Application deadline for new CSP applications: December 16, 2022
Your Stewardship Goals. Our Assistance.
Have you ever looked across your property and thought about some land management goals you would like to take to the next level? Maybe we can help.
No one knows more about your land than you do, and no one knows more about conservation than we do. Together we can develop a plan tailored to your land and your goals to help you increase productivity and protect the value of your land.
Our Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) helps you build on your existing conservation efforts while strengthening your operation. Whether you are looking to improve grazing conditions, increase crop yields, or develop wildlife habitat, we can custom design a CSP plan to help you meet those goals. We can help you schedule timely planting of cover crops, develop a grazing plan that will improve your forage base, implement no-till to reduce erosion or manage forested areas in a way that benefits wildlife habitat. If you are already taking steps to improve the condition of the land, chances are CSP can help you find new ways to meet your goals.
CSP Fact Sheet
AK Is CSP Right for Me (1.41 MB)
CSP is for working lands. It is the largest conservation program in the United States with more than 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled in CSP. Thousands of people voluntarily enroll in the program because it helps them enhance natural resources and improve their business operation.
CSP participants are seeing real results. Some of these benefits include:
- Increased crop yields
- Decreased inputs
- Wildlife habitat population improvements
- Increased resilience to weather extremes
How Does CSP Work?
Most agricultural producers that participate in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) have already implemented conservation practices on their land. CSP offers additional opportunities to expand on existing conservation efforts by offering conservation practices, enhancements, bundles, and other conservation activities. For example, if you have been planting a cover crop, you may decide to try an enhancement for multi-species cover crop or implement a deep-rooted cover crop to break up soil compaction.
If you decide to enroll in CSP, the local NRCS conservation planner will have a one-on-one consultation with you to evaluate your current management system and the natural resources on your land. Then the NRCS conservation planner will present a variety of CSP conservation activities for you to consider implementing on your land in order for you to address additional natural resource concerns. The variety of CSP conservation activities offered give you a lot of freedom to select enhancements, practices, or bundles that help you meet your management goals. These improvements help bring out your land’s best potential.
Once you choose the conservation activities that best fit your operation, CSP offers annual payments for installing these activities on your land and operating and maintaining your current conservation efforts.
New CSP Grasslands Conservation Initiative
This new initiative assists producers in protecting grazing land uses; conserving and improving soil, water and wildlife resources; and achieving related conservation values by conserving eligible land through grassland conservation contracts. Eligible lands are limited to cropland for which base acres have been maintained under FSA’s ARC/PLC and were planted to grass or pasture, including idle or fallow, during a specific period. Enrolled acreage must be managed consistently with a grassland conservation plan. Producers will have a single opportunity to enroll eligible land in a five-year contract.
AK CSP Appendix to Application Form for GCI (237.73 KB)
Applying for CSP
If you're ready to take your conservation efforts to the next level we are here to help. NRCS accepts applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) at any time throughout the year. NRCS sets specific deadlines for ranking and funding opportunities. Contact your local NRCS field office for more information.
Preparing Your Application
Applications must include all agricultural or private forest land in your operation that you will have control of for the 5-year term of the CSP contract. You need to establish farm records with the Farm Service Agency for these lands before NRCS will be able to evaluate your application. You will need to identify all land in your operation when you meet with an NRCS representative.
Evaluating the Application
Once you request assistance or complete an application, the local NRCS conservation planner will have a one-on-one consultation with you to evaluate your current management system and the natural resources on your land using the Conservation Assessment and Ranking Tool (CART). Eligible lands will be identified and the number of resource concerns that are currently meeting CSP stewardship thresholds will be determined. Each applicant must meet the stewardship threshold for at least two resource concerns on each land use at the time of application. The applicant must also agree to address one additional resource concern for each land use by the end of the contract to be eligible.
The NRCS conservation planner will present a variety of CSP conservation activities for you to consider implementing on your land, based on the resource stewardship thresholds you would like to meet or exceed. The variety of CSP conservation activities that are offered give you many options for selecting enhancements, practices, or bundles that help you improve your current management system, increase your profits, and meet your stewardship goals. These improvements work naturally with your land to bring out your land’s best potential.
Once NRCS completes an assessment of your operation and you choose the conservation activities you will implement, NRCS will rank your application to determine how well your current and future management system will address national, state, and local natural resource priorities. NRCS will rank your application against other eligible applications that have similar resource challenges in the same local ranking pool, with the highest scoring applications receiving contract offers first.
Alaska CSP Ranking Questions FY23 (126.5 KB)
CSP Application Form
CSP Contracts and Payments
The program represents a genuine commitment to conservation – CSP contracts are for five years, with the opportunity to compete for a contract renewal if you successfully fulfill the initial contract and agree to achieve additional conservation objectives. An NRCS conservation planner will work closely with you throughout the entire contract process.
Contract payments are based on two components:
- Payments to maintain the existing level of conservation based on the land uses included in the contract and NRCS assessment of existing stewardship at the time of enrollment, and
- Payments to implement additional conservation activities.
NRCS may provide a minimum annual payment of $1,500 in any year the Chief determines the total contract payment amount is less than a rate determined equitable based upon the effort required by a participant to meet contract requirements.
Existing CSP participants may be eligible to renew their contract for an additional 5-year term during the fifth year of their initial contract. Participants who have met the terms of their initial contract and who agree to implement more conservation activities will now be ranked and compete for a renewal contract. To meet the renewal stewardship threshold, the participant must agree to meet or exceed two additional priority resource concerns or agree to adopt or improve conservation activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on two existing priority resource concerns
For more information about CSP in Alaska, contact:
Ready to get started?
Contact your local service center to start your application.
How to Get Assistance
Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?
Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.
To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.
NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.
We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:
- To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
- To meet other eligibility certifications.
Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.
Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.
As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:
- An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
- A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
- A farm tract number.
If you don’t have a farm tract number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm tract number if you’re interested in financial assistance.
NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.
If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.
Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.