PARKERSBURG - The Little Kanawha Resource Conservation and Development Council is joining in the national celebration to promote and highlight the program in West Virginia.
The Resource Conservation & Development program was established Sept. 27, 1962, under President John F. Kennedy with leadership by Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman to help conserve natural resources and to enhance the social and economic well-being of rural communities through volunteer councils.
Councils, assisted by more than 20,000 volunteers, serve 180 million people in 2,693 counties in all 50 states, the Caribbean and the Pacific Basin.
Fifty years later, councils continue to provide a focal point for local leadership and community engagement and bring together citizens, grassroots organizations, and local, state and federal agencies on projects to benefit rural America. Secretary Vilsack encourages all Americans to recognize this historic anniversary and to honor RC&D Councils and their work.
The Little Kanawha council was authorized for funding in October 1966, was the first area in West Virginia and the 13th in the nation.
The Little Kanawha area was approved through the USDA's Soil Conservation Service and included Calhoun, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt and Wood Counties. The area was expanded in 1974 to include Jackson, Pleasants and Tyler counties and in 1990 was again expanded to include Wetzel County, bringing it to its present geographic boundaries to include nine counties.
Each county within the Little Kanawha boundary has benefited from the services of the council and has been assisted by its partnering agencies. Objectives of the Little Kanawha include: improve the area's economy; improve and establish historic, recreation, and community resources; improve and protect the natural resource base; and to keep the public information about the project's efforts. Focuses are on land conservation, water management, community development and land management.
During its first 25 years, the Little Kanawha RC&D, through cooperative efforts of many individuals, government agencies and elected officials, accomplished over 350 individual project measures. "RC&D is focused on seeing that projects are completed," said council coordinator D.J. Allen.
Funding is made available through the state conservation agency and is vital in assisting other agencies and organizations to improve West Virginia, said council Chairman Carroll Cumberledge.
"Through the years, over 900 grants have been awarded to assist with projects associated with land conservation, water and land management, and community development, " Cumberledge said.
Six years ago, the council created Project Sharing to assist organization serving the underserved in the nine counties. Volunteers assist with operation of this program.
"This has been a tremendous asset to the RC&D, and provides an excellent service as we assist those who assist others," Allen. said.
The Revolving Loan Program provides low-interest rate loans for resource-based businesses.
The council reorganized following federal budget cuts.