The Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District provides conservation programming to all residents of Jefferson County, Kentucky. In some cases, we partner with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Services to provide assistance. 

Agricultural Districts

Assigning agricultural districts is a preservation program that protects farms from annexation and development. Landowners or groups of landowners who have 250 contiguous acres may apply for the formation of an agricultural district through the District office. Agricultural Districts must be applied for every 5 years. 

Art & Writing Contest

A statewide competition supported by the KY Association of Conservation Districts (KACD) to encourage students to learn about natural resource concerns by submitting a piece of art or writing. Topics rotate annually between trees, soil, water and wildlife.

The contest is open to all local public, private, and parochial schools, as well as homeschoolers. County winners go on to compete at a state level. Awards Sponsored by the Ky Farm Bureau and DOC.

Burn Permits 

Applications for open agricultural burning are available through our office. Only individuals who are actively farming need to apply.

Cover Crop Giveaway

The Conservation District provides free cover crop seeds to be planted in high tunnels and community gardens. The Conservation District also hosts workshops and training to educate on the importance of cover crops in order to cultivate healthy soil.

Between July 2019 – June 2020, the District distributed 7 acres of cover crop seed to 15 community gardens and 10 urban high tunnel growers.

Continuous Conservation Reserves Program (CCRP)

The Continuous Conservation Reserves Program allows landowners to enroll eligible acres into a 10 to 15 year program to help address water quality concerns. The incentives for this program include: annual rental payments, bonuses, maintenance fees and cost-share for conservation practices.

Deer Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)

The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program for people who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat primarily on private land. Through WHIP, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service provides both technical assistance and up to 75 percent cost-share assistance to establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat. WHIP agreements between USDA-NRCS and the participant generally last from 5 to 10 years from the date the agreement is signed.

Environmental Education

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

The EQIP program provides technical, financial and educational assistance to landowners. The target audience for this program is primarily livestock producers who have natural resource concerns that can be addressed through the implementation of soil and water management practices.

The state funded cost-share program offers landowners an opportunity for assistance with soil erosion and water quality problems. More than 20 best management practices are eligible for cost-share at a rate of 50 percent and above.

(The Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) through USDA-NRCS has funded projects in Jefferson County for the past five years totaling $505,296 in grant funding. Technical assistance included in the funding level raises the value to over three quarter million dollars.)


A statewide competition in which students are trained in the ways that real life environmental problems are solved with the support of natural resource professionals.

Jefferson County does not currently have an Envirothon team, although we would like to form one, as identified in our long range plan. 

Equipment / Infrastructure Loans

Equipment and infrastructure loans are provided to landowners who qualify. These loans have a 1% interest rate for the purchase of heavy equipment used in conservation or infrastructure improvements. See the District office for more information. 

Field Day

Save the Date: May 22nd, 2021 @ the Logan Street Basin!

Several organizations local to Jefferson County have started working together to organize a Backyard Conservation Field Day. Organizations spearheading this effort include the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District, Kentucky Waterways Alliance, and Louisville MSD. 

The purpose of this event is to provide an opportunity for Jefferson County landowners, homeowners, and renters, to gather and gain relevant and practical knowledge specific to Jefferson County’s natural resources, which includes our water, soil, plants, and wildlife. This will occur specifically through demonstrations and hands-on learning led by local experts. It is our vision that participants will be empowered to apply what they learned at home, leading to an expanded community engagement in repairing our landscape and mitigating the effects of climate change. 

Furthermore, we intend to create a space to discuss the connection between degradation of our natural resources and systemic racial inequality, emphasizing that moving the needle must include correction for environmental injustice. We aspire for this event to be the first of many field days to come. 

Invasive Species Removal

The Louisville Urban Invasive Species Removal Program seeks to remove invasive species in a predefined area within Jefferson County. If you live within this area, you can submit an application to receive money to remove invasive species on your property. The Invasive Species Removal Program is made possible through earmarked EQIP funds through the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). 

Kentucky State Cost-Share Program

The Kentucky Soil Erosion and Water Quality Cost Share Program and the Kentucky Soil Stewardship Program were created to help agricultural operations protect the soil and water resources of Kentucky and to implement their agriculture water quality plans. The program helps landowners address existing soil erosion, water quality and other environmental problems associated with their farming or woodland operation.

