County soil and water conservation districts are on the chopping block in the upcoming session of the Florida Legislature.
Senate Bill 1078 and House Bill 783 filed by Sen. Travis Hutson and Rep. Keith Truenow respectively propose to abolish the districts. The districts were established in the late 1940s and early 1950s to provide technical assistance to farmers. Some districts also actively advocate for water conservation and better land management. They also sponsor educational programs such as the annual soil judging contests and envirothons.
Affected locally would be the Hardee, Highlands, Peace River Polk and Sumter districts.
Under the proposed legislation, which has been referred to a number of committees in both chambers, any assets of the districts would be transferred to the water management districts if the Legislature approves the measures.
No staff report has been prepared yet to lay out the rationale for the proposed change, though in the past some have contended that the agencies’ original duties have largely been taken over by the water management districts and they may have outlived their original purpose.
Nevertheless, the districts, which are overseen by elected boards, have offered an opportunity for an entry for people interested in running for local elected offices.