The Peter Francisco Soil and Water Conservation District (Peter Francisco SWCD) is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia and is responsible under State Law for soil and water conservation work within the boundaries of Buckingham and Cumberland Counties.   The District’s purpose is to encourage and initiate land use practices that help improve water quality and reduce soil erosion as well as educating the community in protecting our natural resources.


Peter Francisco SWCD was originally organized in July 24, 1940 as Robert E. Lee SWCD and was made up of the counties of Amherst, Appomattox, Campbell, Buckingham and Cumberland.  During a time of reorganization, Buckingham and Cumberland Counties separated to form the Peter Francisco SWCD in December 1972 and became active on January 1, 1973.   The District covers an area of 873 square miles and is located in the Southern Piedmont Region of Virginia.  It is bounded on the North by the James River and bounded on the South by the Appomattox River. Within the District, there are over 17 watershed dams that were built for flood control that affect the Slate and Willis Rivers and are a part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.   The District is a rural, agricultural district with the majority of the area in woodland and small farms.  The main industries are timber, cattle and poultry.


The Commonwealth of Virginia supports the District through financial and administrative assistance provided by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) as well as the District utilizing local and some federal funds.   The Board of Directors is the governing body of the District, consisting of six members:  Four Directors, two from each county, elected every four years in the general election; one is appointed by the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Board and one is appointed as a representative of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service within the District.      


Soil and Water Conservation Districts focus on many issues and programs including:


  • Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMP) Cost-Share Assistance Program

  • Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Cost-share Programs through the 319 Environmental Protection Act (EPA) Grant

  • Erosion & Sediment (E&S) Control Program

  • USDA Farm Bill

  • Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act

  • Virginia’s Agricultural Stewardship Act

  • Environmental & Agriculture Education (Youth & Adult)

  • Agriculture Rental Equipment Program

  • Maintenance and Inspection of 17 Watershed Dams

  • Issues focused on:

    • Water quality

    • Soil erosion, run off

    • Prevention of flood water and sediment damage

    • Preservation of wildlife


Peter Francisco SWCD’s partnering agencies:



GOAL 1  – Expand the Outreach and Communication about the District’s Mission to the General Public and Ag Community


Objective 1:

Develop a means of promoting education opportunities to small start-up farmers and the residential population about environmental conservation, urban and/or agricultural issues.


  • Strategy 1 – Monitor and keep the website up-to-date with available programs

  • Strategy 2 – Maintain a presence at key community events such as: county days, fairs, special community organization events.

  • Strategy 3 – Create a media campaign to encourage public pride for conservation efforts. Continue to offer the District’s spring awards banquet.

  • Strategy 4 – Create mobile device friendly apps.

  • Strategy 5 – Create a brochure to distribute to the general public through business and government (government offices, realtors, local feed stores)

  • Strategy 6 – Develop a listserv of email recipients for regular updates.

  • Strategy 7 – Routinely provide a newsletter to inform and promote programs.

  • Strategy 8 – Develop “take home” materials from school programs to reach parents/others.

  • Strategy 9 – Promote programs such as:  Rain Barrel workshops, Backyard Conservation practices, Master Gardener Program and other conservation programs.

  • Strategy 10 – Assist area community clubs, groups and organizations with conservation programs.

  • Strategy 6 – Create for the District a face book page and twitter account to reach out to a more social media audience.



Objective 2:

Promote the District’s conservation education expertise and programs to realtors, localities, and local planning departments, partners and local cooperating agencies.


  • Strategy 1 – Provide local Boards of Supervisors with monthly minutes, a newsletter, and annual report of the District’s activities.

  • Strategy 2 – Be available to localities and local planning commissions as a resource for conservation planning and decision making.

  • Strategy 3 – Update the localities bi-annually a year by attending Board of Supervisors meetings to report conservation progress.

  • Strategy 4 –Keep Agencies and Partners updated on District activities and offer support of partner goals.

  • Strategy 5 – Have links on web page to local government, partnering agencies and organizations.  Have county governments link to the District.

  • Strategy 6 – Advise local government and the general public with land use issues through education to local planning commissions.


GOAL 2 – Offer All Children within the District a Meaningful Conservation Education Experience


Objective 1:

Create and hire a full-time outreach and education position within the next 5 years.


  • Strategy 1 – Create a statement and purpose for Conservation Advancement and Resource Education (C.A.R.E.)

