USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

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Summary

The Natural Rescource Conservation Service (NRCS) aims to maintain a sustainable, nutritious, abundant food supply, while also promoting thriving ecosystems that support a diversity of life. In the next century, NRCS will not only continue to tackle familiar challenges like ensuring clean water and healthy soil, but will also rise to meet new issues, such as clean air, clean energy, climate change, and new technology. In California, NRCS is divided into four areas.

  • Area 1 Office: Red Bluff, CA
    • Area 1 covers the northern part of California, bordering on Oregon in the North and with Areas 2 and 3 in the south. It serves three Congressional Districts with 12 Service Centers, four Local Partnership Offices, four RRC&D Offices, and two Soil Survey Offices. These offices partner with 27 Resource Conservation Districts and others to meet the conservation needs of 17 counties.
  • Area 2 Offic: Salinas, CA
    • Area 2 extends along the coast from the counties on the north side of San Francisco down to Santa Barbara and inland to Stockton and Modesto, covering 15 counties. It serves 17 Congressional Districts using ten Service Centers, five Local Partnership Offices, and two Soil Survey Offices. These offices partner with 25 Resource Conservation Districts.


  • NRCS Leadership
    • The Chief provides overall leadership for the activities of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help people conserve, maintain, and improve our natural resources and environment. The Associate Chief works with the Chief in planning, coordinating, and directing the activities of NRCS, as well as coordinating the work of the divisions and staffs within the Office of the Chief. The offices that operate directly under the Office of the Chief include Strategic Natural Resource Issues, Legislative Affairs Division, Public Affairs Division, and Regional Conservationists.
    • The NRCS organization in its East, Central, and West regions is headed by a Regional Conservationist. Regional Conservationist are management representatives of the Chief and are responsible for providing overall direction of NRCS programs and activities consistent with the Chief's guidance; acting as representatives of the Chief at meetings; and supervising the State Conservationists and the Directors of the Pacific Basin and Caribbean Areas.
    • The Management Deputy area is responsible for the development of national policies and procedures, as well as overseeing the financial resources of the Agency. This deputy area provides leadership for management services and customer services, human resources, information technology, ethics programs, civil rights, budget planning and analysis. The Management Deputy Area is also responsible for assessing emerging legislation, policy, and operations issues, and continuity of operations, national centers services, outreach and advocacy, including social sciences and alternative dispute resolution. The offices that operate directly under the Management Deputy area include Civil Rights and Financial Management.
    • The Programs Deputy Area is responsible for financial assistance programs, easement programs and conservation technical assistance.
    • The Science and Technology (S&T) Deputy area leads NRCS efforts for science-based technology and technical tools concerning conservation engineering, practice standards, air quality (supporting the USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force), energy conservation, nutrient management technology, and other ecological issues. S&T also extends technical expertise to foreign governments. S&T manages the NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants Program and Plant Materials Program. S&T collaborates with the Soil Survey and Resource Assessment Deputy area to set NRCS research and technology development priorities. S&T partners with other Federal agencies, Tribal, state, and local governments, and academia seeking best-science technologies and technical tools for natural resources conservation.
    • The Soil Survey and Resource Assessment (SSRA) Deputy area is responsible for Divisions, Institutes and Centers related to soil science, soil survey and resource assessment, technical assistance to foreign governments, and international scientific and technical exchange. SSRA has technical leadership for the use of geospatial technologies (GIS, GPS, remote sensing) in NRCS and for establishing geospatial data standards for the agency. SSRA also conducts the National Resources Inventory (NRI) for assessment of natural resource conditions and trends in the United States. Drawing on the NRI and other data sources, SSRA leads the agency's resource analysis effort to support USDA in policy making for resource conservation. SSRA works in coordination with the NRCS Science and Technology deputy area to set research and technology development priorities for the agency. SSRA also has leadership for NRCS homeland security operations.
    • The Strategic Planning and Accountability Deputy area ensures accountability for performance and results through the integration of strategic planning, budget formulation, operations management, and oversight and evaluation. This includes: establishing and communicating agency direction in the agency strategic, performance and business plans; estimating and requesting resources required to accomplish goals and objectives; ensuring agency operations are efficient and effective; measuring and reporting on performance and customer satisfaction; and providing oversight and evaluation of agency operations.
  • A Brief History of NRCS
    • The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) draws on a long history of helping people help the land. For more than 75 years, NRCS and its predecessor agencies have worked in close partnerships with farmers and ranchers, local and state governments, and other federal agencies to maintain healthy and productive working landscapes. The NRCS history website seeks to tell the story of this work. Below, it links to publications on a broad array of topics, significant original documents, and galleries of photos that document soil and water conservation in the United States.
    • On April 27, 1935 Congress passed Public Law 74-46, in which it recognized that "the wastage of soil and moisture resources on farm, grazing, and forest lands . . . is a menace to the national welfare" and established the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) as a permanent agency in the USDA. In 1994, SCS’s name was changed to the Natural Resources Conservation Service to better reflect the broadened scope of the agency’s concerns. In doing so, Congress reaffirmed the federal commitment to the conservation of the nation's soil and water resources, first made 75 years ago, that continues to this day. To read more about the history of NRCS click here: A Brief History of NRCS
  • Organization
    • The Management Deputy area is responsible for the development of national policies and procedures, as well as overseeing the financial resources of the Agency. This deputy area provides leadership for management services and customer services, human resources, information technology, ethics programs, civil rights, budget planning and analysis.
    • The Programs Deputy Area is responsible for financial assistance programs, easement programs and conservation technical assistance
    • The Science and Technology (S&T) Deputy area leads NRCS efforts for science-based technology and technical tools concerning conservation engineering, practice standards, air quality (supporting the USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force), energy conservation, nutrient management technology, and other ecological issues. S&T also extends technical expertise to foreign governments. S&T manages the NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants Program and Plant Materials Program. S&T collaborates with the Soil Survey and Resource Assessment Deputy area to set NRCS research and technology development priorities. S&T partners with other Federal agencies, Tribal, state, and local governments, and academia seeking best-science technologies and technical tools for natural resources conservation.
    • The Soil Survey and Resource Assessment (SSRA) Deputy area is responsible for Divisions, Institutes and Centers related to soil science, soil survey and resource assessment, technical assistance to foreign governments, and international scientific and technical exchange. SSRA has technical leadership for the use of geospatial technologies (GIS, GPS, remote sensing) in NRCS and for establishing geospatial data standards for the agency.
    • The Strategic Planning and Accountability Deputy area ensures accountability for performance and results through the integration of strategic planning, budget formulation, operations management, and oversight and evaluation.
  • Accountability
    • The Strategic Planning and Accountability (SPA) Deputy Area supports the agency in strategically improving service delivery, planning for the future, promoting continuous performance improvement, and ensuring accountability.
  • The Strategic Planning and Accountability Deputy Area consists of three divisions:
    • Compliance Division - oversight for internal and external audits, appeals, and equitable relief.
    • Resource Economics, Analysis and Policy Division - analysis of agency programs regulations and policies for economic impacts, improving regulatory and policy processes, and compiling and disseminating official agency statistics
    • Strategic and Performance Planning Division - strategic plan and performance planning, continuous process improvement, identifying and reporting progress on planned goals and actions


  • Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative (CDSI)
    • NRCS initiated the Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative (CDSI) to implement a more effective, efficient, and sustainable business model for delivering conservation assistance across the Nation.
    • Benefits to the Nation's Farmers, Ranchers, and Taxpayers
    • Through reduced document handling, reduced decision and approval times, improved access to best-available information and technology, and staffing strategies that are aligned with streamlined processes, NRCS and USDA will benefit from a business model that will enable field technical staff to spend as much as 75% of their time in the field with clients, compared to the 20-40% now often reported.
    • For all of us, CDSI will result in science-based conservation that is applied in the most efficient way to improve our nation’s air, soil, water, wildlife, and energy use.
  • Improving how NRCS serves our customers will benefit our land and producers by:
    • Reducing the average number of trips that clients will have to make to an NRCS field office
    • Enabling NRCS and clients to finalize conservation planning and decision-making while in the field
    • Accelerating the timeline between applying for a program and having a signed contract
    • Accelerating the time between applying a practice and receiving payment for that practice
    • Offering clients 24/7/365 service for many tasks
  • Civil Rights
    • Vision:To be an inclusive diverse and equitable Agency that delivers programs in a manner based on and consistent with fairness availability and accountability.
    • Mission: To be an inclusive, diverse and equitable Agency that delivers programs in a manner based on and consistent with fairness, equality, availability and accountability while ensuring that applicants and employees are treated with respect, dignity and free from discrimination.
    • The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Civil Rights Division (CRD) places emphasis on Equal Opportunity for the Agency’s employees and program customers. CRD strives to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly some of the most vulnerable groups of society. Every employee, applicant, and customer must be treated fairly, equitably, and with dignity and respect.
    • CRD enforces federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital or family status, political beliefs, parental status, protected genetic information, or reprisal (retaliation) for prior EEO activity. Unlawful discrimination in any form will not be tolerated.
  • Office of Director
    • Provides overall leadership, coordination, and direction for the Agency's programs of civil rights, including program delivery compliance and equal employment opportunity.
    • Monitors and evaluates and updates policies, procedures, and programs related to civil rights, equal employment opportunity, and special emphasis.
    • Ensures that civil rights policy for the Agency is developed, implemented, and reviewed centrally.
    • Develops and monitors internal Agency training and provides leadership to ensure that appropriate training is delivered to Agency personnel in the area of civil rights.
    • Acts as the liaison with the Department, other Federal departments, agencies, divisions, and commissions both external and internal to NRCS - to exchange information and assure coordinated actions on civil rights matters.
    • Performs staff work for the Chief of NRCS and the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights on equal employment opportunity and civil rights matters, including affirmative employment program, equal employment opportunity evaluations, and development of EE/civil rights policies and procedures.
    • Coordinates support for the Agency's Civil Rights Advisory Committee.
    • Acts as the Agency's subject matter expert on the Cultural Transformation Committee.
    • Serves as an advisor to Onboarding Committee.

Disclaimer

This page may contain student work completed as part of assigned coursework. It may not be accurate. It does not necessary reflect the opinion or policy of CSUMB, its staff, or students.