agement programs for approximately 3,000 soil conservation districts covering virtually the entire United States. The NRCS also established hundreds of small watershed (<250,000 acres) programs as part of its PL 566 program, with the primary objectives of improving drainage and flood control.
Agriculturally oriented districts have a long history of federal involvement, although the assistance is more often technical than financial. Agricultural nonpoint pollution control programs rely primarily on financial incentives to encourage farmers to voluntarily adopt techniques that reduce nonpoint discharges. Thus, there is a strong tendency to expect the federal government to pay for watershed activities related to agriculture.
Another level of spatial aggregation is by region within a state. This approach is typified by the five water management districts created in 1972 within Florida (described more fully in Chapter 6). Two of the districts, South Florida and Southwest Florida, already existed as drainage and flood control districts established as operating arms of large U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects. Part of the St. Johns River Water Management District was also related to Corps of Engineers projects. The districts are funded by taxes, and each district sets its own tax rate. A comprehensive review of the water management districts was favorable (Water Management District Review Commission, 1995). For instance, the review notes that the Florida water management districts have moved aggressively into watershed management activities, especially the restoration of the Kissimmee River and the Everglades. These restoration projects are funded by a variety of sources, including the state, various counties, federal agencies such as the National Park Service and the Corps of Engineers, and taxes on agricultural operations in the Everglades Agricultural Area.
Other examples of regional approaches can be seen in the West. Kenney and Rieke (1997) surveyed western watershed management efforts to assess their evolution during the 1990s and found a wide variety of activities and financial strategies in use. For instance, the Verde Watershed Association in Arizona functions as an information dissemination organization, and it meets its modest financial needs by assessing annual dues on its members, including federal agencies. On a larger scale, the Animas River Stakeholder Group of the Upper Animas River (a tributary of the Colorado River) seeks to restore a viable brown trout fishery as its primary objective. The group receives most of its funds from EPA, in the form of Section 319 grants under the Clean Water Act, and from the Rocky Mountain Mine Waste Initiative. Other federal agencies have contributed resources such as in-kind services. A critical challenge for the Animas River group has been securing stable long-term financing for the planning process, in part because the effort lacks a statutory basis.
The Model Watershed Project of the Lemhi, Pahsimeroi, and East Fork of