Federal Conservation Programs
The natural resources conservation programs of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) help people reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damages caused by floods and other natural disasters. Public benefits include enhanced natural resources that help sustain agricultural productivity and environmental quality while supporting continued economic development, recreation, and scenic beauty.
Examples of the NRCS Cost-Share programs include:
- The Conservation Reserve Program/Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CRP/CREP) (http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/crp/ and http://www.va.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/CREPPracList.html) provides two conservation options for landowners: 1) rental payments for removing cropland from production and establishing and maintaining vegetative cover for a minimum 10-year period; and 2) funding for the establishment of buffers on land adjacent to water.
- The Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), which offers producers cost-share sponsorship for grazing land protection and cropland practices. Locally, applications have been received and funded for nutrient and residue management and cover crops.
- The Conservation Security Program (CSP) supports ongoing stewardship of private agricultural lands by providing payments for maintaining and enhancing natural resources. The program identifies and rewards those producers who are meeting the highest standards of conservation and environmental management on their operations.
The implementation of conservation practices also assists localities in working toward the nutrient and sediment reduction goals outlined in the Potomac and Rappahannock Tributary Strategy plans and the goals of the Chesapeake Bay 2000 Agreement.