RC&D was initially started back in the 1960’s to address rural poverty and help rural communities generate sustainable natural resource-based economies. Although today many RC&D Areas are not rural and are not poor, the need for the RC&D approach is just as strong as ever. RC&D continues to accelerate the conservation, development and utilization of natural resources, improve the general level of economic activity, and to enhance the environment and standard of living in designated RC&D areas. Current program objectives focus on improvement of quality of life achieved through natural resources conservation, human capacity development, and community development which leads to sustainable communities, prudent use (development) and the management and conservation of natural resources.
RC&D areas were locally-sponsored areas designated by the Secretary of Agriculture for RC&D technical and financial assistance program funds. Local leaders in these areas met to determine local needs and objectives and submitted an application to the Secretory of Agriculture. Once approve the local RC&D Council was formed and obtained a non-profit designation. Coosa Valley RC&D formed in November 1965 and was the first Alabama council. In January 1993, Gulf Coast RC&D became the final council in Alabama to be established.