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Conservation Planning

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's principal agency for providing conservation technical assistance to private landowners, conservation districts, tribes, and other organizations.

NRCS delivers conservation technical assistance through its voluntary Conservation Technical Assistance Program (CTA).  CTA is available to any group or individual interested in conserving our natural resources and sustaining agricultural production in this country.

The CTA program functions through a national network of locally-based, professional conservationists. 

What is Conservation Technical Assistance?

Conservation technical assistance is the help NRCS and its partners provide to land users to address opportunities, concerns, and problems related to the use of natural resources and to help land users make sound natural resource management decisions on private, tribal, and other non-federal lands.

This assistance can help land users:

  • Maintain and improve private lands and their management
  • Implement better land management technologies
  • Protect and improve water quality and quantity
  • Maintain and improve wildlife and fish habitat
  • Enhance recreational opportunities on their land
  • Maintain and improve the aesthetic character of private land
  • Explore opportunities to diversify agricultural operations and
  • Develop and apply sustainable agricultural systems

This assistance may be in the form of resource assessment, practice design, resource monitoring, or follow-up of installed practices. Read more about the 9 step conservation planning process.

Although the CTA program does not include financial or cost-share assistance, clients may develop conservation plans, which may serve as a springboard for those interested in participating in USDA financial assistance programs. CTA planning can also serve as a door to financial assistance and easement conservation programs provided by other Federal, State, and local programs.

Who Needs Conservation Technical Assistance?

NRCS and its partners use the CTA program to provide technical assistance to:

  • farmers
  • ranchers
  • local units of government
  • citizen groups
  • recreation groups
  • Tribal governments
  • professional consultants
  • State and Federal agencies
  • and others interested in conserving natural resources

All owners, managers, and others who have a stake and interest in natural resource management are eligible to receive technical assistance from NRCS. To receive technical assistance, the individual may contact their local NRCS office or the local conservation district. 

The working relationships that landowners and communities have with their local NRCS staff are unique. One-on-one help through flexible, voluntary programs occurs every day in local NRCS offices across the country. It is the way NRCS does business, and it works. To obtain conservation technical assistance, contact your local NRCS office.