Resource Conservation Districts

Two fish passage barriers removed on Pescadero Creek © San Mateo RCD
Fish passage at the Millville diversion dam © Western Shasta RCD
Green Valley Creek Off-Channel Winter Refugia Habitat Enhancement Project © Gold Ridge RCD

Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) are a leader in on-the-ground conservation efforts. RCDs are one of the primary links between local people and government on issues related to conservation. The 97 districts statewide (map of locations) are the center of locally led conservation in their communities and accomplish thousands of practical, hands-on conservation projects every year. Often these projects involve agriculture and private land, but they also accomplish much more.

Today, RCDs manage a diversity of resource conservation projects, including soil and water conservation projects, wildlife habitat enhancement and restoration (including creek restoration, streambank restoration, fish passage), control of exotic plant species, watershed restoration, conservation planning, education, and many others.

Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs), once known as Soil Conservation Districts, are “special districts” of the state of California, set up under California law to be locally governed agencies with their own locally appointed or elected, independent boards of directors. Although RCDs are established locally by the rules of a county’s Local Agency Formation Committee (LAFCO), and often have close ties to county government, they are not county government entities. Since most RCDs receive very little regular funding through local taxation, they rely heavily on grants and other types of fundraising to stay in operation. Learn more

Examples of RCD projects around the state:

  • San Mateo RCD: Butano Creek Floodplain Connectivity Project The project restored connectivity to over 100 acres of floodplain by installation of large woody debris and other restoration actions along a mile of Butano Creek. The project will holdback 150,000 tons of sediment before it gets to Pescadero Creek marsh and restore 10% of the historic floodplain of Butano Creek to store sediment before it gets to the marsh. Photos and video are on the project webpage and San Mateo RCD Facebook page.
  • Western Shasta RCD: Clover Creek/Millville Diversion Restoration The project provided fish passage past the Millville diversion dam to access upstream spawning and rearing habitat. Work included construction of two fish ladders, replacement of an inverted siphon, reinforcing the diversion dam, and gravel augmentation.
  • Mendocino County RCD: On-Farm Water Conservation Projects The project addresses critical low summer base flows in the Navarro River by implementing water conservation measures, water storage and water-use efficiency on orchards and small farms in the watershed.
  • Gold Ridge RCD: Green Valley Creek Off Channel Winter Refugia Habitat Enhancement Project The project involved the construction of a side channel and wetland complex that connects the floodplain at lower flows and provides winter rearing and high flow refugia habitat for juvenile salmonids.