Resource Conservation and Development Program

Resource Conservation and Development, better known as RC&D, is initiated and directed at the local level by representatives from communities, towns, units of government at all levels, and grassroots organizations.

The program provides a process for individuals, communities, and the many levels of government to cooperate in their efforts to seek out and solve problems for the benefit of everyone in the area. The key to success of RC&D is the combination of local leadership and a close working relationship with communities and government to cooperatively support and achieve local goals. The objective is to improve the natural resources and quality of life throughout rural America.

Traditionally, RC&D Councils target natural resources issues to work on. In recent years, however, the need for communities to balance use of natural resources with jobs and quality of life has resulted in new area strategies that focus on overall community sustainability. The RC&D Councils have broad authority to seek help from the best qualified sources to implement action measures. They obtain both financial and technical assistance from the private sector, corporations, foundations, and all levels of government.


The Resource Conservation and Development Program (RC&D) was initiated in 1962 to help people care for and protect their natural resources to improve an area’s economy, environment, and living standards. The program provides a way for local residents to work together and plan how they can actively solve environmental, economic, and social problems facing their communities. Today, the program continues to successfully deliver coordinated resource conservation and rural development assistance.


RC&D Program activities fit into four areas:

  • Land Conservation. Protects the resource base and finds the best ways to use it.
  • Community Development. Improves economic and community development in rural areas.
  • Water Management. Helps local people conserve, use and improve the quality and quantity of available water.
  • Land Management. Improves the environment through natural resource management.


The RC&D Council is the governing body consisting of representatives of all RC&D sponsors which directs the program at the local level. These Councils are nonprofit corporations, not a federal or state agency. They listen to and represent the views of citizens, set priorities, provide input for development of an area plan, and evaluate the effectiveness of results. The Council bases its activities on an assessment of the area’s problems and needs. The Council may be concerned with multiple resources issues such as land conservation, water conservation and management, community development, and fish and wildlife habitat protection.