Questions and answers about the Conservation Stewardship Program for private
What is the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)?
CSP is a voluntary program designed to encourage private, non-industrial forest
landowners to address the nation’s natural resource management concerns by
implementing additional conservation practices on their lands and improving or
maintaining existing stewardship practices that help to reach these goals.
Who administers the program?
CSP is administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
which provides financial and technical assistance to help identify, plan and
implement stewardship practices that will help conserve and enhance soil, water,
air, plant, wildlife habitat and related natural resources on your land.
How does the program work for private forest landowners?
CSP encourages non-industrial private forest landowners to improve conservation
systems by undertaking additional conservation activities and improving,
maintaining, and managing existing conservation activities.
What payments could I expect to receive?
Forest landowners may be eligible to receive payments averaging approximately
$10 per acre for five years–depending on enhancements implemented and (or)
stewardship practices maintained. However, landowners need to provide
documentation of implemented practices to determine eligibility and ranking. CSP
is competitive and provides payments to landowners who are willing and able to
make significant contributions to USDA’s natural resource conservation goals.
Who can participate?
To participate in CSP you must be able to prove clear ownership of the land you
wish to enroll; land must be enrolled in the Farm Service Agency (FSA) record
system; and your average, adjusted non-farm income must be less than $1 million.
What if I do not have a “Farm Number” for my property?
If you do not currently have a “Farm Number” for your property, you can apply
for one at your local FSA office.
Are there land eligibility requirements?
Your land must meet the definition of privately owned non-industrial forest land
– most commonly described as family owned forest land.
You must enroll your entire property. You cannot selectively choose to enroll
acres that desperately need help and exclude land that is in good condition.
You cannot enroll lands that are already enrolled in one of USDA’s conservation
programs including but not limited to the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands
Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program or Conservation Security Program.
What are the “Stewardship Threshold Requirements?”
To be eligible for CSP a forest landowner must meet at least two of the
- Forestland must be enrolled in a forest certification scheme. USDA
recognizes the American Tree
Farm System, Forest Stewardship Council, and Sustainable Forestry
Initiative as acceptable
schemes for eligibility.
- Completed one or more management practices according to a written forest
management or stewardship plan in the last ten years. Examples of
improvements include prescribed thinning, tree planting, establishing a
firebreak, etc. Plans must be prepared by a certified/licensed natural
- Forestlands must meet minimum stocking level
and trees species must be native to the area.
- Soils must be stabilized with no apparent erosion on harvested or burned
areas, roads, skid trails,
- Wildfire risk (in wildfire-prone areas) is minimized by strategically
placed narrow firebreaks and wider fuel breaks (which may include roads,
streams, riparian areas, and other areas managed to slow fire spread).
What additional documentation is required?
Landowners are required to provide documentation of conservation
activities to verify the accuracy of application information before
contracts are approved.
Who do I contact to move forward?
If you think you meet the applicant, land, and stewardship eligibility
requirements and are interested in the CSP, contact your local NRCS office to
move forward in the application process. To find an NRCS office near you,
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CSP Forestry Factsheet
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