NRCS uses landscape conservation initiatives to accelerate the results that can be achieved through voluntary conservation programs. All NRCS programs are designed to support farmers, ranchers, and foresters in improving the environment while maintaining or improving a vibrant agricultural sector. Most program delivery is driven primarily by grassroots input and local needs. Landscape conservation initiatives enhance the locally driven process to better address nationally and regionally important conservation goals that transcend localities.
Examples of these goals include improving water quality in the Great Lakes (8 states), reducing the decline of the Ogallala Aquifer (8 states), and enhancing the habitat of keystone species like the greater sage grouse (11 states). Through landscape conservation initiatives, NRCS and its partners coordinate the delivery of assistance where it can have the most impact in these broad ranges.
Since establishing the initiatives under the 2008 Farm Bill, NRCS has used successes and lessons learned to enhance the delivery of landscape conservation initiatives. With tools like the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, the 2014 Farm Bill further emphasizes the focus on building effective partnerships and obtaining meaningful results for key natural resource concerns. With the support of new and revised Farm Bill programs, NRCS will continue to work with partners to improve outcomes through landscape conservation initiatives.
Conservation beyond boundaries—Landscape-scale natural resource concerns, such as species conservation and water quality, are most effectively addressed beyond geo-political boundaries. NRCS recognizes that natural resource concerns transcend farm, county, and state boundaries.
A science-based approach —Findings from the multi-agency Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) indicate the most effective way to increase protection of natural resources is to target conservation to the most vulnerable or valuable areas and for agricultural producers to implement conservation practices as a system rather than by a practice-by-practice approach. Within individual initiatives, the best available university and government science resources are used to define targeting approaches.
Build on existing locally-led efforts and partnerships — NRCS seeks to maximize the success of initiatives by leveraging partner interest and resources through programs and other tools.
Regulatory certainty for agricultural producers — Where applicable, NRCS is working with regulators so agricultural producers can have predictability and certainty that the voluntary conservation systems or practices they implement are consistent with current and potential regulation, as well as sustained agricultural production.
Note: Although the following initiatives are no longer funded at the national NRCS level, states will continue to offer general program funds, and may offer targeted funds, to address resource issues identified under these legacy initiatives.
Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative provides food, water and critical habitat for bird populations, supports local economies by attracting hunters and bird watchers, and expands opportunities for improved wildlife management.