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2012 Conservation Stewardship Program

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) | Utah NRCS

Program Description

The Conservation Stewardship Program encourages land stewards to improve their conservation performance by installing and adopting additional activities, and improving, maintaining, and managing existing activities on agricultural land and nonindustrial private forest land. The program is available nationwide on a continuous application basis. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill) replaces the Conservation Security Program with the new Conservation Stewardship Program for fiscal years 2009 through 2017.

The Conservation Stewardship Program encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by:

  • Undertaking additional conservation activities; and
  • Improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities.

CSP is available on Tribal and private agricultural lands and non-industrial private forest land in all 50 States and the Caribbean and Pacific Islands Areas. The program provides equitable access to all producers, regardless of operation size, crops produced, or geographic location. The Secretary of Agriculture has delegated the authority for CSP to the NRCS Chief.

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Is CSP Right For Me?

The Conservation Stewardship Self-Screening Checklist will help you find determine whether the program is right for you.

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Conservation Stewardship Self-Screening Checklist (PDF, 114KB)

You don't have to turn it in to NRCS; it's there to help you determine if CSP is right for you. If you have questions regarding the Checklist, please contact your local NRCS office.


CSP is available to all producers, regardless of operation size or crops produced, in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the Caribbean and Pacific Island areas. Eligible lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest land, and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe. Applicants may include individuals, legal entities, joint operations, or Indian tribes. They must:

  • Be the operator of record in the USDA farm records management system for the eligible land being offered for enrollment;
  • Have effective control of the land for the term of the proposed contract;
  • Be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions of 7 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 12 and adjusted gross income provisions of 7 CFR part 1400; and
  • Include the eligible land in their entire agricultural or forestry operation

Land Control

  • The applicant has control of the land for the term of the proposed contract. Click here for more information on requirements for land control. (PDF, 84 kb)

CSP Application Process

  • Download and fill out the the Conservation Stewardship Program Application NRCS-CPA-1200 (PDF, 104KB) and NRCS-CPA-1200-Appendix (PDF, 104KB) form, and turn it in to your local NRCS office.
  • Conservation Measurement Tool Inventory Questions

    As part of the CSP application process, you'll work with NRCS field personnel to complete your resource inventory using a Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT). The CMT determines the conservation performance for existing and additional conservation activities.

    The documents below are copies of the resource inventory questions, grouped by land use. You can download and review the questions, and begin drafting responses to start resource inventory process before you complete the CMT in your local NRCS office.
  • Conservation Measurement Tool (CMT) Scoring Process

NRCS will use the CMT to evaluate CSP applications through a point-based system to estimate environmental benefits.
The CMT evaluates existing and proposed new activities to calculate conservation performance points which will be used for ranking and payment purposes.

Conservation performance points are programmed in the CMT, along with all controls, filters, and calculations.
A scientific validation of CMT is underway and future modifications to these points may be needed.

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CMT Scoring Process One Pager (PDF, 46KB)

2012 Activity List

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Conservation Program Activity List (PDF, 98 KB)

An "Enhancement" is a conservation activity used to treat natural resources and greatly improve conservation performance.

Enhancements are installed at a level of management intensity which exceeds the sustainable level for a given resource concern.

Enhancements directly related to a practice standard are applied in a manner that exceeds the minimum treatment requirements of the standard.

A "Bundle" is a group of specific enhancements which when installed as a group, addresses resource concerns synergetically.

The following list are examples of Enhancement Activity

  • Air Quality
  • Animal
  • Energy
  • Plant
  • Soil Erosion
  • Soil Quality
  • Water Quality
  • Water Quantity
  • Special Projects
  • Bundles

The Organic Crosswalk

The 2008 Farm Bill recognized the growing interest and support of organic agriculture across the country and required the development of a transparent means by which producers may initiate organic certification while participating in a CSP contract. "The Conservation Stewardship Program’s Contribution to Organic Transitioning - The Organic Crosswalk", provides an explanation of how CSP enhancements can be used to assist producers in meeting individual National Organic Program (NOP) rules while going through the transitioning period.

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The Organic Crosswalk (PDF, 45KB)

CSP and Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI)

The Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) is a voluntary conservation initiative that enables the use of certain conservation programs along with resources of eligible partners to provide additional financial and/or technical assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and nonindustrial private forest lands. The document below provides guidance how to use CCPI:

The document below requires Adobe Acrobat Reader:

CSP CCPI Guidance (PDF, 45KB)


National CSP


Find a local USDA Service Center

For more information on the statewide Conservation Stewardship Program contact Pedro Ramos, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs at (801) 524-4552 or Blake Walbeck, NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program Manager at (435) 896-6441