you in RC&D. They are constantly seeking private citizens, businesses, and organizations to become members of committees or to participate in planning projects, identifying priorities, or just helping with one activity.

If you are presently involved in a community project, seek out the RC&D Council in your project area. They may be able to provide you with technical assistance or funding, or can put you in touch with private and public organizations that can help you reach your goals. Consider working through your local RC&D Council when starting new projects in your community or region.

How Is An RC&D Organized?

An RC&D area covers several counties. RC&D areas include adjacent counties that have substantial natural resources to use for economic improvement and community betterment. Sponsors apply to the USDA Secretary of Agriculture for authorization. Once authorized, the USDA is committed to providing both financial and technical assistance.

RC&D areas can increase or decrease in size. New counties may join or charter counties may decide to go with other RC&D areas. USDA must approve requests for expansion.

Who are RC&D Sponsors?

Putting down rows of plastic using The local County Commission and the Soil and Water Conservation District's (SWCD's) Board sponsor each RC&D Council locally and voluntarily in each county. Sponsors can also include cities and towns, townships, civic organizations, regional planning bodies, local non-profit organizations, Indian tribal bodies, and others.

Sponsors are active in RC&D and appoint qualified representatives to serve on the Council to represent their interests. Sponsors provide input into the Council's plan of work through their representative.

What is a RC&D Council?

RC&D Councils in Alabama are non-profit, tax-exempt organizations within the state that are designated 501(c)(3) entities by the Internal Revenue Service. This standing makes them eligible to secure grant funds from private foundations and others, to receive private individual donations, to become holders of property, etc., as allowed by their by-laws.

RC&D Councils are made up of people just like you, who want a better life for themselves, their children, and future generations. RC&D Council representatives and alternates are volunteers who assist the RC&D.

Each RC&D Council operates independently, addressing the concerns and problems within their individual RC&D area. However, RC&Ds are more than willing to share ideas and information to keep others from reinventing the wheel.

What type of assistance does RC&D provide to a project?

RC&Ds identify agencies or organizations that can assist in completing each step of a project plan, serves as sources of technical assistance, and provides financial resources, if needed, and as possible. RC&D areas s provide the vehicle for achieving a goal and completing projects. However, a project is not an "RC&D project" in the sense that an RC&D Council does everything. Local leadership and support are key elements for any successful project.

The amount and kind of assistance depends on the type of project and the local Council's wishes.  Types of assistance available include:

  • identifying potential funding sources
  • writing grants
  • serving as a conduit for "pass-through" grants
  • helping with grant administration
  • organizing events
  • hiring multi-county employees
  • conducting tours and educational events
  • serving as an umbrella organization for new non-profits and foundations
  • coordinating technical assistance
  • conducting research
  • coordinating mailings
  • conducting information campaigns

What can RC&Ds do that other organizations can't?

Within an RC&D area, you can do anything the local people want to do, as long as it fits within the Council's long range plans and goals for the area. For example, an RC&D Council can:

  • create a park
  • provide a community facility
  • open a tourist attraction
  • correct erosion problems
  • work on water quality issues
  • promote local industry
  • build a timber bridge
  • provide funding for rural emergency medical services and equipment
  • promote use of modern telecommunications technology in rural areas
  • provide animal waste technical assistance
  • develop a wildlife habitat restoration or wetland education area
  • build a nature trail
  • stabilize a storm water channel
  • provide funding for windbreak projects
  • preserve a historical site

RC&Ds are not entities of government; therefore, the usual policies and constraints of local, state, and federal government programs do not limit them in the kinds of issues they decide to address or how they decide to do it. Local people on the Council determine the types of concerns, projects, and activities in which they will become involved. RC&Ds lean towards projects that have not (or cannot) be addressed by other entities such as their Conservation Partners (SWCD, NRCS, etc.).

RC&Ds in Alabama depends on the leadership abilities and unique skills within the communities it serves. That is why so many worthwhile projects have been undertaken and accomplished throughout the state. The RC&D  Councils in Alabama are proud of their accomplishments; but there is much yet that can be done to make our communities a better place to live. 