  • Strategy 2 – Create afterschool programs with FFA, 4-H, High School and Middle School students.

  • Strategy 3 – Advertise programs to accommodate language barriers.

  • Strategy 4 – Provide once a week and/or monthly hands on projects with youths.

  • Strategy 5 – Search and apply for grants to support educational programs. Seek funding through counties.

  • Strategy 6 – Advertise educational programs through local media, newsletter, face book and website. 

  • Strategy 7 – Submit follow-up articles to local newspapers, and website.



Objective 2:

Improve conservation educational opportunities for youth through social media, school or the public.


  • Strategy 1 – Develop a packet of educational programs to be distributed at the beginning of each school year to public and private educators. Have available on website.

  • Strategy 2 – Create an evaluation form to gauge and monitor the results of a program’s effectiveness.

  • Strategy 3 – Provide scholarships to promote continuing education in the field of natural resources, biology or agriculture.

  • Strategy 4 – Promote Envirothon, Environmental Day Camp, Youth Conservation Camp, Forestry Camp and classroom programs.

  • Strategy 5 – Create afterschool programs with FFA, 4-H, High School and Middle School students.

  • Strategy 6 – Advertise programs to accommodate language barriers.

  • Strategy 7 – Provide once a week and/or monthly hands on projects with youths.

  • Strategy 8 – Search and apply for grants to support educational programs. Seek funding through counties.

  • Strategy 9 – Advertise educational programs through local media, face book and website. 

  • Strategy 10 – Submit follow-up articles to local newspapers, and website.





GOAL 3 – Increase Adult Conservation Education Efforts


     Objective 1:

Improve conservation educational opportunities for adults through social media, speaking

engagements, or clubs.


  • Strategy 1 – Offer lawn & garden, septic and stream water testing workshops throughout the year.

  • Strategy 2 – Create videos of conservation programs

  • Strategy 3 – Be available at local farmers markets to publicize the District’s mission.

  • Strategy 4 – Host an annual fall dinner meeting to promote on-going programs to include cooperating agencies.

    • Invite Guest speakers from other organizations to talk i.e.: Master Gardeners, Garden Club, VCE

    • Piggy Back with another agency

  • Strategy 5 – Host an annual spring dinner meeting to recognize outstanding educators and agricultural participants with an annual Conservation Award Program to also include DCR’s Clean Water Farm Award Program.

    • Advertise with local FFA Alumni groups

    • Offer Discount offers through local businesses

  • Strategy 6 – Provide farm tours and field days as ways of promoting conservation programs – programs in action.

  • Strategy 7 – Assist localities with implementation of Erosion & Sediment control programs. 

  • Strategy 8 – Provide input to each County’s Comprehensive Plan relating to conservation issues.

  • Strategy 8 – Advise and educate local government and the general public with land use issues.



GOAL 4 – Strive to Obtain Additional Funding through Current and New Sources


      Objective 1:

          Maintain and obtain additional funding for the District’s Operations, staff, education and



  • Strategy 1 – Continue the open line of communication with the localities and keep them informed of the District’s progress

  • Strategy 2 – Directors and staff will strengthen legislative involvement with the District.

  • Strategy 3 – Search and apply for local, state and federal grants to support education programs.

  • Strategy 4 – Form a friends of Soil and Water Conservation stakeholders group

  • Strategy 5 – Conduct an economic analysis to show justification for need(s).

  • Strategy 6 – Coordinate with each school division to find funding to assist in supporting the conservation education specialist position.

  • Strategy 7 – Consider the need to implement a fee for E&S services per county.  The county would need to charge the applicant during permit application.



Objective 2:

    Develop a plan to obtain additional funding for agriculture and residential cost-share


  • Strategy 1 – Inform state and local officials of the backlog of agriculture practices not funded.

  • Strategy 2 – Evaluate the staff time invested into plan development and the financial impact.

  • Strategy 3 – Search and apply for local, state and federal grants to support residential practices, such as:  septic pump-outs, septic repairs, and replacements.

  • Strategy 4 – Search and apply for local, state, and federal grants to compliment the Best Management Practice (BMP) agriculture programs.



GOAL 5 – Reduce Non-point Source Pollution and Improve Water Quality


Objective 1:

Provide conservation and technical assistance to area producers for the improvement of water quality and land management.


  • Strategy 1 – Assist landowners on technical assistance and the implementation of the cost-share program for best management practices.

