Soil & Water Conservation Districts exist for these two critical resources. Nationwide, we seek to support best management practices for landowners via education, outreach, and technical assistance. Districts know that successful landscapes whether designed or wild; will only survive—and thrive—if plants are growing in adequate soil and receiving regular water whether it is for horticultural or agricultural purposes. We also know humans create large amounts of built landscape—roads, driveways, buildings, parking lots, etc. Lots of water sheds off of these surfaces and carries pollutants to stormdrains and ultimately our local lakes and streams. It is critical to address stormwater runoff to avoid erosion and potential contamination of nearby waterways. Each property can be considered a piece in the fabric of the larger landscape—all connected. Therefore, each landowner’s soil and water conservation efforts contribute to a cumulative collective impact in best management practices, conserving our land and water for generations to come.
Soil is an entire ecosystem beneath our feet! In the past, we have identified soil as a non-living player in the ecosystem---just a medium for the growth of land plants. We now know soil to be FULL of life. Did you know that there are more living things in one teaspoon of soil than there are people in the world? Soil is alive! In addition to sand, silt, and clay soil is made up of air, water, microbes, bacteria, earthworms, insects, fungi, nematodes, roots, burrowing animals, and more! Millions of species, and billions of organisms live beneath our feet; the highest concentration of biomass anywhere on the planet. We also want to keep soils where they are, because everytime we disturb it, soil particles and any pollutants attached to it can runoff into our water resources. We want to do everything we can to protect soil, to build soil, and keep soil intact and undisturbed. Our soils provide the foundation for our ecosystems (both inside your yard and across the whole state), so important to build and support healthy soils.
Water is critical for life. Here in Maine, we are fortunate to have an abundance of both fresh and saltwater alike contributing to drinking water, recreation, fisheries, agriculture and more. Whether you live on top of a mountain or on the coastal shoreline, you live in a watershed. 50% of all rainfall ends up as runoff traveling across surfaces and ending up in the nearest stream, river, lake, or ocean. That means what you do on your property can help—or hurt—the watershed you live in. Thus, every additional measure you take to infiltrate, divert or use rainfall on site will reduce potential nonpoint source pollution in your communities’ waterways.