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Conservation Planning FAQ's

Picture of farmer at sunset
What is a Conservation Plan?

A Conservation plan is a written record of your management decisions and the conservation practices or systems you plan to use and maintain on your farm to achieve your conservation objectives. While this plan is voluntary, it may also be used to satisfy certain regulatory requirements such as the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law.

What’s in the plan?

A conservation plan includes...

  • Producer/landowner-determined objectives and goals.

  • Aerial photographs or diagrams of your fields.

  • Resource information, such as forage or crop production potential or potential stocking rates, soil loss estimates, surface water locations, existing habitats, etc.

  • Descriptions of your treatment decisions.

  • Location and schedule for conservation applications.

  • Plan of operation and maintenance of conservation practices and systems.

  • Specific items to meet regulatory or conservation program requirements

How can it help me?

Combining your farming or forestry management skills with the knowledge and tools of a Certified Conservation Planner can help you more effectively manage the resources upon which you depend to make your living. A Conservation Plan can also help you maintain compliance with various regulatory requirements by helping you identify which regulatory requirements apply to your operation and addressing those requirements within your plan. The planning process can also help you identify funding opportunities that are available to help you put your plan in action.

How much does it cost? 

When working with NRCS this service is offered to you at no charge. If you decide to work with another private or public Certified Conservation Planner, a fee may be charged for the development of the plan.

How much time will it take to develop?

A planner will meet with you as soon as they are available; however, their availability depends on their existing workload. You may be able to meet with a planner within a month of requesting their service, or you may have to wait for more than a year. Since planner availability varies with each individual, you may want to contact various entities. Certified Conservation Planners are employed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Conservation Districts (CD), as well as other public or private consulting services or organizations.

When a planner meets with you, the length of the meeting will vary from a couple to several hours, depending on the type and extent of land, your production and resource goals, and the type of operation you run. Generally, a Certified Conservation Planner will require only enough of your time to make certain that your goals and objectives are met and that you’re satisfied with the plan.

Does a Conservation Plan require that I provide the general public access to my land?

No, the development of an NRCS Conservation Plan does not grant the public access to your property.

Who controls what’s in the plan?

You do. It’s your plan. The conservation planner, however, will provide you with various alternatives for each land use or area of interest and advise you about the conservation benefits each alternative will provide. You will decide which alternative best fits your operation and management goals.

What if the plan doesn’t meet my needs?

If your plan isn’t meeting your objectives, you can work with your Certified Conservation Planner to develop different alternatives that do meet your objectives.

What’s my next step?

Call or stop by your local NRCS office and make an appointment to have a conservation planner help you get started. Your conservation planner will work with you and guide you through the process of creating your own conservation plan.

Return to Conservation Planning Overview Page