  • Strategy 2 – Assist producers in developing conservation plans for their operations.

  • Strategy 3 – TMDL staff will assist landowners and residents with the implementation of the cost-share program for the TMDL Implementation projects for impaired waterways.

  • Strategy 4 – Work with landowners and producers efficiently utilizing the resources from partnering agencies such as:  NRCS, FSA, DOF, VCE, and VDGIF, Bear Creek Lake State Park, James River State Park, and the BCA, etc.

  • Strategy 5 -- Provide producers an opportunity to improve soil quality through rental of District conservation equipment. 

    • District staff will educate producers on equipment care and proper handling. 

    • The District will maintain current equipment. 

    • As producers’ needs expand for other equipment usage, the staff will make recommendations to the Board for future equipment purchases.





Goal 6 – Operate and Maintain 17 Flood Control Dams in Compliance with the

                Dam Safety Act.


Objective 1:

Annual inspections, maintenance and record keeping of dams conducted in a timely



  • Strategy 1 – Keep Emergency Action Plans Current

  • Strategy 2 – Coordinate with the DCR Dam Safety Engineer and the DCR Safety Regional Engineer on inspections as required by dam safety regulations and operation and maintenance certificates.

  • Strategy 3 – Coordinate with NRCS annual inspections.

  • Strategy 4 – Inform landowners of upcoming maintenance and site inspections.

  • Strategy 5 – Develop technical assistance guidance upon the expiration of NRCS and SWCD Operation and Maintenance Agreements.


Objective 2:

Dams are maintained and meet hazard classification Emergency Action Plans (EAP) exercise requirements through effective communication between partners.


  • Strategy 1 - Provide inspection reports, EAP updates, dam inundation studies and maintenance needs to Buckingham and Cumberland Counties.

  • Strategy 2 – Encourage localities to use information from dam inundation studies as part of their comprehensive plan.

  • Strategy 3 – Routinely work with localities Emergency Services Coordinators to generate an Emergency Action Plan exercise for emergency action responses.


Objective 3:

District will strive to educate landowners, realtors and developers on the purpose of the

existence of the watershed dam structures and the maintenance responsibilities the

District has.


  • Strategy 1 – Sound land use practices are implemented to protect water quality of lake and downstream watershed.

  • Strategy 2 – Develop publications and fact sheets to distribute to new landowners      









The Strategic Planning Process


The Strategic Plan is a document that will enable the District to incorporate anticipated changes that may affect our natural resources for the future.  The District compiled results from a Stakeholders Survey sent out to landowners, business owners, government officials and educators in Buckingham and Cumberland Counties.  The information from the survey was compiled and relayed during a presentation for stakeholders on October 25, 2016.  The group was facilitated by J. Michael Foreman, Director, Office of Environmental Education, Division of Operations, Department of Conservation and Recreation.  The half day work session allowed the group to review discuss and compile the needs of the District.  The Peter Francisco SWCD’s Board gave the final approval of the plan. The planning committees have recognized future priority issues, set goals and strategies, and identified steps needed to accomplish the goals within the next five years.    The District’s Strategic Planning Committee will track this plan on a quarterly basis.  District Staff will refer to stakeholder survey notes and use it as a tool to update and develop on-going plans for further growth within the District.

The strategic planning process involves not only the staff and directors within the organization, but guidance from local, state and federal agencies and citizens from Buckingham and Cumberland Counties.



M. Todd Smith, Chairman (Cumberland)

Ruth Wallace

Terry Seal, Vice-Chairman (Cumberland)

Vertie Mae Jamerson

James McDaniel, Jr. Treasurer (Buckingham)

Amber Anderson

Kevin Dunn (Buckingham)

Linda Eanes

Barbara Teeple (Buckingham – Appointed)


Jennifer Ligon, Extension Agent Appointed





Sherry Ragland, District Manager

Kelly Snoddy, Conservation Specialist

Emily Gibbs, TMDL Conservation Specialist

Elise Corbin, Conservation Education Coordinator



The District office is housed in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Service Center, Sprouses Corner located at 16842 W. James Anderson Highway, Buckingham Virginia.  Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.  The District phone number is (434) 983-7929.  Monthly District meetings are held on the 3rd Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. at the USDA Service Center Conference Room.



“The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all of its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, political beliefs, genetic information, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).”


“To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.”