Farmers and Ranchers Help Voluntary USDA Conservation Program
Reach 50M Acre Mark
BOISE- In the last four years, conservation-minded farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners in Idaho have enrolled over a half-million acres in USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), a program that helps landowners take conservation to the next level. The program is offered through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“The program is aimed at producers who are already established conservation stewards,” NRCS Acting State Conservationist Gene Schock said. “Idaho producers using this program are innovators in conservation, and they’re making great contributions to our rural communities.”
“The Conservation Stewardship Program allows our conservation-minded farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to go that extra mile in conserving natural resources,” said Schock.
“Conservation work aided by the program benefits working agriculture lands, including improved water and soil quality and enhanced wildlife habitat.”
From improving soil health to sending cleaner water downstream, this program is improving the environment, including the landscape here in Idaho.
Mark Olson, NRCS District Conservationist in Salmon, Idaho, says it’s a good program. “We look at a landowner’s existing level of conservation and suggest practices that can take them up to the next level.”
“Landowners in the Salmon area have good conservation practices and this program rewards what they are doing,” said Olson. “They can increase conservation benefits and annual payments by incorporating certain practices. It’s a different way to get conservation on the ground.”
One practice Olson has worked with landowners on is split nutrient applications. Nutrients are applied in the spring and summer instead of just the spring. This can affect water quality downstream in case there is any nutrient runoff.
Other practices used in the area include rotating salt and mineral placement on grazing lands, removing fish barriers, fencing off riparian areas, and harvesting hay in a manner that lets animals escape.
If you are ready to do more conservation on your land, look into the Conservation Stewardship Program at your local NRCS office or go online for more information. A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help you determine if CSP is suitable for your operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types. It is available from local NRCS offices and on the CSP website: http://go.usa.gov/g9dx.
NRCS offices accept CSP applications year round and evaluate applications during announced ranking periods.
Nationally, more than 50 million acres (78,000 square miles), is enrolled in CSP, an area larger than Nebraska. It is one of the top federal programs for private lands offered by USDA. This year, nearly 12.2 million acres across the U.S. were added to the program’s rolls.
Learn more about CSP and other NRCS programs here: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs.