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Conservation Planning Information

Conservation Planning Information and Resources

Vermont Stripcropping System









What is Conservation Planning?

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) was created in 1935 to assist individuals and groups in identifying and solving conservation problems on private lands through a partnership with local conservation districts. The NRCS, with help from its partners, continues to help clients inventory resources, assess resource concerns and prepare conservation plans for the lands they make decisions on. The process is voluntary and participatory. Each client serves as the final decision maker throughout the process.  A conservation plan is a written record of your management decisions and the conservation practices and systems you plan to use, develop, and maintain on your farm or ranch. Carrying out your plan will help achieve the goals of protecting the environment and your natural resources. After soil, water, air, plant, and animal resources are inventoried and evaluated, the NRCS conservation planner will review and offer possible alternatives for you to consider. The alternatives you decide are recorded in a conservation plan, which becomes the road-map to help you achieve your goals and maintain the resources of your land.  For more information visit the NRCS National Conservation Planning/Technical Assistance web page.

Learn more about a Conservation Plan, including:

  • What is a conservation plan
  • What does a conservation plan include
  • What are the benefits of having a conservation plan
  • What is the conservation planning process

How it Helps You

Healthy private land is America's strength. Healthy working land is the foundation of a prosperous American agriculture industry, the cornerstone of environmental quality, and the core of healthy communities.


If you are interested in working with Vermont NRCS to develop a conservation plan for your property, you can begin by completing the Conservation Planning Questionnaire.  It is intended to assist you and the conservation planner gather the preliminary information necessary to begin formulation of a conservation plan. If you are interested in working with Vermont NRCS to create a plan, complete as many of the following questions which are applicable to your land or farm operation, as possible.  Completion of the questionnaire gets you started on the conservation planning process.  Contact your local USDA Service Center NRCS office and ask a conservation planner to help you with completion of the questionnaire and the remaining steps of the conservation planning process toward completion of your conservation plan.

Below are links to conservation planning training, tools, policies and guidance.

Comprehensive Nutrient Management Planning

MS Word templates from VT NRCS and other information related to CNMP planning.

Conservation Planning (NRCS Course Parts 1-3)
The purpose of the course is to prepare the participant to be able to independently apply the NRCS planning process, and to utilize supporting technology, in order to assist clients in making decisions resulting in conservation plans that protect, conserve, and enhance natural resources and meet the client's needs. This training has been revised in a cooperative effort between the Conservation Operations Division, NHQ and the National Employee Development Center. 

Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) Information

This page provides support documents for Technical Service Providers to use when developing Conservation Activity Plans (CAPs).


Environmental Compliance 

National NRCS Environmental Compliance Website.
The form NRCS-CPA-52 is the tool used to summarize the effects of conservation practices and systems. It also provides summary documentation of the environmental evaluation (EE) of the planned actions.  


Endangered Species Act (ESA) Planning Procedures - VT NRCS
Procedural guidance for Vermont NRCS conservation planners to ensure compliance with the ESA in Vermont.

National Planning Procedures Handbook
NRCS provides conservation planning and technical assistance to clients (individuals, groups, and units of government). These clients develop and implement plans to protect, conserve, and enhance natural resources (soil, water, air, plants, and animals) within their social and economic interests.  The purpose of this handbook is to provide guidance on the planning process the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) uses to help develop, implement, and evaluate conservation plans. Select: Handbooks, Title 180-Part 600.

Nutrient Management Planning Information
Information and tools available from NRCS, University of Vermont, and other sources for nutrient management and Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans.

Resource Management System Planning Information
These pages provide information regarding conservation practices typically used to address resource concerns on various land uses.  Planning and  implementation of these conservation practices often comprise the core of a Resource Management System conservation plan.

Biosecurity Procedures:
Following are links to the NRCS Biosecurity policy (GM-Title 130, Part 403), as well as, biosecurity guidance from the University of Vermont, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets (VAAFM), and EIS from Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

NRCS Biosecurity Policy


Environmental Impact Statement-APHIS: Carcass Management During A Mass Animal Health Emergency


University of Vermont Healthy Farms Healthy Agriculture (HFHA)


VAAFM Guidance