Conservation: Our Purpose. Our Passion
View hundreds of stories, -- searchable by State, region, crop, conservation practice, and conservation program, -- about landowners who have succeeded in reaching their conservation goals with the help of NRCS conservation technical assistance and other programs.
Order the items below from NRCS Distribution Center (1-888-526-3227)!
The 12-page publication, "Helping You Help Your Land," contains information about NRCS, the assistance we provide, and how to get started with the conservation process.
Other Available Items from the NRCS Distribution Center:
DVD: "Conservation... Our Purpose. Our Passion.
CONSERVATION IS OUR PURPOSE AND OUR PASSION
Clean water. Productive soil. Bountiful harvests. Healthy plants and forests. Abundant wildlife. Lush wetlands. Clean air. Beautiful vistas.
Wise stewardship of natural resources benefits each of us through a healthy environment and productive lands.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps people help the land through scientifically based, locally led voluntary conservation efforts. Created during the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), NRCS has expanded beyond preventing soil erosion to conserving and improving all natural resources on private lands.
More than two-thirds of the land in the continental United States is privately owned that's more than 1.4 billion acres. Chances are you own some of that land. How can we help you?
Brothers Donell and Robert Gwinn implement their NRCS-developed conservation plan and program support and work with their local Soil and Water Conservation District to improve water and soil quality as well as wildlife habitat on their farm.
"I just want to conserve this land for future generations." Donell Gwinn
WHAT WE DO
Inspired by a shared passion for conservation, NRCS collaborates with farmers, ranchers, communities, and other individuals and groups to protect natural resources on private lands.
Working side-by-side with these customers, we identify natural resource concerns, such as soil erosion and water quality issues, and develop unique conservation plans for restoring and protecting resources.
NRCS helps farmers and ranchers balance their economic goals with the needs of the environment ensuring productive lands that feed our Nation, supply fiber and forest products, and develop energy resources.
As a result of NRCS assistance, private landowners have applied conservation practices such as terraces, intensive rotational grazing, filter strips, conservation tillage, and planting trees to more than 185 million acres of cropland, grazing land, wetlands, and forestlands.
WHO WE ARE
Frank Austin leaves every acre better than he found it. NRCS helped him develop and implement conservation plans that include terraces, waterways, ponds, rotational grazing, and converted cropland to grassland.
"When you fix up a place, you're helping somebody it's future generations," said Frank Austin.
A diverse group of skilled professionals make up the NRCS workforce. Whether working in the field or behind a desk, we each contribute to helping our country's landowners:
Maintain high-quality, productive soils;
Provide clean and abundant water;
Promote healthy plant and animal communities;
Improve air quality;
Produce an adequate energy supply; and
Help maintain the viability of working farms and ranches.
With over 92 percent of our workforce located in offices in nearly every county nationwide, we understand the natural resource concerns of local farmers, ranchers, and landowners. We walk the land with them. We get a first-hand understanding of the challenges, limitations, and special features of each operation.
These observations and discussions enable us to develop solutions that best match each landowner's goals with the needs of the land. Through this process, partnership, and dedication, the resulting conservation work improves soil quality, keeps water and air clean, and provides wildlife habitat.
In addition to providing local assistance, NRCS also develops new conservation technology and tools, assesses the health of our Nation's natural resources, provides informational materials, and carries out Federal financial assistance programs for conservation implementation.
THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIP
Conservation success depends on you! We use a voluntary, cooperative approach to addressing environmental concerns and challenges. Local leadership and action are the foundation for effective stewardship through cooperative conservation with NRCS.
This conservation partnership includes the groups, agencies, and individuals who share our passion for conservation. From State and Tribal governments to national commodity groups to local watershed councils, we work with many partners to achieve their conservation goals.
Our most crucial partners, however, are the landowners and decision makers who invest their time, energy, and money into applying conservation practices on our Nation's farms and ranches resulting in benefits for current and future generations.
PRODUCTIVE LANDS HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT
One of the key components to keeping our Nation's landscape healthy and productive is the quality of the soil.
