The existing literature has recognized the role and importance of social capital in natural resource management. Several studies provide empirical evidence that higher levels of social capital may positively affect individuals' behavior towards natural resources management. This study is therefore an attempt to investigate the environmental quality impacts of social capital and central government expenditures on environmental protection, taking spatial dimension into account from 2009 to 2017 for Turkey. A general-to-specific approach has been adopted where spatial variations in the relationships have been examined with a dynamic spatial Durbin model, using the panel data at NUTS3 level. The empirical results do not support the validity of an environmental Kuznets curve, rather a U-shaped environmental Kuznets curve is validated, which exhibits spatial dependence. Estimation results show that industrial production has detrimental effects on the environment, while social capital improves it. The central government expenditures on environmental protection are effective in the abatement of pollution, and its effectiveness is enhanced when social capital is controlled. In addition to spatial spillover effects, our results show the presence of strong path dependency; that is, there is certain pollution inertia. Moreover, environmental protection policies would be more effective if social capital levels are improved.