The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for two of its conservation programs for farms and forestland. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) offers technical and financial assistance for a variety of conservation practices on cropland, pasture, and forestland, while the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) offers financial “rewards” for existing conservation on the same land uses. Interested farmers and forest landowners from Florence, Forest, Oneida, and Vilas counties should contact Michael Stinebrink, at (715) 362-5941, Ext. 111, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, please visit the Wisconsin NRCS “Programs” webpage (http://www.wi.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/) or the USDA Service Center, located at 2187 N Stevens St, in Rhinelander, for more information.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) has offered an average of approximately $400,000 in flat-rate payments, per year, to farmers and forestland owners, in Florence, Forest, Oneida, and Vilas counties, over the past 3 years. EQIP assistance is offered for more than 80 conservation practices, including fencing, watering systems, and pasture planting for grazing systems; tree planting; invasive species control; manure storage; erosion control; and forest trails and timber stand improvement. Incentive payments are also offered for forest management plans and nutrient management plans. Additionally, EQIP offers funding for wildlife projects, such as wood duck boxes and osprey nesting platforms, in-stream structures for fish habitat, herbaceous and woody plantings for pollinator habitat, and managing forest land to create early successional habitat for woodcock.
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a “rewards” program that offers payments to land users for being “good stewards” of cropland, pasture, and forestland. All CSP contracts are 5 years in length. The following is a summary of the annual payments for existing CSP contracts, in Wisconsin:
Cropland: $7 to $57 per acre (average = $21/acre)
Pasture: $3 to $45 per acre (average = $16/acre)
Forestland: $1 to $25 per acre (average = $5/acre)
Ideally, land enrolled in CSP should show few signs of erosion, water quality should be protected, and some areas of land should be managed for wildlife habitat. Participants must implement at least one additional conservation measure to earn a payment.