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Conservation Planning The Landowner Making a Plan

Conservation Planning With You: The Landowner Making a Plan

The Decisions Are Up to You!

  • You make the decisions. The NRCS planner will give you many good alternatives and make some economic comparisons. However, you decide how, what, and when. It's your plan!
  • Decisions are needed on both the uses of the land and its treatment. When you make a decision on land use, you will need to consider how to treat each field to get the desired results. These treatments are known as conservation practices. Several practices may be used in combination to solve resource problems, and collectively are called a resource management system.

The NRCS planner can help you understand how the conservation practices fit together in a resource management system, and what is necessary to provide the maintenance for continued effectiveness in the future.

The planner will record your decisions and will help in scheduling and applying planned conservation practices.

The plan can be a guide for you for several years, and can be modified as your goals and objectives change.

Applying the Conservation Practices

Once planning decisions have been made, additional NRCS technical assistance to assist you in implementing the planned conservation practices can include engineering designs, operation and maintenance agreements, and standards and specifications. Federal, state and local permits are the responsibility of the client, though NRCS can assist with certain information to support the permit applications.

Keeping Your Plan Current

Your written conservation plan provides you with a ready reference guide for your year-to-year operations. Economics or other circumstances may change, and prevent you from following your conservation plan. NRCS conservationists can help you revise the plan when needed.

In Conservation Planning:

  • The process is voluntary and flexible.
  • You make the decisions and carry them out, including maintenance.
  • It is your plan for the land you own or use.
  • NRCS is ready to help you.

Conservation Planning

As a landowner you can benefit from NRCS conservation planning in several ways. Receiving technical assistance instills confidence in the design, implementation, and monitoring of a plan that is right for you and your land. The productivity of agricultural land may be increased due to practices that help to conserve soil, increase rangeland health, improve water quality, and manage livestock waste.

In addition, conservation plans can be developed to improve habitat for fisheries, upland game birds, and other wildlife.

Healthy and productive lands also have the intangible benefits of open space and scenic views. Ultimately, everyone who eats food or drinks water benefits from your conservation efforts.

The success of conservation planning depends on you, the landuser, being involved in every phase of the process. The decisions made are your decisions! Technically trained NRCS planners will help you reach informed decisions about soil, water, air, plants, and animal resources while considering human, social and economic concerns.

What is a Conservation Plan?

A conservation plan is a customized document that outlines the use and best management practices of the natural resources on public or private lands. The plan defines and explains the resources in a simple, easy to understand manner. Typically, the plan will include land use maps, soils information, inventory of resources, engineering notes, and other supporting information. You, the landuser, make all the decisions, but do not have to tackle resource problems alone.

Farm Viability

A conservation plan can result in more viable and productive land, earning you a higher income.

Farm plans help to keep farmers farming!

Who Needs a Conservation Plan?

Farmers and landusers on public or private land that want to achieve a healthy working landscape; landusers that participate in one of NRCS's many programs must have a plan or be developing one, before or during enrollment.

However, you do not need to be enrolled in NRCS programs to obtain a conservation plan.

Consider Why You May Need a Conservation Plan

NRCS can help you develop a conservation plan one step at a time, while looking at the whole parcel of land. There is no cost to you.

  • Would you like the opportunity to enhance the natural resources on your land?

  • Do you have muddy runoff, carrying precious soil nutrients and water away?

  • Is your barnyard full of mud and manure?

  • Are your gullies growing and hard to cross?

  • Do you see sediment accumulations at the lower part of your land or field?

  • Do you have excess woody vegetation on your land?

  • Is your property providing wildlife habitat?

  • Is your livestock creating an environmental problem in the watershed?

  • Do you need more and more fertilizer and water to sustain yields?

  • Are there invasive species where native species and productive pastureland once thrived?

  • Do you need to comply with certain regulations

Making a Plan

When you are ready to start a conservation plan, a NRCS planner will meet with you to discuss your goals, plans, resource problems, the soils, and the NRCS's conservation programs. The planner will ask which crops you want to grow, the livestock you want to keep, the wildlife or recreation uses you want to plan, and any other interests you have that will affect the land. The planner will help you consider the effects a planned practice may have on a neighboring farm or parcel of land.

The Planning Process

Step 1 - Identify Problems and Opportunities
  • Landowners work with NRCS to identify natural resource problems, opportunities, and concerns on their farm or ranch.
Step 2 - Determine Objectives
  • A landowner's environmental and economic objectives for the farm or ranch are a critical part of any conservation plan.
Step 3 - Inventory Resources
  • NRCS will inventory the natural resources and their condition. The landowner's knowledge of current and historical land use is a valuable tool.
Step 4 - Analyze Resource Data
  • NRCS will analyze the resource information gathered in Step 3 to clearly define the natural resource conditions.
Step 5 - Formulate Alternatives
  • NRCS will suggest alternatives that will achieve the landowner's objectives, solve natural resource problems, and take advantage of opportunities to improve and protect resource conditions.
Step 6 - Evaluate Alternatives
  • The landowner, with help from NRCS, will evaluate the alternatives to determine their effects in addressing the objectives and the natural resource problems and opportunities.
Step 7 - Make Decisions
  • The landowner selects the alternative(s) that best suite the needs of the resources, working with NRCS to schedule conservation system and practice implementation.
Step 8 - Implement the plan
  • The landowner implements the alternatives he or she selected.
Step 9 - Evaluate the Plan
  • The landowner will work with NRCS to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan as it is implemented and makes adjustments as needed.

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California Conservation Planning With You: The Landowner Making a Plan - Brochure (PDF; 1.4 MB)