The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is a sister organization to Conservation Districts. Originally started as a response to the Dust Bowl era, NRCS relied on guidance from a locally-elected Board of Directors (volunteers) to focus efforts in soil conservation. Today, NRCS, together with the Conservation District, provides technical expertise to farmers and private landowners. NRCS also provides financial assistance for conservation projects through the Federal Food Securities Act of 2018 (Farm Bill). Further details are outlined in the programs below.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
This program provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and private landowners in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation or improved or created wildlife habitat. Common projects funded through this program in Mason and Lake counties include agrichemical handling facilities, brush management/removal, cover crop rotation, Forest Management Plans, grassed waterways, manure management and storage, secondary fuel containment, streambank stabilization, tree and shrub planting, wildlife habitat improvement.
Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
This five-year program financially rewards agricultural producers and private landowners for maintaining their high level of stewardship. The program also helps improve their existing conservation actions by requiring additional conservation activities to address priority resources concerns. Participants earn CSP payments for conservation performance—the higher the performance, the higher the payment. Farms and forest owners that can demonstrate long-term stewardship activities are usually those that qualify for the program in Mason and Lake counties.
Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)
ACEP provides financial and technical assistance to help conserve agricultural lands and wetlands and their related benefits through easements. There are various time-length options and eligilibility requirements. Please refer to the ACEP link for more information.
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
CRP is a land conservation program administered by Farm Services Agency. In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are 10-15 years in length. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife and pollinator habitat.
For more information please visit the NRCS website.