Wisconsin NRCS Programs

Complying with a Conservation Plan


Conservation Programs and Practices for Your Land - Read more about NRCS Programs - New Brochure


Photo of Mississippi River.  Many NRCS programs help improve the water quality of the Upper Mississippi River, including conservation and watershed projects.








In order to participate in USDA farm programs, Federal law requires that all persons that produce agriculture commodities must protect their highly erodible cropland from excessive erosion.  In addition, anyone participating in USDA farm programs must certify that they have not produced crops on converted wetlands and did not convert a wetland.  Find out more about Conservation Compliance.

Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI)

The CCPI provides funding for eligible partner organizations through grant agreements focusing on the priorities of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program or the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program.  More on CCPI.

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

The CSP will help owners and operators of agricultural lands maintain conservation stewardship and implement and maintain additional needed conservation practices. The conservation benefits gained will keep farms and ranches more sustainable and profitable and increase the benefits provided to all Americans through improved natural resources.   Find out more about the Conservation Stewardship Program.

Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA)

Through Conservation Technical Assistance, NRCS assists landowners and land users, communities, units of state and local government, Tribes, and other Federal agencies in planning and implementing conservation systems.  Find out more about CTA and how NRCS can offer you technical assistance.


Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

CRP can reduce erosion, increase wildlife habitat, improve water quality, and increase forestland.  Landowners sets aside cropland with annual rental payments based on amount bid.   Tree planting, wildlife ponds, grass cover, and other environmental practices are eligible practices.

Eligibility varies by soil type and crop history. Land is accepted into program if bid qualifies. Continuous signup open for buffers, waterways and environmental practices. Periodic signups announced throughout the year for other practices.   The contract period is 10 years, 15 years if planting hardwood trees.  It is transferable with change in ownership.  Public Access is not required.  Find out more about the Conservation Reserve Program.


Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

EQIP provides technical and financial help to landowners for conservation practices that protect soil and water quality. 

Grassed waterways, stream fencing, critical area planting, terraces, manure management systems including storage structures and barnyard runoff protection, and many other conservation practices are eligible for EQIP.  Agricultural producers on agricultural land are eligible. Projects are selected based on environmental value.

Contracts run for 1-10 years. Ag producers may be eligible for financial assistance, up to  $300,000 for the life of Farm BIll. Public Access is not required.   Contact your local NRCS office, or the local Land Conservation Department.  Find out more about the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.


Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program

The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) helps farmers keep productive land in agriculture.  The Program provides matching funds to State, Tribal, non-profit, or local government entities with existing programs that protect farmland through the purchase of conservation easements or development rights.  Individual landowners participate voluntarily and retain all rights to use the property for agriculture.  Projects are selected through a competitive application process.

Eligible land includes privately owned working farms with productive soils that have a pending offer for purchase of development rights from an eligible entity.  Location, size, and existing protections, such as zoning, must support long-term agricultural use.  In Wisconsin, easements must be permanent.  Local programs are reimbursed up to 50% of the cost of the easement. Public Access is not required.  More FRPP information.


Farmland Protection Policy Act

The Conservation Challenge

How much do you know about our resources and environment? 

Take the Conservation Challenge.

The FPPA provides information on the prime and important farmland impacts of projects that use federal funds or technical assistance.  Entities planning projects that may irreversibly convert prime or important farmland to non-agricultural use, submit form AD-1006 during the planning stage. NRCS evaluates the impact of the project alternatives on prime and important farmland conversion and provides information to be used during the planning process. More FPPA information.


Forestry Programs

Forestry programs provide cost-sharing for forestry practices.  Practices eligible include tree planting, site preparation for natural regeneration, timber stand improvement, etc.   Eligible landowners with 10 or more acres.  They must agree to maintain practices for estimated life span. A management plan is required.  Public Access is not required.   Contact NRCS on Forestry, or the  Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources.

Grasslands Reserve Program

When properly managed, grasslands can result in cleaner, healthier streams, and reduced sediment loads in water bodies. These lands are vital for the production of livestock forage and provide forage and habitat for maintaining healthy wildlife populations. They also add to the beauty of the landscape, provide scenic vistas and open space, provide for recreational activities and protect the soil from water and wind erosion.  Find out more about GRP.

Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative

The Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative is intended to provide technical, educational and other help to conserve and improve privately owned grazing and pasture lands.   Intended practices include prescribed grazing, animal trails and walkways, and fencing.  Learn more about how NRCS can provide grazing assistance to you.


Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

To improve the health of the Great Lakes, NRCS is providing financial and technical resources to 8 states to improve water quality in the region. Through this Initiative, NRCS will focus on helping farmers implement conservation practices that reduce erosion, improve water quality, and maintain agricultural productivity in selected watersheds.  More Wisconsin GLRI information.


Mississippi River Basin Initiative

To improve the health of the Mississippi River Basin, including water quality and wildlife habitat, the Natural Resources Conservation Service established the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI). Through this new Initiative, NRCS and its partners will help producers in selected watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin voluntarily implement conservation practices that avoid, control, and trap nutrient runoff; improve wildlife habitat; and maintain agricultural productivity.  National MRBI information.   Wisconsin MRBI information.

National Water Quality Initiative

The USDA's National Water Quality Initiative is committed to improving impaired waterways throughout the nation.  Three watersheds have been selected in Wisconsin. NRCS will help farmers and forest landowners in the selected watersheds to begin needed conservation practices to reduce sediment and nutrients entering the waterway. NWQI in Wisconsin


Plants & Plant Resources

NRCS develops many plant materials and plant technologies that helps farmers, land owners, and land users conserve the nation's resources.  We also have a variety of general and specific information on seeding, planting, identification, bioengineering, and reference material.  You can look up information in the PLANTS database.  You can also learn about plants and get fact sheets from the Plant Materials Program.

Stewardship Incentive Program (SIP)

SIP can provide cost-sharing to protect, manage, and enhance forest resources while meeting landowner objectives.   Forestry management plan, tree plantings, fish habitat improvement, recreational protection and enhancement, and wildlife habitat improvement, soil and water protection, shelter belts, threatened and endangered species, and wetland creation and restoration are eligible practices.

Eligible applicants include private landowner with 10 to 1,000 acres of woodland.  A 10-year commitment to maintain and protect SIP funded practices is required.  Public Access is not required. Contact the Farm Service AgencyWisconsin Dept of Natural Resources, or your county Land Conservation Department.


Technical Service Providers

Wisconsin's Technical Service Provider (TSP) program is intended to help professionals interested in providing  technical assistance to landowners and farmers under one of the 2002 Farm Bill conservation programs.  Find out more about how to become a TSP or use a TSP.


Watershed Programs

The Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program is intended to take emergency measures to safeguard lives and property after a natural occurrence has caused a sudden impairment of the watershed.  More about the Emergency Watershed Protection Program.  Through EWP, NRCS may purchase easements on any floodplain lands that have a history of repeated flooding.  More about EWP Floodplain Easements (EWPP-FPE).

The Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Programs assist governments and participants to protect and restore watershed from damage caused by erosion, floodwater, and sediment, to conserve and develop water and land resources, and solve natural resource and related economic problems on a watershed basis.  More about the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Programs.

As part of Watershed Rehabilitation, many Wisconsin dams that protect agricultural lands and communities need repairs.  The program helps communities and participants repair and rehabilitate these dams.  More about Watershed Rehabilitation.

Rapid Watershed Assessment is a new initiative by NRCS to provide data analysis and maps to help determine what conservation investments would best address watershed resource concerns. These assessments help landowners and local leaders set priorities and determine the best actions to achieve their goals.


Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

The WRP is to restore wetlands previously altered for agricultural use.   Eligible land is land which has been owned for one year and can be restored to wetland conditions.   Landowners may restore wetlands with permanent or 30-year easements or 10-year contracts. Permanent easements pay 100% of the agricultural value of the land and 100% cost-sharing; 30-year easements pay 75% of the agricultural value and 75% cost-sharing; 10-year contract pays 75% cost-share only. 

Permanent or 30-year easements recorded with property deed. 10-year contract is not recorded with deed.  Public Access is not required.   Find out more about the Wetlands Reserve Program.

Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)

WHIP can develop or improve wildlife habitat on privately owned land through installation of in-stream structures, restoring prairies and oak savannas, providing brush management and control of invasive species. Almost any type of land is eligible, including ag and non-ag lands.  WHIP provides funding to assist with restoration costs.  Public access is not required. Find out more about the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program.