It can take 500 or more years to produce an inch of topsoil. If unprotected, that same inch of soil can blow or wash away in minutes affecting both air and water quality. Knowing the characteristics of the soil on the land can help people make informed decisions about land use.
The Ho family is working with NRCS to reduce chemical use on their vegetable farm through integrated pest management, including an NRCS-funded fine mesh netting screen house. This new system will reduce pesticide use by 90 percent.
"Because the farmers touch the water and the soil more than the city people, we've got to take care," said Wei Chong Ho.
NRCS works in cooperation with other agencies to classify, interpret, and provide soils information to landowners for conservation activities, as well as private and commercial land development. The USDA Web Soil Survey online tool provides public access to this national soils information system (http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov).
Nearly 80 percent of all water crosses private land before reaching local homes and businesses. Wise choices based on conservation planning and the capacity of the land and soils, impact the quality of the water that enters our rivers, streams, and lakes and ultimately flows through our faucets.
Conservation is a vital endeavor both for those who rely on the land to support their families and for all of us who depend on farmers and ranchers to take care of our land and water. In working to protect natural resources, one positive effect usually generates another. For example, for each landowner who plants more grass or trees to reduce erosion, more wildlife habitat is created. When a wetland is restored to protect water quality, wildlife habitat as well as outdoor recreation opportunities are created. Join us in multiplying the effects of conservation on the Nation's land.
The Chesmer family has implemented more than $1 million of conservation through landowner contributions and NRCS technical and financial assistance, saving them money while protecting water quality and healthy and productive soils, and improving air quality and animal health.
"With strip cropping, you know you've doing the right thing. It makes you proud when you know you made an improvement like that." Lincoln Chesmer.
INVESTING IN CONSERVATION
Our Nation's public investment in conservation is primarily funded through farm bill programs administered by NRCS.
Most of the financial assistance provided to private landowners is used to implement conservation practices that improve water and air quality, prevent erosion, restore wetlands, and enhance wildlife. These programs and other annual funding for NRCS, also help pay for NRCS staff to provide individual conservation planning and technical assistance our most valuable tools for helping people help the land.
To make conservation easier for our customers, NRCS continually works to measure and improve products, services, efficiency, and effectiveness.
We also assess the conservation effects and benefits achieved in order to enhance our program management and delivery, as well as to provide opportunities for others to invest in private lands conservation.
NRCS works with landowners in all parts of the country: orchard owners, vegetable growers, cattle ranchers, crop producers, and outdoor enthusiasts, to name a few. If you have an interest in protecting water quality, saving soil, or providing wildlife habitat, we'd like to work with you, too!
Every landowner and decision maker, farmer and rancher who works with NRCS starts the process by thinking about their goals. It might be as simple as attracting more wildlife to an acreage or as involved as making water available to livestock in a large pasture system. Whatever the conservation goals, NRCS can help customers achieve them.
You can begin the conservation experience today! Take a few moments to think about your land or operation and then record your thoughts based on the following questions:
NRCS helped the Stoller family, who operate an organic dairy and raise other crops, transition to an intensive grassing system to reduce mechanical harvesting and the need to spread manure. Their conservation plan includes the wise use and storage of nutrients and the protection of streams by planting trees and fencing out cattle.
"There are fish again in the stream, and then we heard the frogs. Then there were thousands of butterflies in the trees. We felt good about that," said Scott Stoller.
What do you want to achieve? What do you want to enjoy? What do you want to protect or enhance for future generations?
Now, think about your land. What are the conditions of the natural resources? Are there limitations, such as existing gullies or water resources that may affect how goals can be reached?
Now that you've thought about your land and what you want to accomplish, it's time to call or visit your local NRCS office! Listings are in your local phone book, or at the USDA Service Center Locater.
When you call, you can schedule a time to visit with an NRCS conservation expert and discuss how we can work together on conservation. Our experts can help you develop a conservation plan, assist you in evaluating your resources, provide technical recommendations, and identify potential sources of financial assistance to realize your conservation dreams.
We can help you help the land. It's our purpose. It's our passion.