Additional Links 

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Success Stories

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Alabama Mountains, Rivers and Valleys RC&D Provides Assistance to the Echota Cherokee 4-10
Cawaco RC&D Grant Helps Walker County Students Monitor Water (10/09)
Coosa Valley RC&D Funds Lake Martin Assessment Project (3-10)
Coosa Valley RC&D Sponsors Outreach Computer Lab Expansion (3-10)

Coosa Valley RC&D Council and Talladega SWCD/NRCS Assists with Local Community Garden (6-09)
Coosa Valley RC&D Sponsors “Ponds for Kids Project” (2-10)

Coosa Valley RC&D Council Sponsors Poster Contest (2-10)
Coosa Valley RC&D Grant "Reachs-Out" To Assist Talladega Residents
Federal Inspection Opens up World of Opportunity for Alabama Producers, Sheep Industry News (NW RC&D)  May 2010
Horticulture Training Program Helps Persons with Disabilities Build on their Strengths, (Ala-Tom RC&D), Alabama Cooperative Farming News-October 2006 (.pdf)
Kids Making Better Choices DVD Garners National Spotlight at RC&D Meeting  (3/10)
Little Shades Creek Enhancement Cawaco RC&D Project (2-10)
Merle Wallace Purvis Center Receives Wiregrass RC&D Grant  (11-09)
"New Life for Women" Receives Funding from Coosa Valley RC&D (4-10)
Northwest AL RC&D Council Helps Sponsor Art Mural Project in Colbert County (9/09)

NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant Helps Rural Producer Install Solar Power (10-10)
Ohatchee Elementary School Receives RC&D Funds for Playground (Anniston Star, January 16, 2010, will open in new window)
Something to Do, Someplace to Love, and Something to Look Forward To (McDaniel, Monroe Co), Cooperative Farming News 6/05 (.pdf)
Talladega Landowner Shares Gardens of Huckleberry Hill (Talladega Co. and Coosa Valley RC&D (6-09)
Wallace State Unveils Nutrient Recycling Project
Wiregrass RC&D Hosts a Farmer Workshop 3-30-12

Archived Stories.  Copies available from the webmaster.

Cawaco RC&D Grant Helps Build Nature Walk (2/08)
Cawaco RC&D Helps Restore Town Creek (7-08)
Cawaco RC&D Helps with Life Jacket Loaner Program (.pdf, 77 KB)
Cawaco RC&D Sponsors Stream Restoration Workshop
Continued Success in Cypress Creek (Lauderdale County) (2-08)
Conservation Tillage Workshop Held in Andalusia  (.pdf, 80 KB)
Cooperative Conservation in the Urban Setting (Cawaco RC&D) (.pdf, 67 KB)
Emergency Warning System Installed in Rural Blount County
Five Mile Creek Group Holds 3rd Annual Cleanup (Cawaco RC&D) (.pdf, 70 KB)
Grant Means Upgrades for Grist Mill in Talladega County
Greater Peace Nature Trail (Coosa Valley RC&D and Lee Co NRCS/SWCD) (PDF, 124 KB)
Lower Cost Poultry Litter Storage Innovations
Maplesville High School Creates Outdoor Classroom (Cawaco RC&D)
Northwest AL RC&D Help Sponsor the Ultimate Educational Field Trip (5-08)
Northwest AL RC&D Provides Grant For Hamilton High School Weather Station (6/08)
Northwest Alabama Counties Look for Ways to Control Litter (NW RC&D) 
On-Farm Energy Conservation
Raised Gardens Installed at the Bill Stewart Activity Center
RC&D Grant Helps Pay for New Outdoor Classroom in Calhoun County (3-07) 
Revitalizing School Nature Tail in Walker County
Russell County Students Gets Hands-on Experience (2-07)  
Trash and Recycle Show Schools in Marion and Winston Counties (PDF, 163 KB)
Used Cooking Oil—a Viable Option for Heating Poultry Houses
Watersheds in the Classroom (Cawaco RC&D) (.pdf, 72 KB)
Wiregrass RC&D Hosts 4th Annual Tri-State Farmer’s Forum (.pdf, 66 KB)
Your Town Workshops Offer Real Hope to Real Communities in Alabama (Cawaco RC&D) (.pdf, 158 KB)