Conservation

Federal Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a variety of conservation programs to assist private landowners with natural resource concerns. Originally, programs focused on reducing soil erosion. The number and scope of programs have increased through succesive farm bills and now reflect a broader conservation agenda.


Conservation Reserve Program

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) encourages farmers to convert highly erodible cropland and other environmentally sensitive land to vegetative cover including native grasses, trees, filter strips, habitat buffers or riparian buffers. CRP is administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). Visit the CRP program page


Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program

A variation of the CRP, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) helps farmers protect environmentally sensitive land, decrease erosion, restore wildlife habitat and safeguard ground and surface water. This program is also administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). Visit the CREP program page.                           

Conservation Security Program

The Conservation Security Program (CSP)  provides financial and technical assistance to support conservation efforts on tribal and private agricultural land. The program helps producers maintain existing conservation practices and encourages them to implement new practices that will provide additional levels of conservation benefits. CSP is administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Visit the CSP program page.


Environmental Quality Incentives Program

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical ssistance through contracts to help plan and implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land. Contracts address natural resource concerns and opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources. EQIP can help producers meet environmental regulations. EQIP is administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Visit the EQIP program page.


Grassland Reserve Program

The Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) provides landowners with assistance to protect, enhance and restore grasslands that may be converted to other uses. Participants voluntarily limit future development and cropping uses of the land but retain the right to conduct common grazing practices and operations related to the production of forage and seeding, subject to certain restrictions. A grazing management plan is required for participants. Landowners may receive compensation for permanent easements or enter into rental agreements. GRP is administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Visit the GRP program page.


Wetlands Reserve Program

The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) provides landowners with technical and financial assistance to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their property. Landowners can receive as much as 100 percent of the appraised agricultural market value of the property for permanent conservation easements or 75 percent for 30-year easements. They also can participate in a 10-year restoration cost-share agreements that pay for 75 percent of the cost of restoration activities and do not place an easement on the property. WRP is administered by USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).   Visit the WRP program page.                     

Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program

The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) provides cost-share and technical assistance to develop and improve habitat for fish and wildlife on private land, tribal land, or state and local government land. Landowners work with the NRCS to create wildlife habitat management plans that list the goals and practices needed to improve habitat. As part of their conservation plans, landowners agree to implement habitat practices and maintain the enrolled acreage for a period of five to 10 years. In exchange, the NRCS provides up to 75 percent in cost-share assistance to implement the plan. Fifteen-year agreements provide a higher level of cost-share assistance. WHIP is managed by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  Visit the WHIP program page.

State Programs

Many states offer technical assistance and cost share funds to apply conservation practices.  These programs may be administered by state departments of natural resources through soil and water conservation districts. A good place to start is your USDA service center. Staff will be aware of applicable state programs.

Contacts

To find out more about program eligibility and/or the application process, contact the appropriate federal agency, typically located in your local USDA service center, or your local soil and water conservation district.