NRCS announces 2016 deadline for Performance Based Conservation Program

Virginia farmers and forestry producers interested in â??superchargingâ? their land management to get more conservation results can now sign up for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) or renew expiring 2012 CSP contracts to earn incentive payments for the environmental benefits their operations produce.

NRCS accepts CSP applications throughout the year but makes funding selections at specific times. New applications and renewals should be submitted by March 31 to be eligible for $150 million in funding available through USDA this year.

â??Over the past six years, we have enrolled nearly 453,000 acres in the Conservation Stewardship Program,â? State Conservationist Jack Bricker said. â??Virginia farmers participate in CSP because it offers conservation benefits while helping to increase the efficiency and productivity of their operations. These investments result in real change on the ground by boosting soil and air quality, conserving clean water, and enhancing wildlife habitat.â?

More than 100 Virginia CSP contracts expiring on December 31, 2016 can be renewed for five more years if participants agree to adopt additional activities (enhancements) to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands. Funding is available for enhancements such as cover crops, intensive rotational grazing, and fencing practices to protect wildlife and pollinator habitat. Producers can also participate in regional conservation efforts for the Longleaf Pine Initiative in Virginia.

Producers with 2012 CSP contracts will be notified by mail of the renewal opportunity. New applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to complete a resource inventory of their land, which will help determine the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities. This information will then be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help you determine whether the program is suitable for your operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types. Learn more about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, by contacting the Culpeper NRCS at (540) 825-4200 x 101.

Backyard Conservation Funds available

Conserving water while using attractive gardening and landscaping practices beautifies your yard, attracts beneficial pollinators, adds curb appeal and also helps improve the environment by reducing the amount of stormwater runoff from your property. Creative management of those small areas of your front or backyard to address problem areas (too wet, too dry, doesnâ??t drain, wonâ??t grow grass, etc.) now has funding available to support simple, on the ground landscape practices that benefit both you and the local environment. The Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District has just received a significant amount of grant funding available to all urban, residential, institutional and commercial property owners to implement such practices. Payment rates vary among the practices but generally are focused on providing up to 75 percent of the cost; sometimes the payments may cover all costs. Implementation of these practices in Spring 2016 should include some planning over the winter.

Now is a very good time to contact the district to get further information and submit an application. Some practices could even be implanted now.

There are currently 11 different types of practices that are eligible for funding: rainwater harvesting to provide the homeowner with additional yard water; small or large wildflower meadow plantings to increase the yard attractiveness and support pollinators and reduce the need to mow large expanses of turf; attractive permeable paver stones to replace impervious surface and encourage groundwater replenishment; tree planting ; green roofs to lower energy needs and reduce storm runoff; various water drainage practices to better drain problem sites; raingardens and drywells to both reduce runoff and add attractive plants to your yard; and others.

The District will provide technical assistance for your planning efforts and visit your site to better understand what you hope to achieve. We are very excited to be able to offer this new avenue of funding in the Culpeper District and look forward to working with property owners of all situations.

For more information, contact Richard Jacobs at 540-825-8591 or email richardJ@culpeperswcd.org.