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Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) - Illinois

2016 Conservation Stewardship Program Signup - Application Cutoff March 31, 2016

Applications for 2016 CSP can now be submitted at your local field office. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis; however applications submitted by March 31, 2016 will be considered for 2016 funding.

Participants with existing 2012 CSP contracts that will expire this year have the option to renew their contracts for an additional five years if they agree to adopt additional activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands. Renewal applications to renew are also due by March 31, 2016.

Program Overview
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a voluntary conservation program that encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by:

  • Undertaking additional conservation activities; and
  • Improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities.

Through CSP, NRCS will provide financial and technical assistance to eligible producers to conserve and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, Non-Industrial Private Forest lands (NIPF), agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe, and other private agricultural land (including cropped woodland, marshes, and agricultural land used for the production of livestock) on which resource concerns related to agricultural production could be addressed.

CSP provides equitable access to all producers, regardless of operation size, crops produced, or geographic location. The entire agricultural operation must be enrolled and must include all agricultural land that will be under the applicant's control for the term of the proposed contract that is operated substantially separate from other operations. (back to top)

Determining if CSP is Right for You
Producers can review and complete the Producer Self-Screening Checklist to determine whether the Conservation Stewardship Program is right for them.  Producers can take a copy of this form along with maps of their agricultural operation and call ahead for an appointment with their local field office. Producers can all use the Illinois Producer’s Guide for CSP, which provides an overview to the CSP process, program eligibility information, and tips for producers during the application process.

Applying for CSP
Applications for CSP are accepted on a continuous basis. However, a signed NRCS-CPA-1200 application form, must be submitted to the local field office by close of business March 31, 2016 for 2016 funding consideration

After submitting an application, the applicant will also receive a copy of the NRCS-CPA-1202 Contract Appendix, explaining CSP contract terms and conditions. Reviewing the contract appendix up front helps the applicant understand the requirements of the CSP program. In addition, all applicants need to meet eligibility requirements in order to be a CSP participant. Contact your local field office to discuss eligibility criteria.  (back to top)

Stewardship Threshold
Applicants must meet the stewardship threshold for at least two priority resource concerns, listed below, when they apply and they must meet or exceed the stewardship threshold for at least one additional priority resource concern by the end of the contract for each eligible land use.

Illinois Priority Resource Concerns:

Ag Land Non-Industrial Private Forest (NIPF)
Animals (domestic & wildlife) Animals (domestic & wildlife)
Energy Plants
Soil Erosion Soil Erosion
Soil Quality Soil Quality
Water Quality Water Quality

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Note: The fiscal year 2016 Activity List, Job Sheets, Operation Baseline Data questions, and CMT questions remain the same as fiscal year 2015.

Activities and Enhancement Activity Job Sheets
An Activity List is available to identify new activities that applicants can install or adopt. "Enhancement" means a type of conservation activity used to treat natural resources and improve conservation performance. Enhancements are installed at a level of management intensity that exceeds the sustainable level for a given resource concern, and those directly related to a practice standard are applied in a manner that exceeds the minimum treatment requirements of the standard.

Illinois Fund Pools
Illinois has six separate fund pools for interested CSP applicants which include:

Ag Lands:

  • Statewide Ag Lands
  • Statewide Ag Lands – Beginning Farmer
  • Statewide Ag Lands – Socially Disadvantaged

Non-Industrial Private Forest (NIPF):

  • Statewide NIPF
  • Statewide NIPF – Beginning Farmer
  • Statewide NIPF – Socially Disadvantaged

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Operation Baseline Data Questions
To initiate the use of the Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT) during the CSP application process, applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to define their Operation Baseline Data. The CMT will use this data, in part, to determine the conservation performance for existing and additional conservation activities.

The documents below are copies of the Operation Baseline Data questions, grouped by land use. Applicants can download and review the questions, and begin drafting responses to start the process before meeting with NRCS staff.

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Conservation Measurement Tool Inventory (CMT) Questions
As part of the CSP application process, applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to complete their resource inventory using a Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT). The CMT determines the conservation performance for existing and additional conservation activities.  The CMT Inventory Instructions document below provides explanation to help an applicant through the process. The CMT documents below are copies of the resource inventory questions, grouped by land use. Applicants can download and review the questions, and begin drafting responses to start resource inventory process before completing the CMT with the local NRCS field office.

Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT) Scoring Process
NRCS will use the CMT to evaluate CSP applications through a point-based system to estimate environmental benefits. The CMT evaluates existing and proposed new activities to calculate conservation performance points which will be used for ranking and payment purposes. Conservation performance points are programmed in the CMT, along with all controls, filters, and calculations.

Additional Information

Contact Information:
For help with the CSP program in Illinois, contact your local NRCS office.

Archived CSP Enhancement Activity Job Sheets and Activity Lists can be found on the National CSP website under archived on the left hand side. Not all enhancements are available in Illinois.

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