Louisville Regional Science &  Engineering Fair

The Conservation District participates in yearly judging of the annual science and engineering fair held in Louisville; focusing on categories specific to environmental science, natural resources, agriculture, etc. The Conservation District selects three winners and provides each with a certificate and monetary award. Students in grades 6-12 from 52 Kentucky counties may enter.

Master Conservationist Award

The Master Conservationist Award is the highest recognition award presented to a landowner by a local Conservation District for individual land stewardship efforts. Less than two percent of private landowners or farmers are recognized as Master Conservationists. To qualify for this award, the landowner must have completed over ninety percent of their soil and water conservation plan for the land under their control. In doing so, almost all, if not all their land-based natural resources are protected from serious degradation and are managed for sustainability. Their conservation practices and management techniques are those to be modeled and are often emulated by others seeking to achieve similar levels of success.

Pollinator Seed Giveaway

The Conservation District provides free local and native pollinator seed to County residents at outreach events. This is an effort to increase the native plant diversity in the County; specifically for the benefit of pollinators.

Between July 2019 – June 2020, the District distributed 200 packets of local, native pollinator garden seeds.

Rain Barrel Workshops

The Conservation District organizes, promotes, and hosts rain barrel workshops for County residents and provides a rain barrel(s) and diverter kits to workshop participants at a reduced rate. Rain barrel workshops are held in different areas of the County to provide residents with access to a rain barrel(s) at a reduced cost and education on how to install a rain barrel. Each workshop includes education on water quality issues related to stormwater with a focus on Jefferson County water resources.

Soil Erosion and Water Quality Cost Share Program

The Kentucky Soil Erosion and Water Quality Cost Share Program and the Kentucky Soil Stewardship Program were created to help agricultural operations protect the soil and water resources of Kentucky and to implement their agriculture water quality plans. The program helps landowners address existing soil erosion, water quality and other environmental problems associated with their farming or woodland operation.

The program is funded by the state General Assembly and Tobacco Settlement Funds. It provides 75% cost share for soil erosion practices. Funding is provided annually and applicants can apply any time throughout the year at the District Office. Applications are approved by DOC according to conservation need ranking criteria. Technical standards and assistance provided by NRCS.

Soil Testing Vouchers

The Conservation District provides vouchers for up to two soil tests a year to interested County residents. Residents are instructed on how to take a soil sample which is then analyzed through the Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service (CES). The Conservation District also provides residents with up to one free lead contamination voucher per year. 

Between July 2019 – June 2020, the District distributed 1,048 soil nutrient vouchers and 174 soil contaminate vouchers to Jefferson County residents.

Technical Assistance

The Conservation District provides direct assistance for all programs, initiatives, and issues involving identified resource concerns in order to assist residents with the implementation of conservation practices on the land they operate. Additionally, the Conservation District also assists with other activities to support the County.

Tree Seedling Giveaway

The Conservation District coordinates with teachers in the county to distribute tree saplings to their students to be planted. The District distributes nearly 2,000 native tree seedlings every year. The students of Seneca High School’s FFA program help package trees. 

Urban Agriculture Coalition (UAC)

The Urban Agriculture Coalition brings together agriculture and ecology focused individuals and groups in Jefferson County to create an equitable and resilient food system in Louisville by supporting and expanding home and community based food production and distribution, providing agricultural education and resources, and restoring the relationships between our gardens and their communities and ecosystems.

The Conservation District coordinates the coalition. This includes activities to expand the work of the Coalition as well as community awareness; monthly gatherings, advocacy, program creation, events for residents, etc.

Urban High Tunnel Initiative

The Natural Resources Conservation Service-Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides cost-share funding to support farmers who want to extend their growing season and increase crop productivity with the installation of a high tunnel. In partnership with NRCS, the Conservation District provides additional grant funding to cost-share recipients within the Louisville Metro Area to further reduce the cost of a high tunnel and provide supplies for crop irrigation. The Conservation District also provides technical assistance for high tunnel installation, operation, and maintenance.

Urban Homesteading Workshop

The Conservation District partners with the Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service  (CES) to provide an introduction to a lifestyle of self-sufficiency in home-grown food production and preservation of food for people living in an urban environment. Participants are instructed on a variety of topics in relation to starting a garden, pest management, soil health, water conservation, raising chickens, food preservation, etc. The workshop is 10 months, meeting twice a month.